Class 4A football: Poteau tops Weatherford, wins first state title in school history
EDMOND — Poteau coach Greg Werner admitted he was slightly unsure of sending his kicker out for a 23-yard field goal attempt, but his team needed points.
Jorge Martinez, a sophomore, had missed an extra point after Poteau's first touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Poteau again got inside Weatherford's 15-yard line. After not coming away with points the first two possessions, Werner knew he needed something.
Martinez drilled the field goal attempt with 11:18 left, giving Poteau the winning score in its 9-7 win against Weatherford on Friday in the Class 4A state championship game at UCO's Wantland Stadium. The title is Poteau's first in football.
"I felt like we had to get something," Werner said of attempting the field goal. "He's been money extra-point wise. That wasn't much more than an extra point."
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The field goal gave Poteau (13-1) a nine-point cushion, but then Weatherford's offense found its groove.
The Eagles only touchdown came late in the fourth quarter following an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Quarterback Jaxon Ratterree found Michael Mayfield in the right side of the end zone for a touchdown with 1:46 left.
Weatherford attempted an onside kick after its touchdown, but the ball failed to go 10 yards. Although Weatherford had two timeouts, Poteau secured a first down on its second play of the drive, allowing it run out the clock.
"This team has worked so hard from the beginning," senior Jayden Mankin said. "We all knew we had it in us to get this far. Just finishing, finishing. It's what we talked about constantly.
Mankin scored the Pirates' lone touchdown in the first quarter on a 2-yard run. He finished with 92 yards on 14 carries, pacing Poteau's rushing attack that ran 50 times for 229 yards.
Mankin's ability to find the edge on sweeps helped him have big runs on the touchdown drive. He had an 11-yard run and 26-yard scamper for first downs before his third carry of the drive was for a touchdown.
Poteau's defense was dominant. Senior defensive lineman Vaka Tuifua finished with two tackles, but he was constantly in the Weatherford backfield. The Eagles (11-3) weren't able to establish a strong rushing attack all game, finishing with 70 yards on 28 carries.
Ratterree completed 12 of 20 passes for 136 yards, but he had a costly interception on the opening drive of the second half. Jagger Dill, who nearly had two other picks, was able to intercept the deep post pattern and give the ball back to Poteau.
This was Werner's first season back in Poteau, which made winning the title even more special.
"I've been a head coach for 31 years, and no team I have ever been around deserved a state title more than this one," Werner said. "That is an unbelievable group of young men."