COWETA – Ho hum. Just another typical football game between Wagoner County rivals Wagoner and Coweta.
The recent series has been high on drama with shocking rallies to turn potential defeats into victory. At least, that’s been the script Wagoner has followed the last two meetings.
On Friday night, Sept. 6, the two teams wrote a hard fought, yet bizarre chapter, to this storied war on the turf.
Here is just a sample of the 36-27 victory won for the seventh year in a row by Wagoner.
• Wagoner scores the games first 36 points. Coweta suddenly takes advantage of Bulldog mistakes and scores the game’s final 27 points.
• Wagoner could do nothing wrong in the first half. The Bulldogs, however, did very little right in the second half with penalties, interceptions and generally running out of gas.
• Coweta was just the opposite. It took the Tigers until the :24 second mark left in the first half before they managed their second first down. The second half found everything the defense did turned into gold or at least set up quick touchdowns to suddenly make a potential rout into a nail-biter.
• Wagoner’s Isaac Smith transferred from Coweta and faced his old team. He not only led the Bulldogs out of the locker room to start the game, but also got a quarterback sack to end the wild contest.
• Junior Bulldog wide receiver Chase Nanni had a career game playing pitch and catch with junior quarterback Sawyer Jones. Nanni caught six passes for 132 yards and two TDs. His scores came on a 30-yard toss and a perfectly thrown 43-yard pass that he took in stride. He also caught a 2-point conversion pass.
Ironically, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound receiver started his prep career as a running back.
“In seventh grade, I caught a touchdown pass against Coweta and I became a wide receiver,” Nanni said after his career night.
All of 2018, Nanni had one TD. He opened the 2019 season with two and the sky appears to be the limit for him the rest of the season.
“The first half was awesome. We (Sawyer Jones and I) have been playing football since we were little in the IMFC days,” Nanni said of the passing chemistry between he and the quarterback.
• Senior Drew Mills had a great night on both sides of the ball. Mills returned an interception 54 yards for a TD, caught a 4-yard TD pass and threw for a 2-point conversion.
• Coweta’s Mason Ford is just a freshman, but made some plays upperclassmen make. Ford and teammate Jonathan Fadeyev had a key interception during the furious second half rally. Ford scored the last TD for the Tigers, too.
• Tiger quarterback Gage Hamm, who is only a sophomore, threw for 164 yards and two TDs. He also ran for a TD in his first varsity start against Wagoner.
Wagoner coach Dale Condict and Coweta coach Tim Harper shared a half of frustration during the game. Harper found the first half less than hoped for, but when the Tigers got going in the second half things improved greatly.
Condict was more than pleased with the opening two quarters for Wagoner, but would rather forget the final 24 minutes.
“The first half we looked like contenders,” Condict said. “We ran out of gas in the second half.”
Another thing Condict was quite clear about after the game was his distaste with major penalties his team incurred.
“I’m not going to accept 5 of 6 personal foul penalties,” Condict said.
The Bulldogs finished the game with 13 penalties for 94 yards. The last two personal foul calls helped move Coweta down the field to TDs.
Of Smith’s last tackle to end the game, Condict added, “It was a fitting end. This game is always crazy.”
Smith agreed about the mental state of the game.
“It was crazy,” Smith said. “But, I’m thankful for the fans (who supported us).”
Mills echoed teammates and coaches.
“It was one of the craziest games I’ve played in,” he said.
The one sure thing in this rivalry is that neither team gives up and that fact was so evident on Friday night. Wagoner goes home still leading the head-to-head series, 36-25-1.