While it doesn’t have the long and storied history as its series with Chickasha or Carl Albert, El Reno High School's football team faces the first of back-to-back rivalry games Friday night.
Coming off a 20-13 win over Class 4A power Poteau in its season opener, El Reno hits the road for a short 20-mile jaunt to Piedmont to play the Wildcats – which kicks off a new era under former Yukon coach Jeff Hall.
“This has become a rivalry game in the last couple of years. There is a little beef between the students about who is going to beat whom,” said junior quarterback Dorian Plumley.
El Reno and Piedmont in the past have played each other in every sport offered by the two schools, though softball is not slated to face each other in the 2019 regular season. While both are members of the Suburban Conference, the schools have played only three times in football.
Piedmont took the first game back in 2016 by a 30-15 margin, before El Reno repaid the favor a year later with a 27-14 win in the inaugural game at F&M Bank Stadium.
Last season El Reno pulled out a 33-27 decision at Memorial Stadium to take a 2-1 series lead.
“People may want to deny it but this is a rivalry game and we really want to beat those guys at their place. There is so much heat and trash talk going into it and there is a lot of stuff going on,” said tight end Kolton Hunt.
To keep its win streak alive against the Wildcats and give head coach Chuck Atchison his first 2-0 start while on the Indians sidelines, El Reno is going to have to clean up loose ends exposed by the Pirates.
El Reno racked up 354 yards of total offense on 48 plays for a 7.38 yards per snap average. However, the Indians had seven drives hampered by penalties and closed the game with 13 flags for 125 yards.
Out of the 48 total snaps, 27 went for 10 or fewer yards, with 23 of those being six or less. Five more plays were thrown for losses totaling 21 yards and El Reno had three fumbles and several more bobbled or low snaps.
“We’ve got to clean up some holding calls along with a bunch of other things, but that all comes with time. This was our first game and we got the win,” said Hunt.
The Indians crossed into Poteau territory 10 times but came away with points on only three drives. Plumley had a 2-yard touchdown run called back on a holding call, while two other drives in the Pirates end of the field were stymied by two major infractions of unsportsmanlike conduct and offensive pass interference.
Two key possessions came away empty not by penalties but by the lack of execution. Rafe Goucher recovered a fumble at the Poteau 7-yard line in the fourth period but the Indians turned the ball over on downs.
A dropped pass on a wide-open play near the Pirates 10-yard line stopped a potential scoring opportunity.
“We cannot beat ourselves against Piedmont like we did at times tonight. We have got to go out there and do everything 100 percent and strive for that on every single play,” said Plumley.
El Reno's defense held a run-heavy Poteau attack to 181 yards on the ground and 229 total for the game.
However, the Indians allowed 15 runs to go for more than 5 yards including a 80-yard touchdown run.
The defense will get tested again this week as Piedmont will be running the flexbone attack under Hall.