By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
There’s only one thing missing from the resume of Pond Creek-Hunter’s senior class of 2013, which will be making its fourth straight playoff appearance when the Panthers host Paoli at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
A postseason win.
The Panthers’ seniors have an impressive 31-12 career record, but have playoff losses to Davenport, 56-8; Fox, 66-44 and Ryan, 48-46, all on the road.
“We weren’t any slouches, that’s for sure,’’ said Panthers coach David Kerr. “I don’t know if it was because they were good or we didn’t play well, but it’s sure an advantage coming in as a second-place team.’’
Kerr doesn’t see the past playoff history as a negative.
“Every team has its own personality,’’ Kerr said. “I don’t think what happened the last two or three years will affect these guys. It might make them more determined to get past the first round, but it (the past) has no barring what will happen this year. Our square focus is making it to the second round.’’
Pond Creek-Hunter dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 in the Class B rankings after falling to No. 1 Laverne, 36-18. A trip to the state finals is a legitimate goal.
“I definitely think we’re one of the top three or four teams in the state,’’ Kerr said. “We have a chance to compete for the title. In past years, I don’t know if we were one of the top three or four teams.
“This is a good group of seniors. We want to win for those guys. It’s not like we’re not going to be good next year. But this is the last shot for the seniors. There’s always a sense of urgency for them when you get to the playoffs.’’
Kerr said the home field is a “big advantage’’ in the first round of the playoffs, especially when the opponents don’t know each other that well as in the case of Pond Creek-Hunter and Paoli.
The two teams have not played during Kerr’s 14-year tenure.
“I think we’re going to have a huge crowd,’’ Kerr said. “Last Friday was the most people we have had at a home game in a long time. It was a big time atmosphere.’’
Kerr said the excitement around town is “getting to the point’’ where it was in 2001-02 when Pond Creek-Hunter won back-to-back state titles.
“Of course, we always have had good support,’’ he said.
The Panthers have had good practices this week and have not had a “hangover’’ from the Laverne loss.
“We know if we take care of business, we could get another shot at Laverne in the finals,’’ Kerr said. “We have forgotten about that loss and we’re just focusing on Paoli.’’
Paoli, the third-place team in District B-2, is 6-4. The Pugs averaged 38.1 points per game, but allowed 37.2.
“It’s a good matchup for us,’’ Kerr said. “It’s hard to compare personnel on film with teams that you don’t know much about.’’
The Pugs have two 1,000-yard backs in Aaron Webster (138 carries for 1,326 yards and 17 touchdowns) and Josiah Gibson (146 carries for 1,370 yards and 20 TDs). Quarterback D.J. Moore has thrown for 818 yards and nine touchdowns.
Paoli’s losses were to Thackerville, 48-20; Alex, 58-22; Fox, 70-24; and Oklahoma Christian Academy, 34-0.
Pond Creek-Hunter is led by Brady Krittenbrink, who has rushed for 1,800 yards and 27 touchdowns and has 103 tackles on defense.
Quarterback Josh Irvin has completed 58 of 96 passes for 1,029 yards and 12 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Pond Creek-Hunter was without two starting interior linemen against Laverne — senior guard Kyle Kitchen (knee) and center Karson Marsh (shoulder).
There’s a “slight chance’’ Kitchen could play Friday. Marsh is definitely out.
Russell Wire and Michael Czapansky, who started in place of Kitchen and Marsh, both played well, Kerr said.
The Pond Creek-Hunter/Paoli winner will play the Welch at Wetumka winner next week.
PAOLI at PC-HUNTER
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Records: Paoli 6-4, Pond Creek-Hunter 9-1