ALTUS, Okla (KSWO) - It's no accident the Altus Bulldogs sit 5-0, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A. However, this week may be their biggest test yet, as they host No. 5 Ardmore. The Tigers are a mirror image of the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball, allowing for more detailed preparation in practice.
"They run the same offense of course, and I think they run the same defense we usually run against them," senior linebacker Hunter Cleveland said. "Our coaches, every game they're always doing an amazing job. They make Friday nights pretty easy for us. They prepare us really well."
"The good thing about it is that we get to show our defense exactly what they're going to see," said head coach Todd Vargas. "There are differences in our offense and Ardmore's. But the basis of what we're doing, our coaching staff, this week our offensive coaches are just as involved with the defensive plan as the defensive coaches are."
The Ardmore offense scores an average of 42 points per game, making the task of slowing them down a difficult one. But it does not seem to concern Coach Vargas too much, given the fact his defense only allows 12 per game
"Very tenacious. Very aggressive. These kids that are on our defensive team, they love to play defense. They are true grit, warrior-type kids. And so with that, with the mentality that's given through Coach Terry and that defensive staff, it just makes up a special blend of guys that are relentless," Vargas said.
"Everyone on the defense does a really good job of playing relentless. Running to the ball every play and having 11 hats on the ball," added Cleveland.
The Bulldogs plan to fire back with a balanced offensive attack that outscores opponents by 22 points. It's a group that continues to improve week-by-week, most notably in the pass game.
"We've improved with our reads from the quarterback position and on. I think the offensive line has become grittier, tougher. Our angles. Our offense is all predicated on angles and techniques. And so, technique-wise we've gotten better and better," Vargas said. "Last week we showed that we can throw the ball a little. So we've gotten better in the passing game. We have not peaked yet. We're excited about the progression we've had on our offense."
"It all starts with the guys up front, like Keegan Pride, Cade Wilson, Kamron Canchola, Keegan Shive, and Josue Arroyo. They do a great job. Those are five big guys and I think they'll get the job done. I think that's where it starts," Cleveland said.
The District 5A-1 showdown will kick-off Friday night at 7:00 in Altus.