By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Neither an opening night defeat, nor the 97-degree heat of Monday’s practice, have dampened or wilted the spirits of Enid Plainsman Aaron Beagle, one of the team’s top playmakers from last year, who has started off this year in similar fashion.
“We were disappointed,” said Beagle regarding Enid’s 41-28 loss to open the season Friday at Choctaw. “It was a big disappointment. We went in there I think a little too loose and weren’t taking them as seriously as we should have, and they surprised us a bit. We started coming back (tying the game 28-28 after falling behind 28-7), but it was just too late.
“We wanted to start 1-0, but we’ll bounce back.”
One of the first steps in bouncing back was being taken Monday as the Plainsmen began working in some new schemes as they prepare for Friday’s road opponent, Edmond Memorial. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 13-0 win over Edmond North and likely will be looking to avenge last season’s 19-14 loss to Enid.
It’s not likely the Plainsmen will be looking past Memorial, which possesses one of the state’s top running backs in Warren Wand, who rushed for over 1,800 yards last season.
“The coaches told us not to get our heads down because we did play a good second half,” Beagle said.
It also doesn’t seem to be in Beagle’s nature to hang his head about a loss, but rather to get right back at it.
Now in his third year on the varsity team, Beagle, who plays both wide receiver and cornerback, has some lofty goals for himself and the team.
“My personal goal since sophomore year is to not drop a pass,” he said. “My sophomore year, I dropped a couple and last year I dropped two or three.”
The drops were definitely the exceptions for the senior, who was second on the team with three interceptions and a team-leading four touchdown receptions in 2012.
His sure-handed abilities were on display in Monday’s practice as he corralled several passes and picked off a couple more.
He also picked up where he left off last season with an end zone pick against Choctaw and then pounced on a loose ball for a touchdown.
But Beagle was modest in describing the key plays.
“I was kind of surprised he (Choctaw quarterback Jonah Llunas) threw it up and on the inside and I just took off for it. On the (fumble), I was just there at the right time, I couldn’t have gotten any luckier.”
The slightly undersized senior (5-9, 160) said the key for him defensively is watching the quarterback.
“I watch the quarterback’s eyes and peak at the receiver and whatever route he is running,” he said. “If I see the quarterback is ready to throw, I just react as fast as I can.”
However, while Beagle said he is comfortable at cornerback, he felt wide receiver was his best position overall.
He also knows as a senior he is looked to as one of the leaders on the squad.
“I lead by example most often,” Beagle said. “I’m kind of a rah-rah guy, but not much. I try to go hard and make big plays and have guys feed off what I try to do.”
However, he is not bashful about offering words of encouragement, such as to Enid junior quarterback Freddy Lawrence.
“I told Freddy (after the Choctaw game), ‘hey it’s your first game ever playing varsity and you are playing the hardest position on the field at quarterback. Maybe the first game didn’t turn out the way you wanted, but you still played good (21 of 31 passing for 245 yards) and keep your head up.’”
Beagle believes this team has the components to achieve his other primary goal, and that is to make the playoffs.
“I want to get to the playoffs, that’s definitely the thing I want to do,” he said. “I want to feel that feeling of victory.”
He said the team knows that the playoff push begins in earnest in Week 4 when district play begins (Enid’s first district game is Sept. 27 vs. Bartlesville).
“Once we get to playing our best football by Week 4, there will be a huge difference from Week 1 to Week 4, I guarantee that,” he said. “We have a bunch of good kids and leaders. Of course, we want to win all of our games the rest of the way.”
And if commitment can lead to more wins, Beagle certainly has that covered.
“Football is my only sport that I play other than track,” he said.
During the preseason the senior was up each day at the fieldhouse by 6:20 a.m. and from 7-noon during two-a-days. “This (Selby Stadium) is our second home, no first actually,” he said.
He gets motivation from his family as well. “Me and my dad play catch every single night,” he said, adding his priorities are to be a son to his mom and dad and a student-athlete.
“I have some senioritis right now, but am working through that,” said Beagle, whose favorite subject is physiology. He hopes to go to college to become a sports therapist.
He would like to get into college on a football scholarship if possible.
“I definitely want to play college ball,” he said. “I would love to play Division 1, but Division 2 may be more like it.”
His biggest motivation is to not let up in his senior year as he looks ahead.
“I don’t want to let my team down,” he said. “I don’t want my team or coaches to ever think, ‘wow, he could have (given) more.’ I don’t want anybody to say ‘he had a good junior year, but in his senior he slumped down,’ I don’t want that.”
From early indications, that does not appear to be an issue.