Inside 0-4 Watonga lies a dangerous football team for Oklahoma Bible Academy head coach Mark Boyd, whose 3-2 Trojans go to the cheese capital Friday for the first-ever meeting between the two schools in a District A-5 battle.
“They’re still Watonga,’’ Boyd said. “They have had a couple of bad breaks and a couple of bad bounces. We would be crazy to look at 0-4 and think that gives us any distinct advantage.’’
The injury report might.
Jack Lafferty, projected to be the Eagles’ quarterback, was injured in the preseason and hasn’t played a down.
Darren Williams, who replaced him, was injured in the first game of the season against Hinton.
Sophomore Kaleb McSperitt, Williams’ replacement, was injured in the third game against Oklahoma Christian Academy.
Senior Mario Reyes, the Eagles’ most potent offensive weapon, was lost for the season against OCA. Three-year starter Brandon Parker is just coming back from a broken arm.
“I’ve never been through anything like this injury-wise,’’ said Eagles head coach David Lorenz. “It’s one of those deals where we had to plug up holes. You fill one spot, and then you have to fill another.’’
Williams and McSperitt are both expected to play Friday. Williams, a returning starter at wide receiver, had never played the position before.
“It’s such a big deal when you’re unstable there,’’ Lorenz said. “It’s not that the kids aren’t talented, they just lack experience. Darren never had any JV games where he could get the maturity, which is so important.”
“We just threw Kaleb in.’’
Senior running back-linebacker Jose Duenas has been a bright spot for the Eagles. He is the team’s leading tackler, and has been the workhorse on offense.
“He’s really a good player,’’ Boyd said.
Watonga’s 54-8 loss to Chisholm told the story of the Eagles’ season so year. The Longhorns scored back-to-back defensive touchdowns on a 56-yard fumble recovery and a 54-yard pass interception.
“We actually outgained them in the first half, but the score (41-0) didn’t reflect that,’’ Lorenz said. “The turnovers really hurt us. The kids have played hard and battled. Our morale and spirit are good. We keep plugging away.’’
Watonga’s deep tradition is what concerns Boyd. It will be the Eagles’ homecoming game and first home game. Many of the players have family who have played on championship teams.
“I’ve been there as a coach, and a player, and it’s one of the places that is considered to be a hostile environment,’’ Boyd said. “You’re right there next to the track. It’s not an easy place to play.’’
Lorenz said not having a home game (road losses to Hinton, 21-20; Fairview, 35-0; OCA, 38-15 and Chisholm 54-8) “have been the least of our worries.’’
“We are looking forward to playing at home,’’ Lorenz said. “It’s still early in the district season. The sophomores continue to grow up and we’re looking forward to getting better every week ... we keep telling ourselves that somewhere deep in there, there’s a good football team, even with the kids we have now. Our aim is to win the game Friday. We’re coaching harder than we have ever coached.’’
Lorenz, a Watonga graduate himself, is playing the tradition card.
“We have talked about tradition and what that name on the chest means,’’ he said. “I grew up here. Nobody recognizes that more than I do. No doubt pride has to come in.’’
The Trojans will be a bit of mystery. Baylor Boyd, who hasn’t played quarterback the past three games because of a broken hand, may take some snaps there this week.
“We’ll see how he throws this week,’’ said coach Boyd. “He shook hands with me fine yesterday, but it’s different throwing a football. We want to give him a few reps if he can’t.’’
Preston Atwood, a shiftier runner than Boyd, might match up better against Watonga at quarterback. Atwood, who started the season at receiver, could interchange with Baylor Boyd at running back.
“Preston made some good moves against OCA,’’ Boyd said. “We ran the ball well last week and did what we needed to do.’’
The Trojans rushed for 296 yards and threw for another 121. Manny Walker, who has been slowed by injuries, had a 66-yard touchdown.
“He looked like the old Manny there,’’ Boyd said.
Randall Nesom and Bryce Snapp both graded high defensively. Snapp, a sophomore outside linebacker, had “three major collisions with their quarterback and came out on the good end on all of them.’’
OBA, 1-1 in district, can put itself in a solid position for the playoffs with a win. Watonga is the first of four traditional powers the Trojans will play in the second half — Crescent, Oct. 24; Okeene, Oct. 31 and Cashion, Nov. 7. Crescent (0-5) and Okeene (2-3) are both a little down from past seasons.
“We need to win,’’ Boyd said. “A loss won’t mathematically put us out of it. We need to take care of business, which isn’t easy at Watonga.’’