While many of the top high school football teams in the state have been competing in the OSSAA playoffs, another prep team from the Sooner State recently made headlines.
The Northeast Oklahoma Association of Homeschools (NOAH) recently won the NFHA Homeschool Football National Championship in Panama City, Florida. The Jaguars, the top seed in the tournament, defeated #4 Lighthouse Christian (Springfield, MO), 28-14, and #3 Georgia Force (Sugar Hill, GA) in the title game, 42-9.
“It’s been a blast,” said NOAH head coach James Ballinger in a radio interview prior to the national tournament. “This is probably the best group of kids, as far as their love for one another. Our defense could match up with just about any team in the state. It’s been a great experience, from both the on-the-field production and the spirit of the kids.”
A national title became a realistic goal for the Jaguars after they defeated homeschool-power Tomball (TX) Christian in mid-October, 16-15. The Jaguars, who won on a field goal in the final seconds, outscored their opponents, 164-32, in their final five games following the dramatic win.
If you don’t follow homeschool sports, you might be surprised at the quality of talent that’s showcased at that level. Danny Okoye, NOAH’s junior defensive end, is considered the top 2024 player in Oklahoma according to Prep Redzone Oklahoma. The 6-5, 230-pounder has offers from many of the top college programs in the country, including Georgia, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
While Okoye was dominating on the defensive side of the ball, the Jaguars received big offensive performances from quarterback Chet Green (1,890 yards passing & 21 TDs), running back Ben Lowery (1,523 rushing yards & 19 TDs) and receiver Dawon Atchison (34 catches & 7 TDs).
NOAH plays its home games at the Broken Arrow Freshman Academy. Players carpool to away games. Some games are played at neutral sites midway between two schools when two teams are located far apart from each other.
The Jaguars are already working on defending their title. Offseason workouts begin for returning Jaguar players next week.