TUTTLE — According to Tuttle head coach Brad Ballard, a team has a chance to be successful at this point if it can be solid in at least two certain areas.
“This time of year, if you play defense and run the football, you’ve got a chance,” Ballard said.
In Tuttle’s quarterfinal win over Wagoner on Friday, the Tigers kept Wagoner out of the end zone and ran for four touchdowns. The Tigers avenged last season’s quarterfinal loss to the Bulldogs, advancing to the Class 4A semifinals with a 28-0 victory in Tuttle.
“I was very proud of them,” Ballard said after the win. “I think that's one of the better games we've played.”
The Tigers moved the ball on their first two offensive possessions but did not score until their third series of the game. After having success on the first two drives, Canon West broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run to get the Tigers on the board in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Tuttle’s defense controlled the game from start to finish. The Tigers continued to stand strong after Wagoner quarterback Gabe Rodriguez left the game with an injury.
Using West’s ability to run the ball again, Tuttle extended its lead to 13 points on his second touchdown run of the game.
That touchdown made Wagoner’s situation even more difficult, and Wagoner faced a 13-point deficit that seemed like it was larger.
Tuttle went to the second half with a 13-0 lead and put the game away with 15 fourth-quarter points.
Chance Cobb found the end zone in the fourth quarter, and Tuttle found the end zone for two points after the touchdown. West recorded his third touchdown run of the game in the quarter.
Ballard credited the offense for sticking to the plan throughout the night.
“I thought they did a good job of just sticking with the plan. I thought we were patient,” he said. “I thought the offensive line just kind of imposed their will.”
Tuttle's defense extended the amount of time it had gone without giving up an offensive touchdown. Tuttle has played 12 games this season, and the last offensive touchdown against Tuttle came in the first quarter of the team’s eighth game.
Along with crediting the defensive staff, Ballard said a key for the defense is a lack of selfishness.
“They’re willing to play team defense,” Ballard said.
Entering the game, Ballard and the team did not take Wagoner lightly. They knew they were in for a challenge.
“We knew it was going be a dogfight,” Ballard said.
The Associated Press has Tuttle as the No. 1 team in Class 4A, and it has Wagoner as the No. 6 in the class.
Ballard was extremely pleased with how the entire evening went.
“I’m kind of reeling right now,” he said. “That’s something you wish every high school kid had a chance to experience.”
The Tigers now have a bigger task at hand in this week’s semifinal clash against the Poteau Pirates.
“The games only get bigger,” Ballard said. “We’ll be ready to play.”
The Associated Press has Poteau as the No. 2 team in 4A. Tuttle owns a 12-0 record this season, and Poteau has an 11-1 record.
The two teams will play Friday at Jenks.