In two years of Blanchard football that have included playoff runs as deep as teams can go, it seems like too much for even the most dedicated of players.
It's a significant factor in the difficulties of winning two state titles in a row, but the Lions have made that task look relatively easy, save last week's 20-17 win over Plainview that required a last minute touchdown drive capped by a Braden Stringer run into the end zone. Looking at the Blanchard players now heading into their second state title game in a row tonight in Boon Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, there are no signs of an ounce of energy that has been wasted or lost.
"They're not tired; in fact, they're probably a little sad it is going to be over," head coach Jeff Craig said. "The great thing for us is our guys enjoy being around each other. We work hard, but we have fun doing it. They enjoy their time together, and that allows us to not get tired."
The energetic Lions' opponents, Kingfisher, are tired, but only of losing in state finals. In the past four years, the Yellowjackets have taken three silver balls. What's more, last year's runner-up trophy came as a result of a 28-21 loss to Blanchard.
"When you look at those things, you know they've got to be motivated," Craig said. "But, that can lead to a little bit of doubt. Last year, I don't think they underestimated us, but they had been crowned champions for the entire year. So when they got into a hole, the end just sort of crept up on them."
The undefeated Yellowjackets have been flying high behind running back Landon Nault, who has put up 2,266 yards on the ground this season and scored 45 touchdowns. Kingfisher does have the tools for a more potent passing game than Blanchard is accustomed to facing. Tight end Jace Sternberger is a threatening target for quarterback Docker Haub, with 171 yards off eight catches and four touchdowns this year.
With the experience from last year and having shown they can both put a game away early and come back under pressure, Craig said his team is ready for this final hurdle.
"Our guys have been there before," Craig said. "We're returning nine of eleven starters on defense from last year, and Kingfisher's not going to change. We want to force them into those wrinkles, like throwing the ball or making them run a part of their offense they don't like to run.
"We've got the experience and we have the hunger to do it again."