Oklahoma high school football notebook: Mustang gets huge breakthrough win

By Buck Ringgold

Last Friday’s 47-41 win by Mustang at Owasso was more than just a family affair.

It was also a big breakthrough for the Broncos’ coach, Lee Blankenship, who for the first time bested his cousin, and coaching counterpart, the Rams’ Bill Blankenship. Not to mention, it was a big win for a 6A school on the west side of the state beating a prominent east side power.

“I’m just proud of our coaches and our kids,” Lee Blankenship said. “Any time a school from this side of the state of Oklahoma can go to that side of the state of Oklahoma in our classification and come back with a win is huge.

“For our kids to be able to go and get the win there at Owasso, I feel like it’s a building block and just a stepping stone for the future of our program. I believe so strongly that we’re going to build something special here at Mustang just for that reason, it’s a one high-school town over here on the west side of the state.”

The last three times Lee went up against his cousin, Bill’s teams posted convincing wins. But this time, Lee had a few new tricks up his sleeve.

On offense, the Broncos passed a lot on first down and even took a few deep shots.

“Offensively, we tried to use some different shifts and motions just to try to keep them from teeing off on us,” Lee Blankenship said. “Any time you play such a well-coached team like they are, their kids are going to know your tendencies and we just tried to keep them guessing a little bit. 

“We had a great scheme (on defense) that kind of confused their quarterback. … Our secondary did some really good things to try to confuse their quarterback and I think they threw five interceptions. Our defensive line, for the first year since I’ve been at Mustang, I felt like we just matched up with them up front and our defensive line played great all night long.”

Of those five picks thrown by the Rams, four landed in the hands of senior cornerback Karston Keene, as Owasso was trying to avoid throwing in the direction of the other cornerback, junior Jacobe Johnson, a highly recruited standout in both football and basketball.

“(Keene) just did exactly what he was coached to do all night; the moment wasn’t too big for him and when he got his opportunity to make plays, he certainly did,” Lee Blankenship said.

Johnson got the other interception, picking off a pass in the end zone to stop a late Owasso rally after the Rams entered the final quarter trailing 47-21.

On offense, Johnson caught eight passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 60 yards and another TD. Junior Keegan Bass, who plays both running back and receiver, had 195 all-purpose yards and TDs both rushing and receiving.

Last week’s win also put Mustang in prime position to get the No. 2 seed out of 6AII-2 and a first-round home playoff. The Broncos (5-3, 4-1) will play their final two regular-season games at home, starting Friday  against Putnam City.

Pryor’s commitment

It has been a solid season so far for Pryor. At 7-1, overall, the Tigers are off to their best start since 2011.

Friday, they can take another giant step by claiming at least a share of the 5A-4 title. But to do so, the Tigers must get by undefeated Collinsville.

The 5A-4 co-leading Tigers and Cardinals square off in Collinsville with the district title and the top playoff seed on the line.

“It should be a great football game,” Pryor coach Kenny Davis said. “Collinsville has a really good team with a lot of experience.

“(Cardinal coach Kevin) Jones always does a great job of getting his teams ready to play. I know our kids are excited for the opportunity to go play for a district championship.”

Pryor’s lone loss was to Grove, which is also undefeated. The Tigers began 5A-4 play with a 31-14 win against Tahlequah before narrowly edging Glenpool, 38-37.

Since then, the Tigers have posted three straight convincing wins, the latest a 36-21 win against Sapulpa last week.

“The season has been going well,” Davis said. “I’ve been proud of how this team has improved each week, and the exciting thing for us is that our best game is still out there.”

While the Cardinals possess several offensive standouts, the Tigers have a few of their own. Quarterback Brunk Gray has passed for approximately 1,900 yards and 18 touchdowns, including a three-TD 313-yard performance against Sapulpa.

Receiver Bobby Belew has caught 48 passes for 833 yards and nine TDs. The Tigers have also gotten a lift from running back Leo Lovins, who has rushed for at least 100 yards each of the past two ballgames.

Davis is also counting on his defensive line, which includes Nate Silky, Brayden Dill and Erick Caraveo, to do their part this week.

Outlaws’ dominance

Marlow is on the verge of going undefeated in the regular season for the second straight season. A year ago, the Outlaws had a perfect regular season and finished 11-1, falling to eventual 2A state champion Metro Christian in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of our starters last year were juniors and they’re seniors now; they’re a year older and a year more experienced,” Marlow coach Matt Weber said. “We’re bigger, stronger, faster because of the weight room, and then just making a deep playoff run last year, we came into this year with a lot of confidence.”

The Outlaws’ average margin of victory this season has been exactly 36 points, and they’ve scored 356 points while holding their foes to just 68 points.

Marlow is also getting a special teams boost in senior Jace Gilbert, a kicker and punter who has been receiving interest from several colleges. He has made all of his field goal attempts, and in last week’s 58-19 win against Marietta, hit a 52-yard field goal, a career high.

“It would have been good from 62,” Weber said. “There wasn’t a lot of wind, but it was actually into whatever wind there was. He split the uprights and he had plenty of room to spare.”

Gilbert has been just as prolific as the team’s quarterback. He has completed 81.4 percent of his passes, and has thrown more touchdowns (17) than incompletions (15).

Among Gilbert’s receiving threats are senior Will Bergner, who has 12 TDs and about 700 yards receiving, and tight end Kyle Wilson, a senior who leads the team in tackles from his linebacker position.

The Outlaws can claim the 2A-4 district title on Friday with a win at home against second-place Frederick (5-3, 4-1).

“They have a big quarterback (Adrian Gaytan) and receiver (Alford Cathey) that were sophomores last year that are now juniors and are kind of two go-to guys, so they’re a really talented football team and they’re coming into town this week on a really hot streak,” Weber said. “They’re really playing good and they’ve kind of got it going as of late.”

Separation in 3A

Three of the four 3A districts can be decided Friday night, with each of the district leaders playing pivotal contests.

In 3A-1, Heritage Hall leads with a 5-0 record, a game ahead of Perkins-Tryon and Kingfisher. Friday, the Chargers take on Kingfisher, and a win would give Heritage Hall the No. 1 playoff seed.

Sulphur leads 3A-2 with a 5-0 record, a game ahead of Plainview and Lone Grove, but the Bulldogs will end the regular season playing both of those squads.

The Bulldogs go to Plainview on Friday before returning home next week to face Lone Grove. A Sulphur win and a Lone Grove loss to Little Axe this week would clinch the No. 1 seed for the Bulldogs.

Then in 3A-4, undefeated Holland Hall is on top at 5-0, with three other teams (Verdigris, Berryhill and Vinita) each a game back. The Dutch play at Verdigris on Friday and a win would give the Dutch the top playoff seed because they’ve also defeated Berryhill and Vinita.

The other district leader in 3A, Lincoln Christian, appears to be in good shape at getting the top seed as the Bulldogs stand at 5-0.

But the Bulldogs, who are off this week, finish district play next week against Stigler, which comes in with a 3-1 record. Seminole, which handed Stigler its lone district defeat, is also at 3-1, but have already lost to Lincoln Christian.

This week, Stigler plays at home against Westville while Seminole is also at home, taking on Locust Grove.

Same venue, new name

For the third consecutive season, teams from Class A to 6A will be converging in Edmond in December to play for a state title.

While the venue remains the same, the University of Central Oklahoma’s stadium, it will have a brand-new name.

Last week, the former Wantland Stadium was officially renamed Chad Richison Stadium, named after a prominent UCO alum who is the founder and CEO of Paycom, an Oklahoma City-based company. Ironically, Paycom is the new sponsor name for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s arena.

Richison has made several donations to upgrade the athletic facilities at his alma mater in recent years.

There will also be several improvements made to the stadium going into 2022, including more seating, which would expand capacity to around 12,000. A new video board is in the works, as well as a landscaping feature at one end which will include boulders and a waterfall.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association has hosted the football title games at UCO since 2019, and the contract will run through at least the end of the 2022 football season.

These improvements being made to the stadium may help ensure Edmond will continue to be a long-term site for the state championship games.

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