Bishop McGuinness is a familiar sight for opponents come high school football playoff time and this season is no different. The Fighting Irish are in the postseason once again and they’re set on making another run at a gold ball.
A state championship may have seemed like a distant dream back in September when the Irish lost their season opener to Del City, 20-17. Sometimes it takes a loss to get a team on the right track.
“We had opportunities to win that game, but I think it kind of started the season with a little motivation for our group,” said second-year head coach Bryan Pierce. “I think they really buckled down at that time and started to really study the game plans and just work to get better each week.”
McGuinness avenged the loss by reeling off six straight wins by an average margin of 40 points per game.
“In the middle of the season I think we really hit our stride,” claimed Pierce. “We played several of our games where we had an opportunity to get a lot of young players in by the second half.”
The regular season ended the same way it began, however. This time it was a humbling 40-0 loss to traditional power Carl Albert. Again, the loss appears to have been a well-timed wake-up call for the Irish.
“No excuses, they got after us pretty good,” said Pierce, “but I think we bounced back pretty well in the first round and got our confidence back moving forward with our team.”
McGuinness proved Pierce right by handling Ardmore, 46-14, in the first round of the playoffs.
“Our kids are driven,” Pierce stated on the team’s pursuit of a state title. “Each season the expectation for our program is for our team to make it to the playoffs and to make a deep run. Our kids have experience making a playoff run and we continue to work through practices and preparing this time of the season.”
Quarterback Luke Tarman has been a steady influence for McGuinness. The junior has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns and added another 950 yards and nine TDs on the ground. He showed some versatility late in the season by moving to tailback due to an injury to senior tailback and TCU commit Dominic Richardson.
Richardson has run for 1,165 yards and 13 touchdowns despite missing the last two regular season games. He’s averaging an astounding 12.4 yards per carry and gives the Irish that home run threat to potentially score every time he touches the ball.
“It’s another level for our guys having him in our backfield,” remarked Pierce. “He has the opportunity at any point to make somebody miss and go all the way. For our offense, it definitely helps our confidence knowing he’s back there.”
While gaining Richardson back in its lineup, McGuinness lost a playmaker on the other side of the ball when senior linebacker and OU commit Brynden Walker went out with a knee injury in the first round of the playoffs. He is not scheduled to play in the quarterfinals and is questionable for the remainder of the season.
Tulsa Edison is the next challenger to take on Bishop McGuinness. The two teams square off on Friday, November 22nd, at 7pm in the Class 5A quarterfinals. This Ford Game of the Week will be broadcast live on YurView Cox Channel 3, and streamed online at Yurview.com.
Edison is enjoying a storybook season of its own. The Eagles are 10-1 on the year and are led by tailback and Nebraska commit Sevion Morrison. They recently won their first district championship since 1992 and a win over McGuinness would give them their first appearance in the semifinals since 1966.
“They have athletes all over the field,” admitted Pierce. “Their support players on offense can do some pretty impressive things as well. I think its just about us playing sound defense, lining up correctly and making sure we tackle well to try and contain their explosive offense.”
“We feel like we’re playing pretty good football right now,” added Pierce. “I think our guys have confidence going in to this playoff run and I think they’re excited about playing on Friday night.”