This may just a little bit out of our normal coverage range but, until my own kids reached junior high I was known to take in a random playoff game, if Booneville wasn’t on the field of course. It’s easier to watch a win-or-go-home affair when you’re not fully vested in one team on the field.
I didn’t have that problem Friday.
While the wife went to school in Magazine most of her life and considers it home for the most part, since she actually graduated from Afton High School in Oklahoma she, and by that I mean we – my social media accounts are littered with Afton affiliates – have an affinity for that orange and black Eagle.
Through multiple class reunions and other interactions with her Class of 1983 I have been kind of adopted by the class and, to some degree, the town. Consequently, at any point in a season, either of us can generally tell you how the Eagles are doing.
That’s just in case something opens up and we are able to take in a game and the wife is able to reconnect with classmates in person – it’s an extremely close-knit class – and I can see the folks I know, like Kim Johnson Friday night. One of Kim’s twin sons is Pistol Pete at Oklahoma State.
Before Friday that last time it happened for a football game was in 2012 when Kim’s sons were senior leaders. Booneville had a bye and Magazine missed the playoffs, so we made the three and a half hour trek to the northeast corner of the Sooner state to see the Eagles take on Hominy.
After having witnessed Friday’s 23-20 win over Minco I would love to be in attendance when that same pairing hits the field in Owasso this Friday night for the Class A semifinal round.
As the score indicates it was a dandy football game, complete with enough nervous moments to remind me what I love about high school football.
The later in the game, the more tense the situation, of course, and there were two fourth quarter, fourth down plays in particular that decided the game.
First, Afton was up 23-20 but Minco had driven to the Afton 11 and it looked like the Eagles were falling apart, helping the Bulldogs out with a personal foul penalty to move the ball inside the red zone.
But, with 8:43 to go Trenton Gains made a tackle for a 5-yard loss, and by the time fourth down rolled around Minco needed 5 yards to move the chains or 6 to score. They got 3 with Kyle Corley making a big stop with 6:16 to play.
Three first downs and three plays later the Eagles were at the Minco 48 facing fourth-and-1. The guy setting beside me said he would punt. I said this is one time I wouldn’t, with 1:33 to go, a first down ends the football game.
Out of a Minco time out, Afton went heavy with Zach Henry coming in to play fullback. Everyone in the stadium expected quarterback Wil Amos to follow the little battering ram Henry into whatever hole he could create. Instead, after the middle collapsed, Amos slid to his left and went for 37 yards and a semifinal clinching first down.
The wife said good-bye to a few classmates and the significant others, like I said, close-knit, and we headed home.
Having Friday’s game fall on Thanksgiving weekend helped, of course, because the band child’s only responsibilities during the holiday week was to work the concession stand and the hoop player had only the Monday night game.
The Eagles got to the quarterfinals having beaten Warner 83-0 in the opening round and then easing by Cashion the previous Friday, 32-30. The wife and I “watched” that game through Twitter updates, fearing a trip that night could jeopardize a noon start of a basketball game for the youngest on Saturday.
I can’t watch a game, apparently, without recording stats so before we embarked on the trip Friday I created a team, put in rosters, and created a game so I can tell you Amos took over the football game late in the first quarter. He ran for 259 and threw for 69 more.
Amos scored on the final play of the opening quarter on a run of 41 yards but Gabe Mustain – yes same spelling of the Springdale player from a few years back who was once referred to as royalty concerning interceptions – missed the extra point.
Minco tied it on a 28-yard touchdown run by Tucker Halstead and Minco’s Shannon Williams, wearing a 22, misfired on a two-point conversion pass and it was tied at 6.
Henry, who wore a 51, had made his first backfield appearance two possessions later, and scored from the 1 to make it 12-6.
Afton got the ball back with 1:13 to go in the half and Amos hit Brett Hollon for 41 yards to set up Mustain for a 27-yard field goal try that he hit to make it 15-6, providing the eventual difference.
Out of the break Minco forced Afton to punt then scored on a 1-yard Williams run and it was 15-12.
Afton answered, but a holding penalty took away a 37-yard Amos touchdown and when it was fourth-and-16 from the Minco 43, Eagle head coach Zach Gardner called on Amos to use his arm.
I thought Gardner had lost his mind, and when Williams picked off the pass I thought it was as good as a punt, until Williams went 75 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. With the extra two it was 20-15.
Afton answered with Kyle Corley scoring from the 2 after Gunner Hudson ran for 26 yards on the ensuing drive. Amos added the extra two for the field goal cushion with 1:53 left in the quarter and setting up a final quarter in which both teams had the ball just once.