If the Broken Arrow Tigers make a run during the final month of the high school football regular season, they will likely look back at the second half of last week’s Enid game as the source of their success down the stretch.
The Tigers, 2-5 at the time and coming off a demoralizing 77-17 loss to top-ranked Bixby, trailed the Plainsmen 24-21 at halftime after trailing by two touchdowns early in the game. Broken Arrow came out of the locker room a different team. They made several key defensive plays, held Enid scoreless and scored 24 unanswered points to win the important district matchup, 45-24.
“That was a critical game,” admitted Tigers head coach Josh Blankenship. “At halftime we talked about playing more sound. We made a couple of adjustments and talked about tackling better. We shut them down on defense and did things on offense to separate from them. Our guys responded well. That was a huge game for us.”
Blankenship singled out the play of tailbacks Nate Jones (senior), Kaibre Harris (junior) and Kayden Jones (freshman) for the Tigers’ inspired second-half play on offense. The two-quarterback system of sophomore Owen Jones (three touchdowns) and junior Cooper Bates (one touchdown) was also extremely successful.
Defensively, Blankenship praised senior nose guard Demarius Reynolds and the senior Bates, who also saw significant time at safety for the Tigers.
“Outside of the Bixby game, we feel like we were on track in our improvement week to week,” said Blankenship, whose team is 3-2 since opening the season with three defeats. “The week before we played Bixby was our first complete game where every phase was clicking (a 31-3 win against Westmoore). We really felt like we could carry that progression into the Bixby game. We just got overwhelmed early and it didn’t happen.”
With just two district games remaining, it’s easy to start thinking about playoff seedings and analyzing all the different scenarios that teams could face in the postseason. The Tigers are not getting caught up in those potential distractions.
“We are so focused on going 1-0 this week,” remarked Blankenship. “We decided a long time ago that we’ll wait to evaluate everything. We’ve just got to go out and win Friday and it will all settle out.”
Standing in their way this week is a big 6A District 1 showdown at crosstown rival Jenks. The Trojans (6-2, 4-1) currently hold a one-game lead over the Tigers in district play. The two teams have combined to win three of the last four state championships.
“We’ve got to play sound football,” said Blankenship. “We feel like we’ve got a better idea of what our identity is. We knew we were a younger group coming into the season, but those young guys, they’re not pups anymore. We need to play Broken Arrow football.”
YurView will televise the Broken Arrow-Jenks matchup live Friday night at 7 P.M. on Cox Channel 3. This Ford Game of the Week will also be available online.
“We’re approaching the end of the season,” reflected Blankenship. “You always want to be red-hot this time of year. Whether we get the win or not, the priority is, are we going to compete?”