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December 3, 2013

Lions roar on to 3A semifinals

BLANCHARD —

Playoffs are generally thought of as games that are supposed to be close as the ultimate life-or-death situation of sports.

This is especially true for quarterfinals, but running back Braden Stringer and the Blanchard Lions apparently don't abide by those guidelines. Their 42-13 victory over Lincoln Christian was anything but close, and Stringer, whose exploits on the ground have been the basis for many Blanchard blowouts this season, had a lot to do with that.

"I haven't gone into our records, but I can't imagine many guys doing that," head coach Jeff Craig said about Stringer's 340 yards and six touchdowns off 26 carries last Friday. "That's something we'll worry about when the season is over. Right now, we're just happy to get the W."

Unstoppable does not begin to describe it, nor does it describe Blanchard's postseason play so far. Stringer averaged 12.6 yards per carry, an unheard of average even in the regular season. The Lions have outscored their three playoff opponents by a combined 158-26, but their most recent victory appears to have produced one of their best team performance so far.

"We've played pretty complete for the past few weeks," Craig said. "With Braden, if we can get it to where he's only got one or two guys to beat, he's probably going to get free. Our offensive line has done a great job of taking care of everything else to put us in that situation, and our defense has played very well."

But before anyone jumps on the Blanchard repeat state title bandwagon, there's the matter of next week's opponent, Plainview. The Indians topped Locust Grove 41-12, and have only given up 18 points in the postseason. They, too, rely on a solid running game, and Craig said his team is taking care to not let the one-sided victories go to their heads.

"At this point, ti doesn't matter what we did last week, or even during the season; no one cares," Craig said. "Plainview has been on everyone's radar, but no one was really convinced. I told someone the other day they remind me of us last year. We had to prove it on a daily basis, and that's what they've done."

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