By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
When his son Baylor was in the second grade, Oklahoma Bible Academy football coach Mark Boyd took him to an Okeene home game to experience the tradition of excellence.
The biggest impression on young Baylor that night was the Whippets’ mascot JoJo running up and down the field before the game.
“He loved that little dog coming out,’’ said the elder Boyd. “If nothing else, you would want to go to the game just to see the dog run up and down the sideline ... of course he wasn’t the fastest one on the field, that’s the scary part.’’
JoJo has retired, but as the saying goes, “tradition doesn’t graduate.”
The No. 6-ranked Whippets (5-1 overall and 3-0 in District A-1) can clinch their 14th straight winning season with a win over the Trojans (3-3, 2-1) Thursday.
“If people want the blueprint to be successful, Okeene is one of the schools you look toward,’’ Boyd said.
The Trojans, with a win, can get back in the district race. Okeene, with a win, draws closer to a Week 9 showdown with current district co-leader Texhoma.
“It’s a very big game for both of us,’’ said Okeene head coach Jeff Wardlaw. “OBA played the socks off Texhoma. You know they will come ready to play.’’
“We’re still in the hunt,’’ said Boyd. “That’s always a positive
OBA’s three losses (to Chisholm, Morrison and Texhoma) have come against teams with a combined record of 14-4.
“We have proven we can compete against good teams,’’ Boyd said, “but we haven’t beaten one yet so this is another opportunity to see if we can get over the hump.
“We didn’t execute well, but our effort was superior against Texhoma. We didn’t always do what we were supposed to do, but you could tell the kids gave a lot of effort. One of these days, everything is going to click and we’re going to be pretty tough.’’
Boyd describes the game as a bend-but-not-break defense (OBA) against a bend-but-not-break offense (Okeene).
The Whippets’ offensive strength is their efficiency and discipline with few penalties or turnovers, Boyd said. Okeene has had only two turnovers in district play.
OBA’s defense is built on taking advantage of opponents mistakes and forcing turnovers. The Trojans’ defense had a rare breakdown when Texhoma’s Will Galliard ran 96 yards for a score in last week’s 19-7 setback.
“We have been doing a good job of keeping everything in front of us,’’ Boyd said. “I think it’s strength against strength. It will come down to who can break down the other.’’
Okeene quarterback Scott Dobrinski has put the offense on his back ever since stellar tailback Chase Bedwell went down for the season with a torn ACL in the opener against Cashion.
Dobrinski has rushed for 715 yards and eight touchdowns and thrown for 363 yards and one score.
“Scott has been pretty consistent,’’ Wardlaw said. “We have had to overcome some situations with injuries, but I’ve been pleased with the way our guys have gotten ready to play.’’
Cade Mitch, who played flanker prior to Bedwell’s injury, has rushed for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Mikey Dobrinski, Scott’s quadruplet brother, is the top receiver with 11 catches for 77 yards.
“We thrusted him (Mitch) into action,’’ Wardlaw said. “He’s getting better. We’re getting to be more confident with Cade and he’s getting to be more confident in himself. We need to throw and catch more to take some of the load off, but our run game has been pretty solid.’’
The Whippets with Dobrinski in the zone-read offense, ran for 434 yards last season in beating the Trojans 54-12.
“What gives Okeene an advantage over a lot of teams is their line is so huge,’’ Boyd said. “I know they look huge on film. That’s half the battle.
“Our kids highly respect what they do, but we have played them enough that we’re more familiar with what they are doing. We know how to prepare for it and what to expect.’’
OBA tailback Chris Walker has drawn the attention of the Okeene defense.
“We have to keep Mr. Walker in check,’’ Wardlaw said. “Every time he touches the ball, he’s capable of scoring. You can bottle him, but he can get away from you in a hurry. Their quarterback (Preston Atwood) throws the ball really well. They have four good receivers to throw to and they may have the best offensive line we have seen so far.’’
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OBA linebacker Nathan Meier “is a handful,’’ Wardlaw said.
Okeene’s defense has allowed only nine points per game. Junior Mitchell Howe leads the team in tackles with 41, followed by Scott Dobrinski with 30 and Tucker Jones with 29.
Boyd said the Trojans will have to take care of the ball and be more proficient on third down. OBA has had 13 turnovers this season — eight interceptions and five fumbles. They have lost only one fumble the last three games.
“We would like to run the ball more consistently than we have the last game or two,’’ Boyd said.
OBA at Okeene
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Records: OBA (3-3, 2-1), Okeene (5-1, 3-0)
Series: Okeene leads 3-1
Last meeting: Okeene won 54-12, 2012