It is hard to forget the defensive clash that went down last season between the Altus Bulldogs and the Ardmore Tigers.
The game was being billed as a battle between two of the toughest defensive units in Class 5A football, and the ensuing game did not disappoint. As the two teams took the field and traded blows for nearly three hours, it was the Tigers who went on to earn a 13-7 victory over the Bulldogs — handing Altus its first loss of the season and giving Ardmore the confidence it needed to close out the season strong.
For the Bulldogs, it was just one loss but it was the beginning of a 3-3 finish to close out the season.
Altus struggled for much of the game, failing to score until there was just a little less than five minutes left in the game. An attempt to rally and take the lead over the Tigers stalled when Jake Vargas’ quarterback keeper fell just short of the first down marker — effectively ending the game.
It was a wake-up call for the previously unbeaten Bulldogs and it allowed them a rare chance to assess what went wrong and get it corrected.
Altus came back with a better gameplan and destroyed El Reno 60-17 before rolling over Southeast 42-0.
The Bulldogs fell again to Lawton MacArthur and then again against Carl Albert to end their season in the opening round of the playoffs, but this is a new season with an almost entirely new defense that has shut down opposing offenses all season. They also boast an offense that is fully capable of battling any team in Class 5A football with Vargas at the helm.
The Bulldogs are currently riding a five-game win streak to begin the season and Ardmore is sitting at 4-1 after losing to Carl Albert 28-12 in the third game of the season.
Both teams began this season in much the same way as they did one year ago with Altus rolling over each of its opponents and Ardmore losing only to Carl Albert.
This season, the Bulldogs are hungry after last year’s home loss to the Tigers. They want to go into Ardmore and disrupt the Tigers’ season by returning the favor.
“We are going to go out there and play physical,” Vargas said. “Our plan is to wear them out mentally and physically.”
The Bulldogs also know that they will need to take better care of the football if they are going to have any chance of slowing down Ardmore’s prolific offense. Fumbles have plagued the Bulldogs this season with the group losing four against Del City and two against Duncan.
“We’ve got to be mentally focused,” fullback Brenden Phillips said. “We also have to keep the ball off the ground.”
So far this season, the Bulldogs have scored 36.6 points per game — nearly three points more per game than last season at this point — and they are holding opposing offenses to just 14.8 points per game.
On the other side of the field is Ardmore, which is averaging 35.2 points per game on offense — seven less than last season at this point — and 16.2 points per game on defense — an increase of six.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Friday at Noble Stadium in Ardmore.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.