By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
There’s been a few big surprises this football season, but two of the biggest came in week 8 in the top two tiers of High School Football.
#1 Jenks looked to be wrapping up another solid win on their way to a 16th state title as they led #3 Broken Arrow 34-21 in the third quarter. With two more-or-less assured wins ahead of them, the Trojans were on the path to a perfect season headed into the playoffs. Instead, they suffered their first home loss in 9 years, and they lost their #1 ranking along with it.
What happened? Devon Johnson happened. Jenks was threatening at the BA 5 yard line when the Tiger safety sacked Cooper Nunley, forcing the Trojans to settle for a field goal. Then, Johnson brought back the ensuing kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown with 39 seconds in the quarter. Gage Kaiser intercepted a Trojan pass on their next possession and the Tigers capitalized on it with a 6 yard pass from Cade Yeager to Devin Clayton for a touchdown. Chandler Saied’s PAT gave BA the lead and the home team was unable to find their legs for a fourth quarter score.
This is not to take anything away from Broken Arrow. They’re an incredible team and what they did was no small feat. But here are the facts. Jenks completed more first downs than BA. They had more total yardage, less penalties, never lost a fumble. This loss came down to a handful of plays.
Sammy Akem had already had one kickoff touchdown-return for BA, and after that Jenks should have been looking for touchbacks. Offensively, Jenks dominated the game with 5 of their 6 scores coming from offensive drives. It was the Broken Arrow defense and special teams that won it with two interceptions, two kickoff returns for TDs, and two forced field goals.
In a world where Broken Arrow was undefeated, it would be cut-and-dry. BA would take the #1 spot, Jenks would take #2. I mean, it was only a one-point loss. But instead it became a love-triangle for first place, as BA had already lost a match to Union, who had in-turn lost a game to Jenks. Head-to-head records wouldn’t help in this decision.
Union (6-2, 5-0) took an early 28-0 lead against Broken Arrow (7-1, 5-0) in week 3 before finishing 42-18.
Jenks (6-1, 4-1) hammered Union 45-27 in the Backyard Bowl in week 2. The Trojans gave up 30 more yards in penalties, threw two interceptions, and still managed to beat Union by 18 points, 10 more first downs, and 517 yards to 308.
So in a 3-way tie, how did Jenks get the snub? The Oklahoman bumped the Trojans to #3, MaxPreps to #2, OKPreps to #3, and Tulsa World to #3. Union took #1 in all of those ranking. Sandite Pride only ranks 6A-II, but if I did rank 6A-I, Jenks would still be #1 in my book.
When Union and Jenks play at their best, Jenks comes out on top. When Union and BA play at their best, Union comes out on top. Jenks played sloppy. BA wanted it more. But that doesn’t make Jenks a worse team as a whole.
Looking back at 2014, Jenks lost to both Owasso and Union in the regular season, then solidly defeated both in the post-season….when they were playing their best. If Union brings home the gold this year, then I’ll be more than happy to eat my words. But if I were a betting man, I’d be putting all my money on a fourth-consecutive Trojan Title.
I’d also like to make a plea on behalf of Bixby in 6A-II. Booker T Washington has the top spot secured—hands down. I won’t debate that. The Hornets are killer. But how does Lawton rank second in Tulsa World and third in OKPreps and the Oklahoman? Lawton is doing a great job this season, but they haven’t played any really tough teams to earn that ranking. They have a loss to a 5A team, allowed a 3-5 unranked Kansas team score 35 points on them, and allowed the bottom two teams in 6A score a combined 33 points. Lawton is solid, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do beat Sand Springs or Bixby in the playoffs. But until it happens, I can’t justifiably rank them ahead when their only experience is against the worst teams in the division.