For the past few weeks in the Chickasha football locker room, the name of their opponents in tonight's season opener was not to be uttered.
Such is the rivalry between the Fightin' Chicks and Anadarko, last year's 4A state runner-up and past 3A champions who are gunning once again for Oklahoma football's top honor.
And Anadarko presents a very tough challenge for the first game. While returning a large portion of his team last year, head coach Kent Jackson also has R.J. Sink at his disposal. Sink is rated as one of the top 100 players in the state and is reportedly being courted by Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Now a senior, Sink will be looking to top over 1,800 yards rushing last year and 35 touchdowns.
Leading the Chickasha defense is senior T.J. Filer, who at linebacker will be plugging the middle. In the build up to the season, Lindbergh Carey and Evan Copeland were moved from deep back slots to fill in at outside linebacker. Copple and the coaching staff were happy with the results that brought more speed to the linebackers section of the defense.
But there are multiple threats for Chickasha to worry about. Jackson has spoken of his desire to spread the ball around on offense. Receivers like Brayden Alexander and Josh Parton will need to be watched closely, as quarterback Brandon Pollard brings a 65 percent completion rating into 2013.
If there's one weakness Chickasha can exploit, it's the Anadarko defense that has seen a lot of changes. The Fightin' Chicks bring four healthy running backs up against the 4-4 system, including seniors Tresjon Davis and Josh Lathan.
Tuttle's first game at home against Plainview offers transfer Jett Jobe his first runout as the Tigers' quarterback. The former Pioneer student will have a tough task ahead of him in 3A-District 1, with state champion Blanchard to contend with.
The Lions begin their attempt at a repeat against Bethany at home and have six offensive starters returning from that 2012 title winning team. Running back Braden Stringer is one of the most notable returners after logging 1,377 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground last season.