Sunday, October 11, 2009

One great win for Poteau

During the 20-plus years I have covered sports, I have seen many good games, some great games and a bunch that were not very good.

There have been blowouts, overtime games and some that went down to the wire.

I was expecting a good game when Wagoner visited Poteau on Friday night. Both teams were ranked in the top 10 and had won their first two district games.

Many people expected Wagoner to take the game, even though Poteau’s closest game in an undefeated season was an eight-point win over Hilldale.

They figured Wagoner’s speed would be too much against a Poteau team that had not really faced a top-notch team.

That did not happen, of course. Wagoner was loaded with speed, but Poteau kept the Bulldogs’ speed under control for the most part.

On a cold and damp Friday evening before a huge crowd, Poteau’s defense blanketed Wagoner in the first half, allowing only three-yards rushing. The Pirates knocked out Wagoner’s starting quarterback on the second series with a leg injury.

He was starting because Wagoner’s first-team quarterback was nursing an injured ankle. More about that shortly.

Poteau had a couple of good opportunities in the first half, but came up empty. Wagoner never threatened against Poteau’s stubborn defense. In addition to knocking out the quarterback, two other Wagoner players were sent to the sidelines in the hard-hitting first half.

After the defensive struggle in the first half, more of the same was expected in the second half. Before the kickoff, Wagoner’s usual starting quarterback, Prince McJunkins was spotted on the Wagoner sideline, dressed out and warming up.

Poteau got the ball to start the second half. Suddenly, the Pirates came alive and marched quickly down the field, scoring on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Garrett Klutts to Britt Brown.

McJunkins entered the game for Wagoner and led the Bulldogs inside Poteau’s 10. The drive fizzled and a bad snap on a field goal forced a run that was gobbled up for a five-yard loss.

Poteau’s offense started to struggle as Wagoner’s offense continued to march up and down the field. The Bulldogs tied the game on their next drive, then took a touchdown lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Poteau was stopped again and after a short punt, Wagoner started driving again. This time, Poteau’s defense stopped the drive, giving the Pirates the ball on their 32 with 2:45 left.

The Pirates trailed 14-7 and were in trouble. But Poteau’s offense came alive again. Klutts completed three quick passes and moved to Wagoner’s 28. Klutts was sacked back to the 34 and the drive was in jeopardy.

Klutts then hit Brown on a slant pass for 16 yards down to Wagoner’s 18. It gave Poteau a first down and plenty of time to score.

The Pirates called a running play. Klutts faked an inside handoff from the shotgun, kept the ball and took off up the middle. It looked like the run would fail, at first. Wagoner’s defense was waiting, but Klutts lowered his head and broke through the line, running like a bulldozer.

He broke through the line, carried a couple of defenders with him and was not to be denied. Klutts made it past the goal line and as the officials raised their arms, Poteau’s side went nuts.

That brought on reliable kicker, Blake Williams, for the extra point. The kick would tie the game and the possibility of overtime was running through my mind.

On the extra point, the snap appeared to be good, but Brown had trouble. Brown rose up and started sprinting around the left side. Most of Wagoner’s defense was trapped in the middle and he had some running room. A Poteau blocker gave Brown a little time and he sprinted into the end zone for the two-point conversion, giving the Pirates a 15-14 lead.

Wagoner still had plenty of time and there were plenty of worried coaches, players and fans on Poteau’s side.

The Bulldogs had the ball on their 41 after a 12-yard kickoff return with only 1:39 left. McJunkins scrambled on first down, picking up seven yards. On second down, his pass was batted down and a pass on third down sailed high and incomplete.

The game came down to a fourth-and-four. McJunkins took the snap and tried to find some running room, but Seth Burgess and Zach Stubbs fought off blocks and stopped the Wagoner quarterback well short of the first-down marker.

Poteau’s defensive stand brought a roar from the crowd and the Pirates had the ball again. Wagoner exhausted its remaining time outs. Facing third-and-six, Klutts called his own number one last time. Again, his way was blocked by Wagoner players, but he bulled through the defense, picking up just enough yards to give Poteau a first down and everybody knew this one was over.

Klutts took the final snap, kneeled down and the victory was a reality. As the clock wound down, Poteau started celebrating the kind of win that can serve as a launching point to even a greater season than anybody could have expected prior to the season.

It was truly a great night for the Pirates and the expected good game turned into a great one.


  1. This was truly a great game. The one thing that keeps being left out of articles is that of the offensive line making a way for the offense to score. Klutts and Brown deserve their due, but would do NOTHING without their line opening holes.

  2. Dear Anoymous, that's true through the years. Offensive linemen rarely get publicized, but I think they just accept it and are recognized as the unknown heroes. - Jim Pat

  3. I do not agree. They are put in a position to accept being the "unknown heroes". I think that is a tradition that needs to end. The players who make the touchdowns and get all the "glory" couldn't do it alone. It is high time that we give these "unknown heroes" the recognition they deserve. After all it is team that wins or loses a game. Not one or two players.

  4. Brought to mind, when the Heavener Wolves beat Wagoner in the State Playoffs way back in 1961. I think the score of that game was 6-0.
    colin kelley

  5. Klutts was very overrated in this game and did nothing without his offensive line