No. 1 MacArthur, No. 5 Altus set for high-stakes 5A-1 tilt - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

No. 1 MacArthur, No. 5 Altus set for high-stakes 5A-1 tilt

LAWTON, Okla (KSWO) - Last season, MacArthur handed Altus its lone loss of 2015. This year, the Bulldogs enter their game against Mac with one loss already. They know one more can cost them any chance at a district title or hosting a playoff game.

“Home field implications in the playoffs. Anywhere from first, second, to third place. They understand that and we've been preparing,” said Altus coach Todd Vargas. “You know, we've had big games all year. We feel like this is just another big game. These guys know this is the most important game of the year.”

“I think it's made us realize we need to approach games, I wouldn't say more serious because we took it serious. We need to play every down harder and better. It opened our eyes,” said Bulldog linebacker Kamron Canchola.

Even though they sit at 8-0, MacArthur looks to avoid succumbing to the pressure that record may carry.

“It's very easy to get tight in a game like this, really press, and I don't want them to do that. I want them to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere,” said MacArthur coach Brett Manning.

“We take every game, every week as its own game. We don't talk about how we're going to take the whole season,” said MacArthur linebacker Sam Smith. “It’s one game at a time. And we have a different focus, a different mentality for each game.”

Altus' defense is a clear strength of this team, giving up only 11 points per game. They will be given the task of stopping a Mac offense with numerous weapons, most notably in the run game.

“Putting sniffers, sniffer backs in the back field. Using a big, oversized offensive line. And so there's no doubt our defensive line is going to have to play extremely well because there is a lot of weight coming at them,” Vargas said.

“They are good at preventing points. They are very opportunistic, you know. They can still come up with interceptions and fumbles and return those for big gains to set themselves up with good field position,” said Manning.

The Altus rushing attack certainly anchors their offense as well. But it's their passing game that MacArthur remains cautious of.

“It sounds funny, but you get so involved with stopping the run, you know they end up with wide open receivers and we can't let that happen,” Manning said. “We're going to have to do a good job of stopping their running game and slow their running game down. But we're also going to have to do a good job of reading our keys and make sure we're not falling asleep on the pass.”

“We pick our spots, and if we feel like we have an advantage, we're going to throw the ball. If we feel like we don't have that advantage, or we don't need to, then we're not going to throw it,” Vargas said. “There's some games where throwing doesn't even come into our mind because when we're running the ball successfully, there's no reason.”

Kick-off is set for 7:00 Friday night at Cameron Stadium.

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