It didn’t take Owasso quarterback Austin Havens long to learn about how big high school football is in Oklahoma.
“I moved here halfway through my freshman year from North Carolina,” said Havens. “Moving here was way different than living there. One thing I noticed right away is how much this community loves football. The great facilities, the great coaches, it’s a lot different. I love it here.”
That love has been reciprocated as Havens led the Rams to the 6A-I semifinals last year as a sophomore. The 6-4, 190-pounder is off to a great start this year. Owasso is 3-0 and currently ranked number one in the state.
“What I’ve really tried to reinforce to him is to use the team around you,” claimed head coach Bill Blankenship. “Treat it like you’re a point guard in basketball. Be a distributor. I don’t need you to make the fancy play. I just need you to get the ball to the guys that are open and let them score.”
“I think he’s embraced that,” added Blankenship, who has led the Rams to two state titles during his tenure. “Last year, I thought he tried to press too much and would throw the ball into coverage. He’s done much better about taking care of the football this year and getting it to guys for a big play.”
The numbers back up Blankenship’s assessment. Havens has already thrown for more than 900 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Against rival Broken Arrow two weeks ago, Havens was an impressive 17-for-20 for 285 yards and four touchdowns.
“I’ve improved a lot on that part, especially with the offense,” admitted Havens, who’s currently ranked the third-best junior quarterback in the state according to Prep Redzone Oklahoma. “We had a lot of meetings in the offseason to get me more into the system. I did a decent job as a sophomore running the offense, but I’m a lot more comfortable now and relaxed.”
Havens’ comfort level on the field has led him to become more of a leader, both on and off the field.
Another indicator that Havens is embracing a team leader role is his willingness to spend time and give back to the Owasso community. Recently Havens and some teammates took time to speak to an Owasso fourth grade team.
“That was just something I got some of the guys on the team to go and do,” recalled Havens. “They support us a lot. We all know that they look up to us. Any time we can go and influence them, we know that they’ll listen to us.”
“I talked to them about listening to their coaches,” added Havens. “I told them that their coaches know what they’re doing. They have to trust that and that they’re coaching them hard because they love them and they want them to get better. I told them to never give up on the game.”
“We don’t require it by any nature, but we certainly do try to encourage it when we hear about it,” said Blankenship about his team giving back to the community. “We want that to be part of our DNA and part of our personality. As players do that more, we’re going to celebrate it. That creates a culture where they want to give back. I’m really excited when I hear our players are giving back to the young kids.”
The top-ranked Rams face another stiff test this week when they take on crosstown rival and third-ranked Union Friday night. This Ford Game of the Week will be broadcast live on Cox’s YurView Channel 3 and streamed online.
“They’re a really good football team,” admitted Havens. “During this bye week, we’ve been practicing a lot. We have a really good gameplan, so I’m confident in that. We just have to go out there and play together and compete with them.”