Much has been made of Oklahoma’s east side dominance in Class 6A football. The last time a team from the west side won the state championship in the largest classification was in 1995.
The Broncos, under the direction of first-year head coach Lee Blankenship, are peaking at the right time of year and are serious contenders to challenge that east-side streak. They’re coming off a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over Moore in their regular season finale and have their sights set on making a deep run in the playoffs.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” said Blankenship, who has made previous stops at Bartlesville and Beggs. “We were down by as many as two scores in that game. We just continued to play. We never let our heads hang. That’s a message we give our kids every week. Our kids exemplified that Friday night and did a great job of finding a way to win that ball game.”
The win improved Mustang to 7-3 on the season and more importantly, clinched home field for the Broncos for the first round of the playoffs.
“I’m so thrilled for our seniors,” said Blankenship. “It has a lot to do with that class. They didn’t know me when I got here and we have an almost entirely new coaching staff. The amount of trust that they’ve put into our coaching staff has been awesome. They’ve really laid a great foundation for the future of our football program.”
The mid-season win over Union proved to be a turning point for the Broncos. It showed them they can play with anyone in the state, and they won’t be intimidated when they square off against east-side powerhouse Jenks in the opening round of the playoffs.
“The confidence that it gave our kids, it gave them the mindset that they can accomplish anything,” said Blankenship of the win over the Redskins. “Confidence comes from being the very best person I can be every day and our kids have really bought into that. Being focused and disciplined and doing the little things right, that’s why we were able to beat Union.”
The Broncos have been led by the 1-2 rushing attack of seniors Harvey Phillips and Khary Brown. Both had huge games against Moore and have put up big numbers in the regular season thanks to the work of a talented offensive line.
“Our O-line has been excellent this year,” remarked Brown, who torched Moore for five touchdowns last week. “They’ve overcome so many obstacles. They’ve done a lot of work and they’ve come together as a group.”
“The O-line has been huge for us,” added Phillips, who tallied 154 yards on 25 carries against Moore. “They’ve been giving us that push, getting their blocks and making sure everyone is taken care of. They don’t get a lot of credit but those dudes are probably the hardest working guys on the team and it shows in the games.”
It’s rare to see a first-year coach experience success so quickly, but it’s proof that the kids and the community have bought in to Blankenship’s style and philosophy.
“Coach Blankenship has really brought a sense of family,” claimed Phillips. “He teaches us to do the little things right. He teaches us to be men of character. He doesn’t focus as much on football, he focuses more on us as men. I think that’s a really big thing. If you have good character, you’re going to be a good football player. It brings discipline to the team. It gives excitement to the community, something that we’ve never had before.”
“He brought us closer first as teammates and brothers, and as a community they’ve fallen in behind us,” added Brown. “They saw the change and they liked it and they wanted to be a part of the change. Once that happened, it was kind of like a virus, it was like, ‘BOOM!”
Mustang opens postseason play this week when the Broncos host Jenks in a huge 6A-I showdown on Friday, November 15th at 7pm. This Ford Game of the Week will be broadcast live on YurView Cox Channel 3 and streamed online at Yurview.com.
It’s just the second meeting ever between the two teams, and the first time Mustang has hosted a first-round playoff game in six years.
“More than anything, it’s special for our community,” said Blankenship. “There’s so much pride in our town. One of our core values in our football program is to love others as much as you love yourself. It’s really a big deal for our kids to do that for our town this year.”
“They’ve improved significantly over the course of the year,” remarked Jenks head coach Keith Riggs. “Coach Blankenship has done a great job with them. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They’re very resourceful. If you look at their games, they always seem to find a way to win even when they’re down. It’s going to be a great football game.”