When Brent Marley saw who his team had drawn for the first round of the playoffs, the Rejoice Christian coach was not exactly giddy.
The No. 2-ranked Eagles have been absolutely dominant throughout the regular season, a campaign that resulted in a second straight District A-6 championship and an unblemished 10-0 record. Rejoice will host Hominy at 7 p.m. Friday inside Rejoice Stadium.
Rejoice is familiar with the Bucks, despite not squaring off in the regular season. Hominy finished 7-3 on the season and claimed the final playoff spot out of A-5 after wins over traditional power Morrison and defending champion Tonkawa in the last two weeks.
“It’s a tough first draw,” Marley said. “It’s not your 4-6 team in the first round that sometimes people get.”
The two teams have been part of the same passing league during the last few summers and meet annually in the first scrimmage. Hominy is, in a word, huge. The Bucks roster lists four players at least 240 pounds, headlined by 6-foot-6, 300-pound senior lineman Amos Satepauhoodle.
As expected, Marley said Hominy will try to run the ball behind its behemoths up front.
“They’re huge up front on both sides of the ball,” Marley said. “They are a downhill, smash-mouth football team, but they are throwing the ball better lately. They are well-coached and they have a defined identity. That’s what makes them so tough.”
Rejoice enters the playoffs after a regular season in which it once again put up video game-type numbers.
The Eagle offense averaged more than 54 points per game. Defensively, they surrendered just 63 points in 10 games.
Quarterback Riley Walker has thrown for 2,214 yards and 30 touchdowns. In his third year as a starter, Walker has continued his reputation as a winner. The senior has won 33 of his 36 starts for the Eagles, including a 29-1 record in the regular season.
Gage Barham has been Walker’s top target this season with 40 catches for 736 yards and 12 touchdowns. But after Barham, Walker has spread the ball evenly as the next seven receivers have between 10 and 20 receptions.
Running back Nate Anderson has been dynamic in his first year starting in the backfield with 1,148 rushing yards. Anderson has tallied 22 touchdowns on just 95 carries and has averaged more than 12 yards per tote.
Senior linebacker Zach Hair has led the defense with 68 total tackles, including 12 for loss. Senior defensive end Duke Curtis has a team-high five sacks while freshman free safety Chance Wilson has tallied five interceptions.
The Eagle defense has allowed just 136 yards per game and held opponents to miniscule 18 percent conversion rate on third down.
In order to continue Rejoice’s season beyond Friday night, Marley said tempo will be a key for his team against Hominy.
“Defensively, we need to get the ball, get them off the field and not let them control the clock,” Marley said. “We need to control the run and game and not give up anything easy in the pass game…Offensively, just do what we do and don’t turn the ball over. Just relax and play hard.”