The 2020 Kingston Redskins opened their football season with a trip to Idabel to face the Warriors. Newly promoted to Class 3A, the Redskins faced questions about whether they could repeat their success in Class 2A, having won their last two district titles and advancing all the way to the 2A state semifinals last year, ending the 2019 season 12-2. Idabel’s previous year in Class 3A had ended 6-5 with a first-round playoff loss, but the Warriors, newly moved to Class 2A for 2020, had started off this campaign with a 28-6 win over Foreman, Arkansas. On a hot, muggy, largely windless night in Idabel, the Redskins humbled the Warriors with a 34-12 victory.
Kingston started off the season the right way on its first drive. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Redskins’ fourth play from scrimmage saw senior running back Matthew Flesher burst through the middle for a 46-yard touchdown to give Kingston an early 7-0 lead.
Kingston=s defense had also come to play as well. Three plays into Idabel’s first drive, Warrior senior Chris Thompson caught a screen pass, only to be stripped by Kingston senior linebacker Bryant Watts, and senior defensive lineman Jesse Rose recovered the fumble for the Redskins. Kingston’s offense went back to work at the Idabel 42, and senior quarterback Jase Hayes topped off the drive with a oneyard sneak for a touchdown to put the Redskins up 13-0 in the first quarter.
Idabel moved the ball its next drive, but after several third-down conversions, Rose blew up the drive, tackling senior running back Francisco Corona in the backfield on first down for a five-yard loss, then ending the drive with a 12-yard sack of senior quarterback Jalen Ellis on third down. The teams would then exchange punts in the second quarter, but when Idabel failed on a fourth-down conversion at the Kingston 41, the Redskins went back to work.
Less than two minutes into the next Kingston drive, Flesher took his third handoff 22 yards for his second touchdown of the game, putting the Redskins up 20-0. Idabel’s attempt at a final drive in the first half ended in another Rose sack as the quarter ended, and Kingston went into halftime up 20-0.
In the third quarter, the heat and humidity clearly took their toll, as several players were sidelined with cramps and both teams incurred multiple penalties. The sole score of the quarter capped off an 82-yard drive by the Redskins, during which Hayes had left with cramps, but came in for another quarterback sneak to make it 27-0 at the end of the third.
Down four scores, Idabel’s offense finally came to life. The first play of the fourth quarter saw Ellis hit on a long pass to senior wideout Jakavian Matthew, who jitterbugged his way into the endzone for a 64-yard score to end the shutout, trimming the lead to 27-6. After Kingston’s offense stalled and turned the ball over on downs, Idabel drove 60 yards on the Warriors’ next drive, and Matthew caught a second touchdown pass - this one for 13 yards- that Watts nearly intercepted, and the lead was down to 27-12 with seven minutes remaining.
With the lead down to two scores, Kingston recovered Idabel’s unsuccessful onside kick and went back to work. The Redskins drove 66 yards, with Flesher toting the rock for another long gain, and then junior running back Brandon Watson hammered the Warriors into submission, eventually taking a pitch six yards into paydirt to extend the lead out to 34-12. Idabel’s final drive ended in a punt, and then the reserves brought home the 34-12 victory for the Redskins to start their season 1-0.
Hayes started his senior campaign at quarterback completing four of his nine passes for 54 yards for no scores, although he did score twice on quarterback sneaks. Flesher led Kingston in rushing with 121 yards on just six carries for two touchdowns, and Watson had 90 yards on 14 carries and a score. Junior Hayden McKinney was the only receiver with more than a single reception, catching two passes for 22 yards to lead the Redskins. On defense, Watts and Rose tied for the team lead with 10 tackles each, with Rose adding three sacks and Watts picking off a pass.
Kingston Head Coach Tommy Bare felt that the win was a “good road victory,” especially since the team “came out of it healthy.” He was pleased with the way his offense succeeded on the ground for 7.81 yards per carry, and the way his defense shut down Idabel’s running game, which he noted was their game plan. Moving forward, the Redskins “have to shore up pass coverage and eliminate penalties,” and they are “looking forward to putting in work this week to make the Redskins better.”
The Redskins, at 1-0, will play their home opener on Friday, September 11, against 2A Hugo. The Buffaloes bookended their season with two losses at Kingston in 2019, and enter the game with 1-1 record, with a season-opening win over Dickson, but then losing 30- 14 to Checotah Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 at Harold “Bulldog” Henry Field.
Anyone who wonders why voters approve bond issues for school facilities needs look no further than the Idabel football field. The facility has plainly needed an update for years, and features grassgrown parking areas (that drain poorly), bad lighting and a track in embarrassing condition. Overall, it really makes you appreciate the ongoing upgrades at Kingston’s facilities. As a parent of multiple Kingston students, this writer personally appreciates every single vote in favor of the bond issues that make sure our students have first-class educational and athletic facilities. Also, to be commended are the staff members who spend innumerable hours to make visits to our campus a pleasant experience. You don’t know what you’ve got until you visit someone who doesn’t have it.
Coach Bare continued to show off his willingness to take risks on fourth down that would make other, more conservative coaches shudder. In the middle of the first quarter, leading 13-0, Bare dialed up a fake punt from his own 28, as sophomore backup quarterback Klete Finley threw a pass to McKinney to convert a fourth-and-two. The drive ultimately fizzled and ended with a punt, but that sort of aggressiveness will yield additional downs - and points - for the Redskins in future games this year.
In keeping with the theme of this COVID-19 infested year, one change has already occurred to the schedule. In their final non-district game, the Redskins will host the Tishomingo Indians on Thursday, September 17, instead of the now-quarantined Broken Bow Savages. Coach Bare has stated that the season will be played out even if the Redskins are still playing in January, but fans should keep their fingers crossed that the season is not disrupted to that degree, much less what happened to spring sports earlier this year. As always in 2020, stay tuned for further developments.