REJOICE FOOTBAL

Rejoice Christian’s Riley Walker looks for a receiver against Haskell on Sept. 20. Rejoice reached the Class A semifinals last year. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

2018 champion

Tonkawa: The Buccaneers won their third gold ball in coach Mike Kirtley’s 17 seasons. Heavy graduation caught up with them in 2019 and they failed to qualify for the playoffs out of rugged District A-5.

Teams to beat

The favorite is frequently hard to identify in this classification because the best teams almost never cross paths before the playoffs. Senior-laden Cashion (9-0) has held the No. 1 spot all season and hasn’t had a game decided by fewer than 11 points. No. 2 Rejoice Christian, a state semifinalist last year, leads Class A in scoring offense, averaging 54.7 points per game. No. 3 Stroud (10-0) has scored 50 or more in each of its past five games. No. 4 Pawnee (10-0) averages 357 rushing yards per game. No. 5 Pawhuska (9-1) has its best regular-season record in 19 years. No. 6 Ringling (8-1) has seven consecutive shutouts and allows only 3.5 points per game.

Area teams to watch

Rejoice Christian: Riley Walker has 30 passing touchdowns, Nate Anderson averages 12.8 yards per carry and Zach Hair has 12 tackles for loss. The Eagles are 23-1 over the past two years.

Stroud: The Tigers’ unbeaten regular season is the third in coach Chris Elerick’s 15 seasons. Elerick’s twin sons, Grant and Drew Elerick, lead the way, and Gage Parrick has rushed for 1,095 yards and 22 TDs.

Pawnee: Trevor Mitchell, Blake Skidgel and Wylee Craig have combined for 31 rushing TDs. The Black Bears’ record is their best in 13 years.

Pawhuska: Bryce Drummond has accounted for 3,255 yards and 46 TDs, Cade McNeil has caught eight TD passes and Hunter Reed has 124 tackles.

Players to watch

Damion Dover, LB, Gore: Had 73 tackles through nine games, leading a defense that allows only 11.3 points per game.

Jack Long, LB/RB, Pawhuska: Sophomore has 100 tackles and ranks among national sacks leaders with 17.

Amos Satepauhoodle, OT/DT, Hominy: Powerful two-way lineman has 28 pancake blocks, 40 tackles and 13 TFLs.

Looking ahead

Barring upsets, a Pawhuska-at-Stroud matchup promises fireworks in the second round.

Predicted state champion

Rejoice Christian 31, Cashion 24