Last year a 4-0 MacArthur team headed to 3-1 Altus to take on a Bulldog team that was beginning to find success in its new offense. Believe it or not, the stakes have risen in this district 5A-1 matchup as both teams are vying for the top spot.
"I think we're going to have to match the excitement that they're going to come with. Last year I felt they were the team that brought the excitement into the game and we didn't. So we're going to have to match that," said MacArthur coach Brett Manning.
"We know this is a huge game in our district for where things will fall, whether it's first place or last place. Who knows where everybody is going to be? It's such a huge district game," Altus coach Jeremy Reed said.
Altus is clicking on all cylinders offensively in 2015. The Bulldogs are averaging nearly 42 points per game. But they'll face maybe their toughest test against a MacArthur defense that is holding opponents to under 15 points per contest.
"I think they have a great defense. But I think we can do some things offensively that obviously they haven't seen just because of the type of scheme we run," Reed said. "So it'll be a little different for them and we'll get to see how that pans out on Friday night."
"It's really tough because we don't see it very often. We're starting to see it more. Ardmore runs it too and Chickasha is running it now," Manning said. "You know, I think they're really well coached. I think they've got good players, like Jaden Benway and Taven Birdow and a whole cast of other guys. And you put that together with coaching and guys that no how to run this offense, and it's dangerous."
On the other side, quarterback J.R.Winningham will make his third start of the season for MacArthur after replacing the injured Anthony Love. The Highlanders are pleased with how the sophomore has progressed to this point.
"I think J.R. is doing a great job. I think he is doing exactly what we ask him to do which is get the ball to the guys that can make plays for us and he's handled it all extremely well. I'm proud of him," Manning said.
"He's starting to feel more comfortable with us. He runs the ball when he needs to. If he feels threatened, he'll come up and talk to us and make sure we see what we're doing wrong and make sure he's got good pass protection when he sits up in the pocket. And he sits there a lot longer than he did as a freshman," added MacArthur senior Isaiah Williams.
With an offense as talented as MacArthur's, Altus understands that it can't afford to zero in on any one player.
"A certain thing never changes and that's athleticism. Just different numbers on jerseys. So we want to pay attention to the athleticism and play the game with great angles and pursue the football," Reed said. "They're running back is a great player. They have great receivers. They're good up front. I don't think there's one player you isolate on or you're going to be in trouble."
"We just really got to go get the job done. Make sure we know our assignments and where to go and when to go," added Altus senior Deante Harris.