– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
Defending Champion/Team To Beat
They had the most talent in the state a year ago and not much has changed as we turn our attention to the 2017 campaign. When you look at the OKPreps 2018 rankings, they have 7 players in the top 75 and three of them are currently ranked in the top ten. They also have 3 players in the OKPreps 2019 rankings. They’ll have a tough schedule once again but that never seems to slow them down. They’ll have to figure out who their starting quarterback is going to be, but the Redskins are strong everywhere else.
After making it to the state championship game in 2015, Broken Arrow took a step back last year. It’s not crazy to see why, the majority of their starters from the 2015 team graduated. However, the Tigers return nearly everyone this year and will be looking for a title run. They’ll need to find a new quarterback but the Tigers are going to be led by a stout defense.
The other team that has dominated and tormented the state’s largest class. While the Trojans had their undefeated run stop short in the semifinals, they’ll once again be a contender. They return their quarterback and the majority of the defensive standouts will return. Until something changes, no matter the year, Jenks will always be considered a top contender.
I guess you could call it the “Bill Blankenship Effect”. That would be one explanation why a team would go from 3-7 to considered a top contender the following year. The Rams were much better than their 3-7 record indicated. They were riddled with injuries all season. They return a lot of talented players this year. If they stay healthy, they’ll have an opportunity to make a run.
We write it every year, but every year it holds up. At this point, you have to consider anybody outside of Jenks or Union a darkhorse in the state’s largest class. As for Westmoore, they’ll have plenty of talent to contend. Head coach Lorenzo Williams is going into his second season at the helm. The Jaguars are coming off their second playoff appearance in three years and appear ready for a deeper run.
Storylines To Follow
Great West(Moore) Hope
Since the split in 6A, 12 of the 16 schools in 6A-D1 reside in the Oklahoma City area. However, every year it seems that two teams from the Tulsa area are playing for the state championship. Whether it’s Jenks, Union or even Broken Arrow, the west side hasn’t had much of a chance. Norman North became that “Great West Hope” last year with their best season in school history. They beat Union in the regular season but lightning wouldn’t strike twice with the title on the line. This year, that team could end up being Westmoore. The Jaguars will have the offensive firepower to score with anyone in the state. The top player in the state in offensive lineman Brey Walker transferring in does nothing but bolster an offense that’s going to be hard to slow down.
Return Of Bill Blankenship
It’s been over a decade since we’ve seen Bill Blankenship as a high school football coach in Oklahoma. You know the story at this point. Helped build the Union dynasty. Resigned to pursue a college gig. Got the college gig. Last year, Blankenship returned to the high school ranks in another state. He took over a Fayetteville program that had been dominant in Arkansas. In his first and only season, Blankenship led Fayetteville to a 12-1 record and a state championship in Arkansas’ largest class. In January, Owasso made one of the biggest splashes in recent memory when they named Blankenship their next head coach. The hire has brought expectations in Owasso to an all new high. Expectations that Blankenship and the Rams aren’t shying away from.
Bill Blankenship isn’t the only championship coach returning to Oklahoma. Yukon hired former Altus head coach Jeremy Reed away from Arkansas. Reed will look to breathe new life in a Yukon program that has been in the cellar since the split in 6A. Yukon fans will hope that Reed can work some more magic that led to Altus capturing the 2015 Class 5A state championship. In the three seasons before Reed took over at Altus, the Bulldogs were 9-21, going 3-7 every year. In the two seasons Reed was at the helm, the Bulldogs were 21-4 and won a title. In the last three years, Yukon is 6-24, including a winless season a year ago. If Reed can turn this Yukon program around in his first year at the helm, you have to start considering him one of the better coaches in Oklahoma.
Players To Watch
Braxton Bohrofen – Quarterback – Westmoore
Westmoore quarterback Braxton Bohrofen is headed into his third year as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. Bohrofen completed nearly 60% of his passes and 25 touchdowns last year as the Jags made the playoffs. Bohrofen is going to have a plethora of talent around him to distribute the ball. Bohrofen will have the opportunity to be the leader of the most explosive offense in 6A-D1.
Darrius Boone Jr. – Running Back – Union
Darrius Boone Jr. is the next running back in a long line of successful ones at Union. Boone backed up Shamari Brooks last year. Brooks ran for over 2,000 yards, leaving big shoes for Boone to fill this fall. Just a junior, Boone will have an opportunity to make a huge impact on a team full of playmakers. Boone saw limited time last year but is already getting the attention of D1 schools.
Ian Corwin – Quarterback – Jenks
One of the biggest question marks before the 2016 season was who was going to replace Jenks quarterback Cooper Nunley. That question was answered as sophomore Ian Corwin led the Trojans to another 10-0 regular season. Corwin was calm, cool and collected as he took over the Jenks offense. More will be added to his plate after the graduation of 3 D1 skill players.
Josh Proctor – Wide Receiver/Safety – Owasso
Arguably the state’s top defender will be one of Owasso’s biggest playmakers this fall. Josh Proctor is the state’s top safety prospect but will see plenty of time on the offensive side of the ball this season. Think back to when Blankenship was at Union in 2005. Union was very creative with how they used cornerback Dominique Franks. Look for Proctor to be used in a similar fashion.
Perry Olsen – Quarterback – Yukon
Yukon has a tall mountain to climb. The Millers were winless a season ago and they have aspirations of contending for a playoff spot this fall. Perry Olsen is a big reason for that. The transfer from Southmoore is the perfect athletic and physical quarterback for Jeremy Reed’s option attack. Olsen can also have an impact on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker.
Mark Your Calendars
August 25 – Owasso AT Jenks
Not only is it the first game of the Blankenship era at Owasso, it’s the renewal of an old rivalry. The Blankenship-Trimble rivalry in the 90’s and 2000’s was what helped change the landscape of high school football forever. Now we get to see the next chapter unfold in week zero.
September 7 – Jenks VS Union (@ TU’s Chapman Stadium)
It’s one of the top games year after year. That’s what happens when the two participants have combined for the last 20+ state championships. Nothing has changed this year. Jenks won an instant classic during the regular season but Union dominated the semifinal meeting.
September 29 – Owasso AT Union
The storyline writes itself with this match-up. Not only will Blankenship’s Rams face his old team. But Blankenship will be on the opposite sideline under the Tuttle Stadium lights. Not only will this game have all the headlines, but it could end up deciding the district champion.
October 13 – Norman North AT Union
It’s a rematch of one of the bigger upsets in recent years. Norman North stunned Union in the regular season and captured the district title. While Union had the last laugh, the two will meet again this year in district play. We’ll see if the T’Wolves can take two out of three from Union.
October 27 – Jenks AT Westmoore
By this point, we’ll know if Westmoore has what it takes to truly be a contender in 6A-D1. If they pass all the quizzes up to this point, they’ll have one major final exam waiting for them. They’ll host powerhouse Jenks. The Jags have the talent to win, but can they do it on the field?
Prediction For Title Game With Champion
Union Over Owasso
The reason for this pick is pretty simple. We think these are the two most complete teams. You can’t find very many question marks with either one of them. The other contenders have questions that have yet to be answered. Union might have the most talented team in the state and Owasso has plenty of talent, they now have a hall of fame coach, and chances are that the injury bug won’t suck the life force out of the Rams like it did in 2016. In this match-up, we’ll take the team with the most talent from top to bottom. That’s a very close race between these two teams. Both teams have experienced playmakers. Both teams have guys who could emerge as such by the time December rolls around. As for the winner, it’s hard to go against a proven commodity like Union. The defending champs get it done, but this could be the start of something special in Owasso.