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Pioneers Open District At Midwest City
Entering Friday's game at Midwest City, Stillwater is unique in one aspect.

The Pioneers are the only team in Oklahoma's Class 6A to open district play this week. Every other 6A team opened district play last week.

Friday's Stillwater opponent, Midwest City, opened against Lawton Eisenhower on the road and won 41-8. The Bombers are 3-1, losing to Booker T. Washington to open the season.

But, the Pioneers are off of their first win, a 49-6 win against U.S. Grant on Homecoming night. Coach Tucker Barnard said that familiarity could be a factor Friday.

"We feel like we know a lot about them," Barnard said. "You know, we've played them four years in a row."

One similarity between the Bombers and Pioneers is youth. Both teams replaced most, if not all, of its offense and a large portion of its defense.

Before Stillwater's game against Grant, Barnard said that youth can't be an excuse anymore. Now the injury bug is in Stillwater, though, with Jaden McCune likely to be out again Friday with an injury to his right hip.

Regardless, playoff seeding is based on district records, which gives Barnard a different perspective in spite of the Pioneers' 1-3 record.

"We've been talking about that for several weeks, now," Barnard said. "Do we want to be 3-0 and start the season that way? Absolutely. But, in the end, it doesn't have any affect on our playoff life and now every week is a must win."

The Bombers averaged 32 points in each of their first four games while surrendering an average of less than 18. Meanwhile, Stillwater has averaged only 21 and surrendered an average of 26.

That underdog role is all too familiar to Barnard at this point.

"Honestly, I'd rather be favored every week," Barnard said. "But the underdog role is fine. It doesn't really matter to me. We're going to do what we do and take care of business."

One advantage the Pioneers have according to defensive lineman Kameron Linsenmeyer, is extra prep time. Stillwater used the Grant week to prep for Midwest City too and still shut out Grant, whose points came on a Jace Brownlee interception returned for a touchdown.

One thing Linsenmeyer noticed in Midwest City's film is a weak offensive line.

"They're soft and our defensive line, we're pretty physical," Linsenmeyer said. "We're just going to go out and kick their butt on the run and pass and pressure them and make them do things they don't want to do."
10-2-15 by Kurtis Quillin