Fall weather continues in southern Oklahoma, and so does the high school football season, as the Kingston Redskins went on the road to Lone Grove to face the Longhorns Friday night, on a clear, crisp fall evening. Both teams’ fans turned out in droves to see this anticipated early-season matchup between two teams that looked to be fighting for supremacy in District 3A-2. The Redskins were undefeated, coming off their 49-14 shellacking of preseason favorite Plainview. Meanwhile, the Longhorns were 3-1, their only loss a 21-19 heartbreaker to 4A Tecumseh, but having opened district play the week before with a 47-7 blowout win over Pauls Valley. The Longhorns gave Kingston its toughest test yet, but ultimately the Redskins prevailed, extending their spotless record with a 28-8 victory.
The game started out according to plan for the Redskins. A heavy dose of power running, headlined by junior running back Brandon Watson, interspersed with a couple of passes by senior quarterback Jase Hayes to two different wideouts, junior Hayden McKinney, and senior Jarron
“Boomer” Morgan, who took the ball into the red zone. Watson finished off the 11-play, 6-minute drive with an 11-yard touchdown run, and Kingston led 7-0 in the first quarter.
The Longhorns worked on a response, featuring a nohuddle, spread attack. The Redskins initially looked to have it stopped early, with senior linebacker Bryant Watts nailing senior quarterback Jace Brandenburg in the backfield on third down for a big loss. However, that great play was erased by the first of a series of untimely penalties by the Redskins, who were flagged for a 15-yard facemask apparently away from the play, and the drive was extended. Lone Grove moved the ball down to the Kingston 23, but on fourthand-nine Brandenburg’s pass to senior Gavin Peery was badly overthrown and fell incomplete, and Kingston took over on downs.
Kingston went back to work, but the parade of untimely flags continued, with another personal foul facemask - this one also away from the play, and apparently ahead of it - erased a 21-yard run by Watson. Another Watson run was erased by a holding penalty, and on third-and-22 Hayes was chased out of bounds for a 13- yard sack by blitzing freshman defensive back Brody Harris, and Kingston was forced to punt.
Kingston’s defense rose to the occasion, taking control of the game. The Redskins, even hampered by an offsides penalty on third down, forced an incomplete pass to end the drive - nearly intercepted by “Boomer” Morgan - and Kingston got the ball back at its own 44.
The Redskins brought out their other hammer, senior running back A.J. McKinney, and pounded some more on the Lone Grove defense. With just enough passing to keep the Longhorns honest, Kingston drove all the way to the Lone Grove 6, where the Redskins had first-and-goal. However, Hayes could not handle the snap from junior center Zach McQueary - playing due to senior starter Jakey Williams’ suspension over his ejection the prior week - and Lone Grove senior Connor King recovered the fumble to end the promising drive.
Both defenses - Lone Grove’s defense was assisted by even more flags against the Redskins on their final drive of the half - held for the final three minutes of the half, and Kingston went into its locker room clinging to a 7-0 lead.
Lone Grove came out of the half looking to make their opening drive count. Picking up a quick first down on a run by senior Cooper Robinson, the Longhorns moved the ball to midfield, where they faced fourth-and-three. Junior defensive lineman Brycen Ellison knifed through the defense and sacked Brandenburg for a seven-yard loss, and the Redskins were in business at the Lone Grove 43. Just over a minute - and three Watson runs - later, the Redskins extended their lead to 14-0, as Watson ran twenty yards off right tackle for the score.
Lone Grove’s offense continued to stall, going threeand-out and punting on fourth down. However, returner “Boomer” Morgan never could get the handle on the ball, and Peery fell on the loose ball at the Kingston 48 to give the Longhorns another shot. However, a mishandled snap for Lone Grove - striking an in-motion sophomore running back Cale McLean on its way back to Brandenburg, resulting in an impromptu Wildcattype run by Cooper Robinson for no gain, put the Longhorns in a fourth-and-ten hole three plays later. With pressure applied by Kingston senior linebacker Matthew Flesher, Brandenburg into a desperate dumpoff pass to McLean, and A.J. McKinney tackled him immediately to force yet another turnover on downs.
Back on offense, Watson began hammering at the Lone Grove defense. Six carries for the junior covered the entire 48 yards, and Watson took a pitch 11 yards into the end zone to give Kingston a 20-0 lead late in the third quarter. Lone Grove’s Robinson muffed the ensuing punt, and Kingston took over at the Longhorn 20 as sophomore Klete Finley recovered the ball for the Redskins. The Longhorns finally found a way to stop Watson just short of the goal line on fourth-andgoal, and the Longhorns took over on downs inside their own one yard line late in the third quarter.
Desperate for points and backed up against its own goal line, the Lone Grove offense finally showed signs of life. Brandenburg scrambled for 20 yards to give the Longhorns some breathing room out to the 25 at the end of the third quarter. Brandenburg completed a screen to Peery on fourth down to move the ball to midfield early in the fourth quarter, but then the drive stalled again. After senior Matthew Hawkins threw Brandenburg for a loss on a quarterback keeper on third down, the Longhorns had one final chance to make a game of it with a fourth-down conversion. A quick screen pass to Robinson went nowhere, and when Hayes came in and stripped the ball loose for A.J. McKinney to recover, the Longhorn threat was over.
Kingston took over at the Lone Grove 48, and three runs by Watson and Flesher drove the ball to the Longhorn 3. Hayes finished the drive against the exhausted Lone Grove defense, taking a quarterback keeper into the end zone. A two-point conversion pass from Hayes to Hawkins made it a 28-0 Kingston lead.
Lone Grove finally put together a successful drive, with a big return by senior Malik Brown giving the Longhorns great field position at their own 45. Nine plays later, Brandenburg put the Longhorns on the board with a one-yard touchdown, and a two-point conversion trimmed Kingston’s lead to 28-8 with four minutes left.
After Hayes recovered Lone Grove’s attempted onside kick, Kingston ran out all but the final 19 seconds, turning the ball over on downs at the Lone Grove 10. Lone Grove tried to get something on a last-minute drive, but Ellisor ended the game with a sack, and the Kingston faithful began celebrating a hard-fought 28-8 victory.
Hayes led all passers, completing six of his nine passes for 88 yards, and adding a rushing touchdown. Watson converted his 25 carries into 218 yards and three touchdowns; Watson’s 218 yards were more rushing yards than the rest of the Redskins and the Longhorns combined. Hayden McKinney was Kingston’s leading receiver, with two catches for 30 yards. Watts led Kingston with 14 tackles, while Ellison had two of Kingston’s four sacks on the night. Overall, Kingston registered 401 yards of offense while only surrendering 153.
Kingston Head Coach Tommy Bare was pleased with “a road district victory.” He was especially pleased with his offensive line, and the way they allowed Watson to hammer the Lone Grove defense. His other units were “solid,” and he said “the effort was there but too many mental mistakes” referring to the penalties. Coach Bare fell back on what he called an “old saying in the coaching world - would rather win ugly than lose pretty” which he said “reflects the outcome of the game.”
With the high school in distance learning mode due to student COVID-19 tests this past week, Kingston (2-0 in district, 5-0 overall) will still play Little Axe (0-2, 0-4) this Friday night. However, while the schedule showed this week as Homecoming, because of problems assembling floats and the Pride of Texomaland being completely sidelined, those festivities have now been scheduled for the game against Pauls Valley (1-1, 3-2) on October 23. Kickoff against Little Axe is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Friday night at Harold “Bulldog” Henry Field.
The District 3A-2 race is starting to take shape. Sulphur (2-0, 3-2) ruined Homecoming for Madill (1-1, 2-3) with a 55-6 blowout. Plainview (1-1, 1-4) rebounded from its loss at Kingston with a 48-7 victory over Dickson (0-2, 0-5), which apparently resulted in Dickson star quarterback junior Johnny Smith breaking a thumb, sidelining him indefinitely. Assuming form holds, Kingston’s Thursday night trip to Sulphur on October 15 could play a big role in deciding the district championship.
Refereeing is a tough business, and fans should spend more time appreciating the hard-working officials who make Friday night football possible. That being said, the zebras at Lone Grove had a rough night this past Friday. Two 15-yard facemask calls, that had to have been away from the play (they were not readily apparent in person, and are not visible on the ondemand webcast of the game) riled up the Kingston stands early, and perhaps the low point was an attempt to call pass interference on a plainlytipped Longhorn pass in the third quarter. The officials managed to reverse that call, and to give credit where credit was due, one of their most controversial calls turned out to be correct.
Late in the game, when Lone Grove finally scored to end the shutout, the Longhorns attempted to kick an extra point. Sophomore kicker Jaxon Lee missed the kick, but defenders collided with his holder, senior Cody McClennahan, resulting in a roughing the kicker penalty. While the Kingston fans were outraged, it turns out that ruling was correct. On a placekick, such as an extra point, the holder is protected from contact just like the kicker, and contact with him can be a roughing penalty. So, while there were some odd calls during the game, it is refreshing to see that they actually got that one right.
Kingston demonstrated some nice depth in last week’s matchup. With Williams, a longtime starter at center and defensive tackle, sidelined, the Redskins backups had to respond. In particular, junior lineman Zach Mc-Queary stepped in and did an outstanding job at center for Kingston. While the Redskins are undoubtedly ready for Williams to return to anchor their lines, it is good to know that his backups are ready to perform at the highest level in big games.