– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
The 2017 football season is in the books. We saw some great performances throughout the season. It’s time to kick off the Season In Review series with a look at Class 6A-D1. Stay tuned to OKPreps every day as we take a look at each class!
2017 State Champion
The top story last offseason was Owasso hiring Bill Blankenship as their next head coach. Blankenship helped build Union to what they are today. He also had a successful stint at Tulsa as their head coach and led Fayetteville to a state title in Arkansas in his one year there. When Owasso hired Blankenship in January, Ram fans immediately had their expectations reach new heights.
Owasso opened up the season and immediately made headlines all over the state. Owasso started the year against perennial power Jenks on the road. Owasso dominated the Trojans with a 48-10 victory. The Rams were led by quarterback Will Kuehne, who finished with nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns as the Rams dominated Jenks from start to finish. Owasso followed that up with a blowout victory over Bartlesville before beating Broken Arrow to wrap up non-district play.
After a bye week, the Rams opened up district play with a 63-41 win over Mustang. The following week, the Rams suffered their only loss of the season in a double overtime thriller against Union. Owasso fell 44-41 in a game that decided the district championship. The only other competitive game in the regular season was on the road against Norman North. After the T’Wolves jumped out to a 7-0 lead, the Rams rattled off 28 unanswered points and put this game away early in a rout.
They went into the playoffs with one of the best offenses in the state. They averaged over 50 points per game and appeared to be on a collision course with Union for a championship rematch. The Rams opened up the playoffs with a dominating win over Westmoore. They followed that up with a 21-0 semifinal victory over Jenks. That set up a rematch with the Redskins for the state title. Owasso jumped out to a 14-0 lead and took full advantage of Union turnovers and penalties. They would go on to win 21-14, capturing their first state championship, and ending a 21-year streak where either Jenks or Union won the state title.
Player Of The Year
JOSH PROCTOR – WIDE RECEIVER/DEFENSIVE BACK – OWASSO
We saw a lot of great individual performances this year from players in 6A-D1. When you look at Owasso, you could pick several guys that are worthy of Player Of The Year. The Rams won the state championship, ending the 21-year streak of either Jenks or Union winning it all. On a team full of stars, one has stood out from start to finish. Josh Proctor showed why he’s an All American all season as he did whatever was needed of him. Whether it was catching or running the ball on offense, or being the captain of a stingy and fast Ram defense, Proctor also made a serious case to be the top overall recruit in Oklahoma’s 2018 class.
Breakout Player Of The Year
BRYCE CABRERA – RUNNING BACK – OWASSO
On a team full of stars like the Player Of The Year in Josh Proctor, it was running back Bryce Cabrera that shined each and every week. Cabrera quickly became the X-Factor for the Rams on their way to the state championship. Cabrera was a threat to not only run the ball but he made plenty of plays catching it out of the backfield. On the year, Cabrera finished with over 1,500 yards on the ground and 27 touchdowns. He also had over 700 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns. Cabrera showed just why he’s this year’s breakout player of the year in the championship game. He had a complete game with over 100 yards rushing and over 100 yards receiving.
CREATOR & DESTROYER
There’s something poetic about a team, led by Bill Blankenship, ending a 21 year-streak that was helped in the beginning by Bill Blankenship. Jenks and Union have owned the state’s largest class for just over two decades. Many teams have stepped up to challenge them and every team was sent back. Until now. Blankenship helped build the Union monster that occupies Tuttle Stadium today. After Jenks won six straight titles, Blankenship and the Redskins won three out of four years before he resigned to pursue a college job. Former Blankenship assistant Kirk Fridrich has taken the Union program and continued it’s growth over the last 11 years. He’s brought home five state titles during his time. When Blankenship was hired in January to take over the Owasso program, many thought that he would be the guy to finally end the streak. Here’s a thought for the offseason. Since he was apart of the start and has won again, is the streak really over? Or are we just looking at a third team to include into this streak of dominance.
END OF AN ERA?
Ever since the sudden retirement and then the diagnosis of ALS for Jenks head coach Allan Trimble, many wondered when the state’s most decorated coach would call it quits for good. While he hasn’t confirmed that the 2017 season would be his last, many believe that it will be. Following their semifinal loss to Owasso, an emotional Trimble said he would spend time talking with family and the Jenks administration about his future with the program. If 2017 was the last we’ll see of Trimble on the sidelines, the career was outstanding. 13 state championships and 17 total appearances in the title game in his 22 seasons is a remarkable milestone. Not to mention that his teams reached the semifinal round every year except for one in his 22 seasons in charge. It could be argued that Trimble is one of, if not the best coach we’ve ever seen in state history. And it might not be much of an argument.
WILD WILD WEST
A question in Class 6A-D1 every year is who will be the best of the west. Or the “great west hope”. With Owasso winning the title and all four Tulsa-area schools going to the semifinals, it appears that the west side isn’t close to breaking the stranglehold that the “Big 4” have on 6A-D1. However, when you really look at this season and the last few years, the west side is coming, and it’s only a matter of time. Norman North made it to the title game a year ago and proved that they are becoming a consistent program with another strong season this year. Edmond Santa Fe, Mustang and Westmoore always have to be considered threats to make the playoffs and depending on the year, one could jump up and make that title game run. This year we saw some other teams taking steps in a positive direction. Moore made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. Yukon also won four games and are building something under head coach Jeremy Reed. Four wins isn’t a lot but they were very competitive in some of those losses and the four wins is an improvement after going 2-18 the previous two years.
UNION OVER OWASSO 44-41 (2OT)
For Owasso fans, their fantastic finish came in December with the gold ball. However, before they met for the title, Owasso and Union squared off on the last Friday in September and the 1 VS 2 battle lived up to every bit of hype that this match-up had coming in. That’s what’s so impressive about this game looking back. It had just about everything you wanted. It was #1 VS #2. Bill Blankenship was returning to Union but on the opposing sideline. He was facing Kirk Fridrich, his former assistant, who also spent a year at Owasso. Not to mention all the future D1 players we would see on the field. What else could you ask for? So many times, the predicted “Game Of The Year” ends up being a dud. That is not what we got as these two teams went back and forth and ended up going to double overtime to decide the winner.
Owasso found themselves up 20-6 in the second quarter but the Redskins would immediately respond. They tied the game up at 20 as the two teams went to halftime. In the second half, we saw more fireworks between the two top teams in the class, although some of those fireworks came with their share of controversy. Owasso took a 27-20 lead on a Keyln Jones 96-yard fumble return. When the 13,000+ spectators watched the replay on the video board at Tuttle Stadium, they saw that Jones was on the ground when he got possession of the fumble. He then stood up and raced the 96 yards. However, the refs didn’t see it, so touchdown Owasso.
Union responded with 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Owasso had to put a drive together and the Rams were ready to answer the call. Will Kuehne found Tyrese Sisson for a short touchdown with just 13 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. After both teams scored and made their extra points, we went to a second overtime. Facing fourth down, Owasso decided to go for it and came up short of the end zone. All Union would need is a field goal to get out with the win. They sent out their All State-caliber kicker Noah Rauschenberg to kick a 26-yard field goal and he drilled it for the win.
SEASON IN REVIEW SERIES