Broken Arrow head football coach David Alexander thinks he might write a book some day after he steps away from the game. If he does, he says he plans to dedicate an entire chapter to current Tiger Sanchez Banks.
Banks was buried on the Tiger depth chart at the beginning of last season and eventually worked his way into the starting lineup. Rather than quit or transfer, the 5-10, 205-pound senior running back stuck it out, got better and took advantage of his opportunities when they were given to him.
“He did it exactly the way you want a kid to do it,” said Alexander, who’s in his seventh season as head coach of the Tigers. “Last year after a couple of games, he came to me and wanted to know what he could do to get more playing time. I told him to go play JV and be the best player on the field. That’s exactly what he did. He was the best player out there. We moved him up and we had a couple of injuries and this happened and that happened and he just kept getting better and better. He was awesome.”
“I was really close to giving up, but it was mostly the coaches and my mom,” admitted Banks on who kept pushing him to continue. “She was pushing me, saying I was going to have my time. Just wait. You’ve worked too hard to not have something. And next thing you know, it happened.”
What happened was Banks earned his first start midway through the season and wound up with more than 1,000 yards rushing to help lead the Tigers to the state semifinals.
Despite last season’s success, Banks isn’t getting the bulk of the carries this season. He’s sharing time with electrifying junior Maurion Horn. The two backs provide Broken Arrow with a lethal, one-two punch of power and speed that make it hard for teams to defend.
Although they’re competing for playing time, there’s no rivalry between the two players. They’re good friends and motivate each other to get better.
“It’s crazy how close we are,” said Horn, who’s rated as the top Oklahoma prospect in 2021 by some recruiting services. “I feel like we have so much in common, but we don’t, you know? He has the size and I have the speed. When one of us makes a play, the other one is right there. We’re celebrating together.”
“We always push each other,” added Banks. “We always try to be better than each other. Everybody knows that he’s faster than me, but I like to think I’m faster than him. He always likes to talk that he’s bigger than me.”
“We just try to split the reps,” said Alexander matter-of-factly. “Maurion starts and gets two or three carries and then we put Sanchez in there. They both have their strengths. They’re both great football players and great kids.”
“He’s just too good with the ball in his hands to not play him,” said Alexander. “When he gets the ball in his hands he’s special with it. As we get towards the playoffs I’m sure he’ll play more than one position. He played corner last year, but if you put one of your best players at corner, maybe he affects the game for three or four plays. At running back, he’s affecting it for 60 plays, whether he’s getting the ball or not. We had to put him in a place where he could affect the other team more.”
Banks continues to have a nose for the end zone as well. He scored touchdowns in Broken Arrow’s wins over Bentonville West and Tulsa Union.
“Honestly, I think I’m way better this year,” claimed Banks. “Even with being with Maurion, I feel like we’re actually great together.”
Broken Arrow is off to a solid 2-1 start after losing to defending state champion Owasso three weeks ago. The Tigers have been off since then due to a bye week and last week’s game against Westmoore being cancelled due to COVID-19. They’re eager to get back on the field and start a new winning streak.
“We need to come together as a team and get on the same level,” claimed Horn. “We need to work hard every practice and give it our all. We need to play every game like it’s our last because the way it’s going right now, we don’t know if it’s our last game of the season.”
# 3 Broken Arrow takes part in the top game in the area Friday night, October 2nd, when they battle #2 Jenks in a key 6A-I showdown in the first district game for both teams. Yurview will televise this Ford Game of the Week (Cox Channel 3 in Tulsa and Channel 93 in Oklahoma City) at 7:30 pm CT or watch the game online.
“It’s always fun playing Jenks,” admitted Horn. “We just have to come in hard. We have to come in and fight 100 percent from the start of the game until the end of the game and work hard every play.”