By Chuck Reherman
When there are only five games in district play, everyone is important, especially if a team starts the slate with an 0-1 record.
For Southwest Covenant, the Patriots will play their most important game of the season so far, hosting Okeene in a 7 p.m. kickoff Thursday at Patriot Field.
It will be the first ever meeting between the teams. SWCS comes into the contest with a 2-3 record, while Okeene is 4-2 and won their district opener.
The Whippets beat Waukomis 24-8 in the B-3 opener and also own wins over Pond Creek-Hunter (2014), Geary (26-24) and Beaver (48-0).
The Patriots lost to Covington-Douglas 42-14 last week and is looking to rebound with a win this week.
“Okeene has a good team, it will be another challenge for us,” Patriot head coach John Jensen said. “They have a quarterback that is really good and a couple of players that are really shifty. Their wide receiver is significant.
“They are solid, not a lot of standouts, they just go out and play football hard,” he said. “We have seen some standouts the last few weeks, but they just have guys that play hard.
“They have tinkered with their defense in the last couple of weeks and it works for them. They are playing more into that Shattuck, Laverne, OBA style of 3-2 defense and are doing it well. They have walked their linebackers up to the line and it has worked for them.”
The Whippets have turned things around this season. The team went 4-7 the last two years and have not had a winning season since 2014.
Brody Jenkins is a dual threat at quarterback and has led the way for the Whippets this season. Carson Osterhout has been his favorite target and leads the team in pass receiving.
The Whippets have William Karbs, a tough running fullback that leads the team in rushing. His younger brother Harley will also run the ball.
William Karbs and Osterhout are also key players in the defense as the Whippets have several that play on both sides of the ball. Jenkins and Kale Shaloy give the Whippets a tough secondary.
“You can tell from the beginning of the season until last week that their defense has really improved,” Jensen said. “We will need good play from our offensive line this week.
“Okeene is a very balanced team,” he said. “They have a lot of good kids and they spread it around to them. They are one way or the other, just pretty good at it.
“Their defense looks more like a 5-0 than a 3-2 and they are good at it. I look at it as how they can do it, they just trust their linebackers will get there in the enough time to make the play. If you get through the first line, you have a chance to make a big run, but you have to get past that front line first.”
The Patriots are looking to get their offense back on track after being held to 150 yards total last week. Quarterback Asher Hoover passed for 117 yards, completing 15 or 30 attempts. They Patriots had only 33 yards rushing on the ground and Jensen said the team will need to be able to run the ball better this week.
“We will have to win some individual battles at the line of scrimmage, play a little more disciplined and have really good linebacker play side to side,” Jensen said. “We have to get good angles on offense.”
“This is a big game for us, we need this one,” Jensen said. “It is a Thursday night game, so it is a short turnaround week for us, plus, the guys will be out of school on that day. We have to work on getting them focused in.”