ENID, Okla. —
“Okeene thinks they’re down, but I don’t see that on film,’’ said Oklahoma Bible Academy football coach Mark Boyd, whose 1-5 Trojans face the 3-3 Whippets Friday in a District A-1 battle.
The Whippets, though not in their familiar spot in the Associated Press top 10, have been looking like the old Okeene lately.
Coach Jeff Wardlaw’s crew have back-to-back 300-yard plus rushing games in wins over Hooker (40-26) and Turpin (55-0). They forced four turnovers against Turpin after having only two in the first five games of the season.
“I think the last two weeks have helped our morale,’’ Wardlaw said. “I felt like in some of our losses that we played better than the score indicated. We just didn’t finish. Some of that comes from us being very young (only one senior has been playing).’’
Okeene’s three losses have all come against 6-0 teams — No. 3 Thomas, No. 5 Cashion and No. 12 Fairview.
Wardlaw has seen some rebuilding in a year where Okeene returned only three offensive and two defensive starters. The Whippets only suited up 19 players against Fairview.
Wardlaw said a difficult schedule helped the Whippets mature, but was concerned about the team getting beaten down and losing confidence.
“We had to keep fighting to get better,’’ he said. “The win against Hooker came at a good time. If we hadn’t won that game, it might have been hard to keep our focus. We had to play well to win that game. It showed us as coaches that we’re not ready to be done yet.’’
Running back Trent Turner, the team’s current lone senior starter, has been a good leader, Wardlaw said. But he pointed out it’s “a lot easier when you have five to 10 seniors the younger kids can look up to.’’
“Our juniors and sophomores have realized they have to step up,’’ Wardlaw said. “They are no longer juniors and sophomores. They had a higher learning curve than most of our young players have had to go through in the past.’’
Junior quarterback Scott Dobrinski, in his first year as a starter, has rushed for eight touchdowns and thrown for seven more this season.
“He’s getting better each week,’’ Wardlaw said. “He makes good decisions with the football, and makes plays with his feet. It’s not a surprise he’s playing well, but it’s a pleasant surprise about how quickly he’s improved.’’
Dobrinski was part of a well-publicized quadruplets. Brothers Mike is a wide receiver with one touchdown catch while Jamie is a 225-pound defensive tackle.
“It’s good thing we have those three or our numbers would have really been down,’’ Wardlaw said with a laugh.
Wardlaw said the low roster numbers were one reason for the slow start. Normally, Wardlaw has been able to rotate a number of players, but not so much this season. He admitted the Whippets were “wore out’’ against Fairview trying to chase talented quarterback Grant Nightengale.
Senior guard Garrett Lorenz, who suffered a concussion in the preseason, could be back Friday.
Wardlaw said he has been pleased with the development of Okeene’s offensive line.
“I knew if we could develop an offensive line that could be consistent, we could be a playoff team,’’ he said. “We have to move some kids around and it took us a few games to get settled.’’
Okeene is 2-1 in district with games left against OBA (1-2), Beaver (0-3), Texhoma (3-0) and Mooreland (2-1).
Turner (six touchdowns) and Chance Bedwell (seven touchdowns) have given Okeene a solid 1-2 punch. Both can run with power. Bedwell is a little quicker. Turner is a little bigger.
“Both of them aren’t afraid to lower their shoulder,’’ Wardlaw said. “They basically have the same qualities, but they hit the hole differently.’’
Tight end-defensive end Hunter Miles, a 6-foot-8, 190-pounder, has had high marks both as a defender and a blocker.
Wardlaw calls OBA “similar’’ to Okeene in that they have shown improvement each week and rely heavily on young players.
“Our defense will need to come play and create some havoc and force some things,’’ Wardlaw said. “Our offense has to take care of the ball (Okeene has only five turnovers this year) and keep it out of their hands as much as possible.’’
OBA is coming off a 54-6 loss to No. 4 Texhoma. The Trojans trailed 19-0 at halftime, only to see the Red Devils score 28 points in the third period.
“I think we made them mad,’’ Boyd said. “They felt like they weren’t as focused as they should have been. They came out focused in the third period and they were just too much for us.’’
Boyd said he was proud of the Trojans’ effort.
“To the kids’ credit, they have kept their focus,’’ he said. “They haven’t given up. They know their backs are against the wall, but they are competing hard and that’s all I can ask of them.’’
OBA was “pretty banged up’’ after the game, but Boyd expects everyone to play.
Sophomore Preston Atwood will start at quarterback, but freshman Baylor Boyd should see action, coach Boyd said.
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OKEENE AT OBA
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday at OBA
Records: Okeene, 3-3, 2-1, district; OBA, 1-5, 1-2, district.
Series: Okeene leads 2-1
Last meeting: Okeene won 34-7, 2010 playoffs