GAMEDAY: Buffs readying for annual POTAC game

·4 min read

Sep. 9—McAlester is looking to keep bragging rights in one of the state's oldest rivalries.

5A-No. 1 McAlester (2-0) is playing host to Ada (1-0) at Hook Eales Stadium on Friday in the latest edition of the historic rivalry against the Cougars.

Buffs coach Forrest Mazey said his team is coming off a very tough out-of-state win last week, and things are going in the right direction. But the slate is wiped clean every week, and it's time to go to work once again.

"We've just got to continue to get tough and worry about us," he said. "We've got to worry about how much we can get better week to week, and worry about us. We'll worry about our opponent when we play them — we'll play whoever's put in front of us."

But McAlester will have no problem getting hyped and focused on its next opponent, as the Buffs give a not-so-warm welcome to long-standing rival Ada — whom McAlester defeated 42-14 to give the Buffs their first win in the rivalry since 2011.

The Cougars are coming off a 35-18 road win over then-5A No. 9 Ardmore in last week's season opener. Quarterback Carter Freeland went 8-of-12 passing for 178 yards and two touchdowns, with top target Andrew Hughes reining in three of those passes for 116 yards and the two scores. Jack Morris also added four catches for 51 yards.

On the ground, Ada's Darias Gilmore led the way with 15 rushes for 68 yards, followed by Kaden Gallagher with three carries for 23 yards and a score, Xander Rhynes three carries for 15 yards, and Damontre Patterson with five rushes for 10 yards.

The Ada defense was led by Fisher Marr and George Maddox with 6.5 tackles each, followed by Chase Bailey with 5.5 and Gallagher with four tackles. The Cougars also had four sacks on the night against Ardmore.

But the Buffs have many weapons on their own to counter the Ada attack, and with two wins now under their belt.

Junior quarterback Caden Lesnau has thrown 21 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns, with fellow junior quarterback Lance Stone adding in six passes for 91 yards. On the receiving end, junior Jaxon Lauerman is leading with seven catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns, followed by senior Chaz Bradley with eight catches for 68 yards and a score, and junior Carter Lance with three catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns.

McAlester's storied ground game adds another facet to the offense, led by senior Erik McCarty with 127 yards and two touchdowns, followed by senior Dakota Moton with 26 carries for 97 yards, and Stone with 10 carries for 66 yards and the score.

Defensively, the vaunted Black Death Defense has been led by linebackers Stone and sophomore Will Spears, as well as defensive lineman Garrett Shumway. The trio has combined for 31 tackles, including seven tackles for loss and six sacks. And that's not counting the many ball hawks that make up the McAlester secondary.

Mazey said that although McAlester has many weapons at its disposal, they also have to put in the work to be able to use them to their full potential. He used McCarty's record-breaking game last week as an example of how every player on the team will need to continue to push themselves throughout the season.

"He's done a great job, and once again, we're going to ask him to do things that others can't or won't," Mazey said. "And we're going to ask this team to do what others can't and won't. And we're going to ask them to push forward."

But he's confident his team is going to rise to the challenge, and he's excited to see the new heights they reach each week. But as for the game in front of them, he won't have to add any extra motivation.

"I ain't got to say anything when it's POTAC," he said.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.