Ponca City head football Coach Scott Harmon has been in his profession long enough that he can qualify as being labelled “a veteran.” And he says without reservation that the 2020 year has been a nightmare.
“Personally, it has been the toughest season that I’ve been through,” he said. “Those who know me know that I’m a schedule guy. Because of the COVID situation, it seemed as if we were having to adjust our schedules constantly.”
For one thing, there was no spring practice, because of Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association and Ponca City Public Schools guidelines. Summer activities were limited to each player working out at home on his own under routines suggested by the coaching staff. When practice was permitted in August, guidelines for conducting practices were in place. Once the season started, the Wildcats lost a game in Weeks 2 and 10 because of the opponent needing to quarantine as a team. The Week 2 lost game was to nondistrict opponent Ardmore and actually two opponents in Week 10 were lost. First Muskogee cancelled due to quarantining needs and then Catoosa. which was a last minute replacement, also cancelled. When Ponca City played in its first playoff game in 15 years, it was missing 29 players who were required to individually quarantine. So Harmon can be believed when he says 2020 season had its challenges.
But as it was the Ponca City Wildcats had a season that had its positive factors. For the second consecutive year, the Wildcats finished fifth in tough District 6AII-2 after having been the habitual district cellar dweller for a number of seasons. Ponca City had a 3-6 record, which may very well been 4-6 or 5-6 had it been able to play the lost games.
“Our defense did a good job all year,” Harmon said. “Our offense struggled at times. We started the year off with a young quarterback. We suffered injuries and had to work through that. But overall, I am very proud of our kids, proud of our staff for having as good a year as we did.”
Harmon points to the future with an optimistic attitude. “We should be in good shape next year. We will have a really good group of seniors and juniors and our younger kids will be good as well. I am excited about the future.”
The coach says that he and his coaching staff will work to help the team during the offseason.
“We will hit the offseason heard. We want to get better, stronger and faster,” he said. “Whatever we have to do to help the kids, we will do. We will see they get time in the weight room no matter how many sessions it will take to get everyone included. We want the offseason to be very productive.’
According to statistics provided by assistant coach Ben Steichen, the one responsible for keeping such things, Ponca City was outscored by opponents 244-109. The Wildcats strategy was to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible, grind out yardage to keep the opponents offensive unit off the field as much as possible. That shows up in number of plays run, in which Ponca City ran 477 plays during the season to the opponents’ 436. Ponca City had 1,227 yards rushing and 526 yards passing. The Wildcats also stress keeping turnovers at a minimum and they had 14 during the season, compared to 23 for the opposition. In terms of penalties, Ponca City was flagged 48 times for 417 yards while opponents had 97 penalties for 930 yards.
Cameron Jackson was the leading rusher for Ponca City. He carried the ball 198 times for 889 yards. Other double figure rushing statistics include Blake Bristow, 86 carries for 294 yards, Lane Scholey, 19 for 48; Elijah Phillips, 11 for 61; and Sam McKinney, 11 for 30.
Nate Harbeson was the leading passer, completing 25 of 51 passes for 268 yards. Grant Harmon, who played in only four games, completof 35 attempts for 146 yards. Aiden Wetzel competed 2 of 14 attempts for 53 yards; Tayvion Moore completed 2 of 7 attempts for 57 yards and Lane Scholey completed 1 of 2 attempts for 2 yards. Sam McKinney was the leading receiver with 19 receptions for 285 yards. Other receivers include Tristan Cunningham, 6 receptions for 91 yards; Blake Bristow, 6 for 32; Brett Haney, 3 for 59; Ayden Kreger 3 for 21; Tabron Stanton, 3 for 11; Luke Payne, 2 for 17 and Cameron Jackson, 1 for 10.
Devin Zimmerschied led the Wildcats in tackles, with 76, which includes 47 solo tackles and 29 assists. Close behind was Elijah Phillips who had 75 tackles, 40 solo and 35 assists. Other totals include Devon Killscrow, 65 tackles, 32 and 33; James Godfrey, 64 tackles, 32 and 32; Trey Seward, 53 tackles, 34 and 19; Gabe Roland, 53 tackles, 24 and 29; Tyson Dewberry, 44 tackles, 35 and 9; Nate Collins, 41 tackles, 22 and 19; Collier Lively, 37 tackles, 20 and 17; Carson Williams, 29 tackles, 20 and 9; Lane Scholey, 29 tackles, 13 and 16; Dolan Hargis, 28 tackles, 7 and 21; Spencer Ball, 25 tackles, 19 and 6; Antonio Perez, 20 tackles, 11 and 9; Jose Valencia, 17 tackles, 11 and 6; Rayden Agee, 15 tackles, 9 and 6; Tabron Stanton, 11 tackles, 4 and 7; Richard Bryce, 9 tackles, 6 and 3; Thomas Sober, 9 tackles, 4 and 5; Blake Bristow, 6 tackles, 4 and 2; Koby Wilson, 4 tackles, 2 and 2; Austin Barker, 3 tackles, 2 and 1; Mikah McBride, 2 tackles, 2 and 0; Lane Ramsey, 2 tackles, 0 and 2; Shayden Trant, 2 tackles, 0 and 2; and Jacksen Vogt, 1 tackle, 1 and 0.
Dewberry led in interceptions, with 6. Others with interceptions included Zimmershied, Phillips, Roland, Ball, Perez and Barker. Godfrey had 10 sacks to lead in that category. Seward had three. Others, with one each were Zimmerschied, Collins, Williams, Scholey and Stanton.
Godfrey had 14 tackles for a loss, Zimmerschied had 13, Phillips had 5; Seward had 7; Collins had 4; Dewberry had 2; Agee had 2; and Killscrow, Roland, Lively, Williams, Scholey, Stanton and McBride had one each.