HELENA — What’s better than having your alma mater’s stadium being named after you?
Leading your alma mater to the state championship game.
That’s the scenario for Timberlake coach Brian Severin, who has had the distinction of both playing in (1980) and coaching in (1999) a state championship game. His 12-0 Tigers face 10-2 Tyrone at 2 p.m. Saturday for the Class C state title at Ranger Field on the Northwestern Oklahoma State campus in Alva.
“I’ve been here my whole life and my wife and I have put in a lot of time and sweat and tears,’’ said Severin, the only coach Timberlake has known in its 28-year history. “It means a lot more being my hometown. A lot of the kids I’m coaching now, I coached their dads. That’s a special thing. It’s fun to be back in the finals. The community is real excited.’’
Timberlake named its stadium named after him in ceremonies in mid-season.
“That was a really big honor and very humbling for me,’’ Severin said. “I would never expect that. This is a very tight knit community that loves their football. Both Helena-Goltry and Jet-Nash (which consolidated into Timberlake) have carried on that tradition. They are football smart here. It makes it easy for a coach to do what you need to do to be successful.’’
Timberlake has been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll all season.
The Tigers had only one game they didn’t win by at least 20 points — 54-48 over Covington-Douglas on Aug. 27. They had the second and third lowest games the last two weeks — 50-30 over Waynoka and 38-12 over Buffalo.
Timberlake was built for 8-man emphasizing speed over size with 29 touchdowns coming on plays of 30 or more yards, including two last week — a 52-yard pass from Ethan Jenlink to J.J. Pippin and a 60-yard pass from Jenlink to Merric Judd.
“All of our guys are quick and athletic,’’ Severin said. “Our guards and centers can run and catch. Every team that we have played has been bigger than us. We don’t look the part, but the kids can play. This bunch is very competitive. Football has never been a chore or a job. They like going to practice. It’s been a joy to be around them.’’
One area of concern may be the availability of Pippin, who has scored 30 touchdowns this season. Pippin is questionable after hurting his ankle last week following a horse collar tackle.
Severin texted on Wednesday that Pippin “is really sore, don’t know how much he’s going to be able to play Saturday.”
Jenlink has thrown for 31 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Dylan Schlup and Dalton Leirerer both have 10 TDs. Jenlink has run for five more scores. Judd has scored 23 touchdowns.
“We have had more explosiveness than we have had in the past,’’ Severin said. “Ethan Jenlink can throw the ball and we have more than one kid that can make the plays.’’
Severin also praised junior end Jacob Diller for his blocking.
“He was going against a 6-foot-5, 270-pound kid and he did a really good job,’’ Severin said. “He’s not a big kid, but he put on his chinstrap and got right in the middle of it.’’
Tyrone is averaging 56.1 points per game and is coming off three 60-point plus games in the playoffs — 61-6 over Fox, 68-48 over Midway; and 60-32 over Mountain View-Gotebo.
“They are very athletic,’’ Severin said. “They remind me of us. They have several kids with a lot of speed and we will have to play good defense. We played good defense against Buffalo, but we will have to limit the big plays.’’
Rylan Johnson rushed for 236 yards on 36 carries for a 6.6 average and six touchdowns against Mountain View, which ended the season ranked No. 2 in Class C.
“He’s a real compact back that runs hard and is fast,’’ Severin said.
Quarterback Kobie Williams was four of seven passing for 68 yards and one touchdown last week. Tight end Roberto Hernandez can be a dominant target at 6-foot-5.
“I hope it’s not a high scoring game,’’ Severin said, “but it could be because they have a lot of playmakers.’
Timberlake has allowed only two plays of 30 or more yards — an 80-yard kickoff return by Waukomis’ Ricky Woodruff and a 65-yard pass from Medford’s Isaac Koehn to Drake McMillan.
Timberlake’s defense has limited opponents to negative yards rushing in five games and three others where they held an opponent under 60 yards.
They have had 19 interceptions (including three by Judd last week) and have recovered 11 fumbles. They have turned the ball over only eight times. They have had only one turnover (an interception) the last four games.
“Our defensive backs feel like they are good enough that if they are going to throw it, they are going to get it,’’ Severin said. “They have a lot of playmakers.’’
Timberlake and Tyrone were district opponents in C-1 for four years (2016-19). The Bobcats are the Tigers’ third straight C-1 foe in the playoffs. Timberlake won last year’s game, 54-6 with the Bobcats’ lone score coming on a 65-yard pass interception by Williams.
Timberlake had 270 yards rushing and 268 passing in that contest. Jenlink threw for three scores.
Tyrone runs a 3-2 defensive alignment. The Bobcats aren’t big “but get to the play real quick,’’ Severin said.
Severin one key will be cutting down on penalties (six for 55 yards last week).
“We’re having too many penalties,’’ he said. “Some of those aren’t that bad. A lot of the aggressive type. We do seem to get a lot of those.’’
The Tigers are accustomed to artificial turf having played at Southwestern Oklahoma State in the playoffs in the past.
“It makes you feel faster,’’ Severin said, “but it’s not going to change anything.’’
The Tigers are treating the game just like any other, Severin said. He said having another day to prepare is a plus.
“The kids have been able to put it in perspective,’’ Severin said. “We have stressed we haven’t accomplished our goals yet. We are doing the same stuff. It’s fun and exciting, but we’re not done yet. What needs to be done, needs to be done.’’
There will be no crowd restrictions, but all fans will be required to wear a mask.
The game can be heard locally on KXLS (95.7 FM) and KWOX (101.1 FM) out of Woodward.
Enid News & Eagle sports editor Dave Ruthenberg also contributed to this report.