Bobcats to face ‘mirror image’ in top-ranked Pond Creek-Hunter

Austin Olson and Adam DeLeon bring down Coyle’s Chaz Newton last Friday night in Tyrone’s 52-6 quarterfinal win. The state semifinals might come down to who has the better defense as two strong offenses clash in Woodward. (Staff photo/Shawn Yorks)
Shawn Yorks
Staff Writer

When the Tyrone Bobcats take the field Friday night in Woodward for the Class C state semifinals, fans might notice some similarities in style of play. The No. 1-ranked Pond Creek-Hunter Panthers (12-0) and the No. 3-ranked Tyrone Bobcats (11-0) are each run-heavy, with a passing attack in reserve that’s equally as deadly.

The game could boil down to defense and who makes the least mistakes.

“They’re real similar to us,” head coach Josh Bell said. “They run the ball real effectively and when they need to throw, they’re pretty accurate in their throwing game, too.”

The Panthers put together an unbeaten season after dropping from Class B, where they went 6-4 a year ago. Pond Creek was 2-time Class B state runner-up under coach David Kerr in 2012 and 2013, losing to Laverne both times.

“It’s a good challenge for us,” Bell said. “They’re obviously well-coached and good kids, but it’s a challenge that, not only us coaches, but our kids are excited to have in front of us.”

The Panthers have outscored their opponents 568-74 in 12 games, an average of 47-6, while the Bobcats have outscored their 11 opponents 592-94 for an average of 54-9.

Leading the way for the Tyrone rushing game is Josh Bean, who inched over the thousand-yard mark in the quarterfinal win over Coyle and now stands at 1,073 yards for the season. Tanner Hurst used his arm more than his legs last week, but still sits at 990 yards rushing. Jonathan Corrales has rushed for 832 and Antonio Pacheco 603.

The Bobcats competed with the Panthers over the summer at the Cherokee camp, and Bell said he felt they matched up well. And the fact the Panthers have earned the No. 1 state ranking in the final Associated Press poll doesn’t seem to matter. No intimidation, just business as usual

“I think they’re excited to go out there and play and show that we belong,” Bell said

Panther quarterback Derek Halcomb is 6-foot-1, 225 pounds and also plays middle linebacker, 6-2 tight end Blake Hayner and 6-3 tight end Jevan Overton are his favorite targets.

“We have to win individual battles,” Bell said. “Guys are going to have to win their battles across the line. I think if we can do that, it’s going to come down to which team can limit turnovers and which team can produce more stops on defense. It’s a tremendous challange but it’s one we’re extremely excited to be a part of.”

Bell expects the same kids to step up and make the same big plays they have all year. The secondary of Chance Duty, Adrian Lopez and Tanner Hurst will be tested, as will linebackers Jonathan Corrales and Josh Bean.

“Those guys are going to have to play really well in our secondary for passing game and run support,” Bell said. “And our front three, Willie Slater, Adam DeLeon and Austin Olson are going to have to really contain the run and put some pressure on them when they drop back to pass.”

The Bobcats are hoping for a large turnout at Boomer Stadium.

“Last guy out of town, turn the lights off,” Bell said. “We want to make sure everybody’s down there. These guys are ready for it, they’ve been waiting all year, pointing to these kind of games. You always take care of the one in front of you, and now you’re there. This is a big one, you win this one you get to play for hardware, just depends on what color. You lose this one you come home with nothing and that would be hard to swallow.”

•Boomer Stadium is located on the campus of Woodward High School, 2406 13th Street in Woodward.

•The Bobcats will be on the visitor’s side of the stadium.

•The other semifinal features No. 2 Tipton (11-1) vs. unranked Kremlin-Hillsdale (8-3), Friday night at Del City High School.