This week, high school football teams all across Oklahoma began the games that mattered; their district schedule. Things were no different in Kingston, as the Redskins hosted Davis to open district play. Although it proved a struggle, the Redskins came away with a 20-18 win over the hapless Wolves.
Kingston came into the game off a loss to the state champion Sperry Pirates, hoping to correct errors that have plagued the Redskins all season in the form of untimely penalties and turnovers. The winless Wolves hoped to start their district season off right, after a disastrous 2018 campaign which saw the perennial southern Oklahoma power miss the playoffs for the first time in decades.
Kingston started the game with the ball on its own 45, and junior quarterback Jase Hayes immediately completed a pass to senior receiver Tyler Blanchard to set the Redskins up on the Davis 38 after one play. The Redskins converted on a subsequent fourth down with another Hayes toss to Blanchard, this one for 16 yards to the Davis 19, and senior fullback Tanner Showalter took a handoff on the next play into the end zone for an apparent touchdown. However, a holding penalty cancelled Showalter’s run, and Kingston wound up turning the ball over on downs on the Davis 25.
Davis went three-and-out and looked like it was headed for disaster when sophomore punter Lathan Dickenson had the snap sail over his head into the end zone. Dickenson scrambled for the ball and got off an excellent punt that nevertheless gave Kingston great field position near midfield. Kingston’s ground game went to work, and Hayes finished off the drive with a 26-yard option run on fourth down to put Kingston up 7-0.
Davis looked to be in trouble on its next drive, which only lasted two plays despite a personal foul against Kingston for unnecessary roughness and gave the Wolves a first down on their first play. Two plays later junior quarterback Colin Dulaney was left chasing an errant snap over his head which junior linebacker Jesse Rose pounced on for the Redskins at the Davis 32. Kingston gave it right back two plays later, as Showalter lost the handle running up the middle and Davis recovered.
Davis promptly gave it back right after the end of the first quarter, as an errant Dulaney pass was picked off by Blanchard, whose return and an ensuing personal foul on Davis gave Kingston the ball back on the Davis
33. Kingston’s offense bogged down, and the Redskins turned it over on downs again at the Davis 17.
While Kingston’s offense struggled, the defense continued to shine. Even after an assist from yet another personal foul against Kingston, Davis wound up fumbling again on a handoff and junior Matthew Flesher recovered for the Redskins. Kingston continued to sputter in the face of the yellow laundry from the officials, as a fourth-down conversion run by Hayes to the Davis 20 was cancelled by yet another Kingston penalty - this time spearing - and Kingston turned the ball over on downs at the Davis 35.
Both offenses continued to sputter at the end of the first half. Davis blocked a Flesher punt, and took over on the Redskins’ 37, but lost 11 yards on the drive and punted away to Kingston to bring the half to an end with Kingston hanging onto a 7-0 lead.
Davis came out for the second half just as flat as before, going three and out and punting the ball to Kingston. Kingston’s first drive picked up a couple of first downs but eventually sputtered again, and Flesher lofted an outstanding punt, which rolled to the Davis 6, where it was touched by a Redskins player. While the Redskins assumed the ball was downed at that point, the referees did not blow the play dead, and an alert Davis player, senior Trey Parker, scooped up the live ball and scampered all the way to the Kingston 21, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on an enraged Kingston sideline moved the ball to the Kingston 6. After an offsides penalty on Kingston moved the ball to the Kingston 3, Davis’ 6’3”, 285-pound senior fullback Cooper Webb hammered in for the first Davis score. Rose blocked Davis’ attempt at an extra point, preserving a slim 7-6 lead for Kingston.
Kingston’s offense was galvanized by that disaster, marching 64 yards on 9 plays until Showalter rumbled in from 9 yards out to extend the lead to 13-6 as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter featured a Davis drive ended by Kingston’s senior defensive lineman Caleb Yeager tackling Davis’ Dickenson for a one-yard loss on third down. But then disaster struck Kingston again.
Dickenson’s fourth-down punt was fielded by Kingston junior Colton Robinson, who could only return the kick to his own 10. More laundry came Kingston’s way in the form of a block in the back penalty, and Kingston was backed up to its own 2 to start the drive. A fumbled snap backed up Kingston inside its own 1, and Flesher was forced to punt from his own end zone into a stiff wind. Flesher’s kick, caught by the wind, went out of bounds at the Kingston
2. Webb plowed back into the end zone for another score, but this time Rose pressured Dulaney on his pass attempt for the two-point conversion forcing an incomplete pass, once again preserving a slim lead for Kingston at 13-12.
Kingston’s next drive stalled after three plays at the Kingston
46. On fourth-and-one, Flesher was sent out again to punt. This time, however, the rugby-style punter never kicked the ball, and just kept running up the right sideline to the Davis 38. Showalter then burst free on the next play up the middle for another touchdown, and the extra point gave Kingston a 20-12 lead with just under five minutes left.
Backs to the wall, the Wolves finally put together a good drive. Helped out by a pass interference and a horse collar penalty, Davis drove into Kingston territory, but a sack on third-and-fifteen by Flesher and junior Jakey Williams gave Davis a fourth-and-twenty from the Kingston 39. Dulaney then made the play of the game for Davis, hitting junior wideout Kolton McGaha at the Kingston 5 for a first down. Three handoffs to Webb put Davis in the endzone down 20-18 with 37 seconds left, but Blanchard deflected Dulaney’s pass for an attempted two-point conversion to save the game for Kingston. Even though Davis recovered the ensuing onside kick, the Wolves proved unable to move the football, and Kingston breathed a sigh of relief with the 20-18 victory.
Kingston signal-caller Hayes had his best game of the season, completing 6 of his 11 passes for 65 yards, adding 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground with 10 carries; most significantly, Hayes avoided turning the ball over for the first time this season. Showalter led the Redskins in rushing, with 106 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Blanchard led all receivers with 45 yards on three catches. Junior linebackers Bryant Watts and Rose each had eight sacks, and Rose, who seemingly spent the entire night in the Davis backfield, also had two sacks and two tackles for loss and a blocked extra point.
Kingston head coach Tommy Bare was pleased to start off the season with a district win, proud of an Aoutstanding defensive performance. Untimely mistakes on offense and special teams’ issues led to a closer game than it should have been. Coach Bare noted that his team needs to continue to work on taking care of the Kingston Redskins in all areas of the game.
Kingston (1-0 district, 3-1 overall) travels next week to Tishomingo to face the winless (0-1, 0-3) Indians next Friday night. Tishomingo comes into the game off a 49-0 drubbing by Lindsay to start off district play. Kickoff at Tishomingo is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
If you thought there were a lot of yellow flags thrown against the Redskins Friday night, you were absolutely right. The refs stayed busy, and their efforts yielded a staggering twenty accepted penalties, sixteen of which were against Kingston for 160 yards. The laundry parade kept Davis in the game, stymying Kingston drives and extending Davis possessions all night.
One of the most controversial plays of the game was the Davis punt return on the apparently downed punt in the third quarter. On that play at least, the zebras got it right. Kingston touched the ball, but did not control it, and so the refs correctly did not blow the whistle. In that situation, Davis could return the punt and either accept the results of the play or get the ball back where it was touched, even if they turned it over on the play. Essentially, there was no possible downside for Davis in picking up the ball and trying to do something with it, and the Wolves deserve credit for alertness in taking advantage of this rare opportunity. As for the refs, while there was a lot to dislike about the way the game was officiated, and despite the howls of protest from the Kingston sideline and stands, they deserve credit for making the right call here.
Despite the flags, the Kingston defense put on a clinic. Davis’ offense managed a total of 11 net yards on the night, with minus 16 yards on the ground on 34 carries crippling their run-based attack. Until Dulaney’s fourth-down prayer was answered late in the game, Davis was negative in total offense. Time after time, Kingston’s defense would make plays to preserve the lead and ultimately save the game for the Redskins.
That being said, these are not your dad’s (or even your older brother’s) Davis Wolves. Second-year head coach Greg Parker eschewed the Wolves’ traditional wishbone to start the game, opening up with a double-wing formation. The wishbone reappeared late in the first quarter, and Davis switched between the two formations for much of the game. Davis was largely unable to run or pass from either formation, and the Wolves need to find answers quickly. It certainly appears that the days of Davis’ dominance with the triple option are over.