By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Bruce Hendrickson has been enjoying his return to coaching even though his Seiling Wildcats are 1-2 going into Friday’s home game with Waukomis.
“Northwest Oklahoma is home, it’s where my roots are and Seiling is a big part of that,’’ said Hendrickson, who previously coached at Seiling from 1984-1997. “Personally, I’m having more fun than anybody else. It’s just been a big class reunion for me every week.’’
On Friday, Hendrickson, the state’s winningest coach (352-93-2) can renew ties with Waukomis assistant Andy Claborn, whom he has matched wits with over the years.
“Andy has coached at more schools than anybody that I know,’’ Hendrickson said with a laugh. “He’s always done a good job. We visit with each other now and then and he’s certainly been a good friend of mine.’’
“My dad and coach Hendrickson have quite a history,’’ said Waukomis head coach Jon Claborn, Andy’s son. “We know his legend. He’s the winnigest coach in state history and that garners a lot of respect from our players and coaches.’’
Jon Claborn said the game will be decided more from player than coaching matchups, but is challenged about going against Hendrickson.
“He’s an offensive genius,’’ Claborn said. “He has a brilliant offensive mind. He does a good job about putting your defense in a bind. He’ll line up in sets you have never seen before. You don’t win that many games by not knowing what you’re doing.’’
Waukomis is coming off a 60-34 loss to unbeaten Merritt. The Chiefs have scored 118 points after three games, compared to 64 at the same time last season.
“Andy and Jon really have a good thing going over there,’’ Hendrickson said. “They are the most improved team that I’ve seen. They have some outstanding players in key positions. Their quarterback (Justus Crites) might be the best player in the district.’’
Hendrickson had a rude welcome to 8-man with losses to Sharon-Mutual, 46-20 and Ringwood 41-6 before the Wildcats beat Medford 54-8 last week.
“Nobody likes getting beat, but when I came here I knew we didn’t have any experience (only one senior starter) and it would be a building process,’’ Hendrickson said. “Next year, we’ll be able to compete against the better teams. The kids are working hard and have a great attitude ... I wish were more competitive, but certainly goes without saying.’’
Coaching 8-man for the first time, Hendrickson said is “new and exciting.’’ The biggest difference is “you can’t cover up your mistakes on defense like you can in 11-man.’’
“We have always been good on defense,’’ Hendrickson said. “We used to be embarrassed if people scored 20 points on us. Now, if they don’t score 20 points in a half, we felt like we had a good game.’’
Waukomis’ defense has allowed 60 or more points in each of its three games. Claborn, though, said he saw improvement in last week’s loss to Merritt. The Chiefs trailed 36-34 at halftime, but were outscored 24-0 after intermission.
Crites had touchdown runs of 63 and 26 yards and had touchdown passes of 60 and 59 yards to Zach Prince and 11 yards to Riley Williams. The Chiefs rushed for 265 yards and had another 257 in the air. They gave up 531 yards rushing.
“Justus had a great game, but he would be the first one to say the offensive line did a good job and we had three or four guys come up with big catches. He’s a cog in the machine.’’
The two teams match up well, Claborn said. Waukomis has an experience edge in the backfield. Seiling has more size in the line.
Seiling is led by senior running back Brit Shuck, who is playing football for the first time in five years and quarterback Eric Young, whom Hendrickson says “has as much talent as any quarterback that I have had, but doesn’t have much experience.’’
“We have to disrupt their rhythm,’’ Claborn said.
Claborn reports no major injuries.
Waukomis at Seiling
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Records: Waukomis (0-2, 1-2)
Seiling (1-1, 1-2)
Series: Seiling leads 9-4
Last: Seiling won 90-54, 2012