– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
The 2018 football season has come and gone. It feels like just yesterday we were previewing the 2018 campaign. Now it’s time to recap it! Continuing today, and finishing up on December 29th, we’ll have postseason content from season in reviews to all state teams every day. Be sure to check back in with OKPreps every day for a new feature.
Broken Arrow Tigers
Coming into the 2018 season, the Tigers were hungrier than ever to end the question that is asked every season. When will Broken Arrow win a state title in football? They had the talent and on paper they looked like one of the more talented teams in the state. It didn’t take very long for the Tigers to back up all the hype in the preseason. Broken Arrow put their talent on display with one of the toughest schedules in the first month of the season.
They opened things up with a 33-10 win over Union. The Tigers backed that up the following week by beating down Mansfield, Texas 28-6. Then it was time to take the show on the road against defending champion Owasso. The Tigers would once again roll behind a dominating running game and a stifling defense. They would leave Owasso with a 3-0 record after a 47-20 win. Broken Arrow finished up non-district play with a perfect record and appeared to be, without a doubt, the best team in Oklahoma.
After a week off, it was time to prove that this team was for real. They would host Jenks to open up district play. The Tigers would give up a touchdown on the opening drive, but it was all Broken Arrow after that, as they rolled to a 28-13 win. At this point, if you doubted Broken Arrow as the championship favorite, you were basing it off past seasons. The Tigers wouldn’t be tested again until the playoffs. They beat the next six opponents by a combined score of 355-27. During that stretch, they failed to score 50 points only once.
After another shutout victory over Moore in the first round, Broken Arrow would square off with Owasso in a rematch of their week two clash. The Tigers would once again appear dominant on defense but the offense struggled to get anything going. In the end, Broken Arrow would knock off the Rams 10-7 to advance to the state title game.
In another rematch, the Tigers would face Jenks for the gold ball. Just like the regular season meeting, Jenks would score on their first drive. This time around, it came on the first play. However, the Tigers would not back down from a fight. Led by a dominating rushing attack, once again, the Tigers would win 28-20 and capture their first state title in school history. The combination of Quintevin Cherry and Noah Cortes was nearly impossible to stop in the second half, and junior Myles Slusher would pick off Ian Corwin at the goal line to secure the championship win.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Noah Cortes – RB – Broken Arrow
Week in and week out, Broken Arrow was without a doubt the best team in the state of Oklahoma. And week in and week out, one of the most consistent players was Broken Arrow senior running back Noah Cortes. On a roster loaded with potential stars, it was Cortes that shined every week as the Tigers completed a perfect 13-0 season. Cortes became the school’s all time leading rusher late in the regular season. As Broken Arrow’s resident workhorse, he carried the ball 261 times for 1,958 yards and an eye-opening 35 touchdowns. He had 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons combined. It certainly helped that Cortes was running behind arguably the best offensive line in Oklahoma.
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Angelo Bell – WR – Putnam City North
Putnam City North had a breakout season this year and the future is certainly bright with the Panthers. With a roster full of young talented players, the Panthers could be a darkhorse to potentially make a run in 2019. One of the players that will lead the way for PC North in 2019 is wide receiver Angelo Bell, this year’s Breakout Player Of The Year. The junior wide receiver caught three passes in 2017 and blew away those numbers this year, becoming one of 6A-D1’s top receivers. He caught 40 passes for 817 yards and 13 touchdowns. With his quarterback returning as well, Bell and the PC North offense could be near the top of 6A-D1 in 2019.
Eastside Continues To Dominate
While it wasn’t Jenks or Union winning another gold ball, it was one of the four Tulsa powers capturing the state title. Broken Arrow winning made history for them but it just added another team not from the westside that won a title. In fact, you can make the argument that the four Tulsa powers are getting stronger and their grip on the gold ball is only getting tighter. This was the second straight year that Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso and Union all made the semifinals. And as we look at 2019 and who some of the top teams will be, we’d be foolish to not start that list with those four usual suspects once again.
First Perfect Season Since Split
Broken Arrow captured their first state title in school history, but they also made history in another area. Since the split in 6A, we’ve now had five state champions. Jenks twice, Union, Owasso and Broken Arrow once. And prior to this season, no team has been able to go undefeated on their way to the state championship. Broken Arrow was able to accomplish the record this season. The Tigers would not only go 13-0, but they would beat the best of the best along the way. They beat Union once, as well as Jenks and Owasso two different times. That shows just how special of a team this Tiger squad was.
New Westside Contenders Rising
In 2018, some of the usual suspects in the OKC area missed out on the playoffs. Mustang and Norman North have done some damage in recent years but they missed the postseason this fall. However, some new teams have risen up and have some significantly bright futures. Moore, Norman and Putnam City North all made the playoffs this season, and with each teams having young rosters, don’t be surprised to see them in the playoffs once again next season. Norman and PC North each ended playoff droughts this year. Meanwhile, Moore made the playoffs for the second straight year. They ended a playoff drought of over a decade last year.
Jenks 27, Union 24 (Semifinal)
This one shouldn’t be a surprise at all as Jenks and Union played another absolute instant classic that will be remembered for decades. These two top programs have had their share of playoff magic but we saw a first this year. In the semifinals, Jenks beat Union 27-24 on a Noah Hernandez touchdown run as time expired. It was the first time in this storied rivalry that we saw a game-winning play with no time left. This was almost a fantastic finish for Union instead. Trailing 21-17, Union scored on fourth down with just 20 seconds left to take the lead. However, on Jenks’ next play, Ian Corwin would find Julian Clarke and after two Union defenders gambled on the ball, Clarke was able to race to the Union 3 before being pushed out of bounds. After an Ian Corwin QB sneak was stopped short, it was Hernandez plunging into the end zone as the Trojans played for the win instead of sending the semifinals to overtime.