Barry Lewis: Victory Christian, Fort Gibson two surprising unbeaten football teams
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Thursday, October 04, 2012
10/04/12 at 10:34 AM
Go to Barry Lewis' BlogOriginal Print Headline: Victory, Fort Gibson among the surprises
Forty-Nine teams remain undefeated at the midway point of the high school football regular season.
Two of the more surprising teams to be 5-0 are Victory Christian and Fort Gibson. Both were projected to have winning seasons after making the playoffs last year, but they have exceeded expectations.
Victory Christian, ranked No. 9 in Class 3A, is perfect through five games for only the second time in school history. The other 5-0 start was in 2004 when the Conquerors reached the state championship game.
"Our seniors remember it was only three years ago that when they were freshmen we were 0-5 and finished 0-10," Victory coach Brent Marley said. "They can still taste that and were determined not to let that ever happen again."
The Conquerors, who were 7-4 last year, have only had one close call in 2012 - a 35-34 victory over No. 10 Tahlequah Sequoyah in Week 3. Victory trailed 27-0 early in the fourth quarter before rallying behind quarterback Keats Calhoon, who also has surpassed expectations as a freshman. Calhoon is among the state's passing leaders with 1,131 yards and 11 TDs.
"His best attribute is when the protection breaks down, he is able to keep the play alive with his feet and also keeps his eyes down field," Marley said.
Victory also has a strong group of seniors that includes versatile Cole Taylor, who is one of the state's leading scorers, plus leading tacklers Nick George, Josiah Freesemann and Daniel August.
Marley is trying not to look too far ahead at the possibility of a 10-0 regular season.
"We have Big Mo on our side, but we've got to keep getting better," Marley said. "We have to treat every week like it's the most important week."
Victory plays at Okmulgee (1-4) on Friday.
At Fort Gibson, the Tigers are ranked No. 6 in 4A with their first 5-0 start since 2003.
"The town is really, really excited," Fort Gibson coach James Singleton said. "Everyone has got football fever."
In 2011, Fort Gibson went 5-6 (including a forfeit win) in his first year as head coach. The Tigers also showed progress last year with a freshman, the coach's son, J.R. Singleton, who is making major strides as a sophomore. A pass-run threat, he has accounted for 952 total yards and 12 TDs.
"He has taken more control of the offense this year," James Singleton said. "Early last year, he was more of a manager of the game. This year, the offense is running more through him. Our offense has opened up a little more and we don't have to solely depend on Jake."
He was referring to Jake Gandara, a tailback- cornerback who is No. 7 in the All-World rankings. Gandara was plagued for most of the season's first half with a high ankle sprain, but Coach Singleton said that "he showed signs last week of being back to his old self," as he had 207 total yards and four TDs against Broken Bow.
Fort Gibson, one win away from its first winning season since 2005, will receive a challenge this week when it visits Poteau (4-1). The Tigers have home games remaining against No. 1 Cascia Hall on Oct. 18 and No. 8 Sallisaw on Nov. 2.
"We know we've got to keep our focus week-to-week," James Singleton said. "We've got to keep rising to the challenge.
"We lost some close games last year and we're winning those this year. This year, we're confident and expect to win."
Recruiting update: Metro Christian senior lineman Zach Webb, who was No. 10 in the preseason All-World rankings, is starting to attract more interest from college recruiters. Among the colleges recruiting him are Penn State, Tulsa, Air Force, Dartmouth, Pittsburg State and Valparaiso.
Webb is a two-way starter and has 34 tackles on defense. Last week, he also punted for the first time and averaged 41.7 yards on three kicks.
Week 5 stars: Class 4A No. 9 Cleveland improved to 5-0 as Chas Stallard had 25 carries for 143 yards and two TDs, completed 12-of-21 passes for 149 yards and scored on a fumble return in a 23-7 win over Vinita...
Wyandotte's Brady Barrett had 30 carries for 191 yards and two TDs plus a pair of 2-point conversions and four tackles in a 28-6 win over Hulbert last Friday.
Thursday schedule: Games involving area teams on Thursday include Edison (1-4) hosting Muskogee (0-4) at LaFortune Stadium, Vinita (1-4) at Webster (0-5) and Holland Hall (3-2) at Irving (Texas) Cistercian (4-1).
Save the date: Athletes and coaches from all area high schools are invited to attend the Tulsa World's Winter Sports Photo Day that is scheduled from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Union High School's UMAC's Redskin Room. Coaches from basketball, wrestling, swimming and other winter sports are asked to bring their top five to six athletes. Football teams that missed the World's Fall Sports Photo Day in August also are invited to attend.
Basketball forms mailed: The World has mailed this week preseason basketball questionnaires to all state high school basketball coaches. If a coach has not received a form by next Monday, please contact Barry Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 918-581-8393.
Jake Gandara had 207 total yards and four TDs against Broken Bow. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World