YUKON — Broken Arrow coach David Alexander stood over his team and jokingly gave them Friday off from school — already a day off on the academic calendar. But then, he gave the Tigers the weekend off to a loud, collective cheer.
They certainly earned it after Thursday night’s 56-3 domination of Yukon.
Even without standout linebacker Zach Marcheselli, the defense created short fields for the offense and points for themselves. The growing culture around the Tigers’ defense allowed a season low in points and has allowed just 27 points the past four weeks.
“The reason we’re playing so well is the culture that coach (Travis) Hill has on the defense right now,” Alexander said. “It’s a competition to see who can get to the ball first. … When you have a culture of playing fast and physical, good things happen for you.”
Broken Arrow (8-0, 5-0 6AI-1) forced four turnovers, including a Bryce Mattioda interception return for a touchdown.
It was his second in two weeks after he recovered a teammate’s fumble in the end zone last week.
The Tigers held Yukon (4-4, 1-4) to less than 100 yards of total offense through the first three quarters and just 129 total yards — all on the ground. They did it all without Marcheselli, who dressed and could have played but was held out with an ankle injury as a precaution.
“It means we’re getting better,” said Mattioda, who had two interceptions Thursday. “That’s all you need. Improvement every week is going to be the key for us.”
The Broken Arrow offense took advantage of its stout defense. Noah Cortes rushed for four touchdowns and 194 yards, putting him just 189 rushing yards from the all-time rushing record. The Tigers had a trio of one-play drives, including touchdown runs by Cortes on the first play of each half and a 46-yard touchdown run by quarterback Quentevin Cherry, who had 99 yards and averaged 16.5 yards per carry.
In the process, Broken Arrow won its eighth straight game and can clinch the district title with a victory next week against Edmond Memorial.
“We have to come out here every game and get better and get ready for the playoffs,” senior linebacker Gavin Potter said.
Potter was key in stabilizing Yukon’s triple option offense as the primary defender for Millers quarterback Jackson Young, who finished with negative-29 yards, three interceptions and a lost fumble.
Defensive back Myles Slusher also added an interception against Yukon, which has lost three straight but already matched its best season since 2013 – the last time the Millers made the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Broken Arrow is rolling towards the playoffs with just two winless district teams in their way.
“It’s like the whole team is coming together as a whole unit,” Potter said. “… We all play as a team. When we all play as a team, it’s hard to do anything on us.”