Increased earthquake activity continues to be felt around Oklahoma with four more quakes reported Saturday morning as people scramble to find explanations for the recent activity. Is it fracking? Is it some other geological explanation? Maybe. Or maybe it’s a result of the seismic shift in the prep football landscape taking place in 2A football this season, with its epicenter located in the north part of Enid. Well, it’s as plausible as any explanation.
The long downtrodden Chisholm Longhorns have been shaking things up all season, and clinched a playoff spot Friday night with their 34-13 win over Newkirk. What’s more, as of now, with one game left, they are the No. 2 seed in District 2A-1, which means not only are they in the playoffs, but could very likely host a first-round playoff game, especially if they take care of business in their finale at home against Tonkawa on Nov. 8.
Seriously, did anybody outside of the hardcore Longhorns’ followers, of which there are now several more, see this coming? Even coming off last season’s 5-5 mark, a rare non-losing season in the past decade of Chisholm football, it’s doubtful anybody realistically envisioned Chisholm sitting at 8-1 and powering past opponents with as much ease as they have done in the past few weeks.
But Chisholm head coach Joey Reinart actually saw the progress going back to the Longhorns’ 1-9 season in 2011.
“I think the kids last year saw the progress we made the year before (in 2011),” Chisholm head coach Joey Reinart told the News & Eagle for its preseason “Kickoff’ publication previewing the Longhorns’ 2013 season. “We were 1-9, but there was definite progress — it wasn’t 60-0 at halftime and those types of things we went through (during an 0-10 season in 2010).”
He was right.
Time was that 40- or 50-point losses were common at Chisholm. Now, they are the ones delivering the beatdowns. Over the past four weeks, Chisholm has defeated Crooked Oak 54-21, beat Perry 40-12, hammered Pawnee 49-7 and then whipped Newkirk 34-13. Their only loss this season was a late, heartbreaking 21-20 loss to perennial 2A power Hennessey on the road.
As Enid News & Eagle sports reporter Ryan Costello notes in his excellent “Eagle Varsity” preps blog (www.enidnews.com/eagle varsity), the Longhorns, even with their 5-5 record last season, came into the season averaging about three wins per season over the past decade. And that one winning season in 2002 – also the last time the Longhorns made the playoffs – still was surrounded by 14 non-winning campaigns.
Of course the turnaround doesn’t happen by accident and without an infusion of talent. Reinart deserves credit for hanging in there after going 4-26 in his first three seasons and convincing this year’s Longhorns that they have what it takes, but there also has been some very heady play happening this season.
CHS quarterback Taggart Brown has been having an All-District type season, passing for 1,440 yards and 15 touchdowns, offsetting opposing defense’s efforts to stop running back Bryce Stewart who also is having an awards-worthy season, gashing opposing defenses to the tune of rushing for 1,004 yards and 14 touchdowns.
But, maybe the best indication of what this season means was summed up in one simple sentence by junior tight end Karsten Brady. “That was pretty fun,” Brady said after Chisholm’s win over Pawnee on Oct. 25 when he caught three touchdown passes.
In the not too distant past, the best thing about Chisholm football’s season was the knowledge it would end. Now, with things on a serious upswing, players and fans want to keep the season going and with the way they are playing, a deep run into the playoffs is not an unrealistic expectation, indeed representing a seismic shift that would register pretty high on the Richter scale.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com.