ANOTHER SUCCESS: Allan Trimble, the successful Jenks head football coach, proudly stands with his quarterback Ian Corwin and another MidFirst Bank Backyard Bowl trophy after the game with Union.
DEAN ATCHISON for GTR Newspapers
New talent rises as Jenks continues its domination at the perch of Oklahoma high school football. The Trojans are showing it in a 3-0 start as of this writing, which includes a 35-28 victory against rival Union in the Backyard Bowl on Sept. 9.
That was a game in which prep football prognosticators were picking Union as the team to beat due to it being a senior-loaded team. But the Trojans, who lost key starters from last year’s state championship to graduation, keep on with their winning ways.
“We just keep reloading,” wide receiver Isaiah Epps says.
Jenks opened the season in zero week rolling to a 41-23 win against Owasso. It followed up with a 38-34 victory over Bixby, last year’s 6A Division II champion. The Trojans rallied from some deficits in that game, which may have served as a good tune-up for the battle with the preseason 6AI favorite Redskins.
“It was a great win,” tight end/defensive lineman Reese Leitao says. “Lots of credit to Union. They gave us a tough fight. We are young team, but we really put it together in the end and got a good victory.
“(Jenks) Coach (Allan) Trimble emphasized throughout the week that they’re going to have a lot more experience and speed,” Leitao says. “But as long as we keep executing on offense, keep the ball longer and give great effort, we’ll come out with the win. I think we did all those keys very well.”
Among the Trojan heroes of the game were Ian Corwin, Jordon Curtis, Rueben Thompson, Brett Standlee, Epps, Leitao and Noah Strong.
Strong made a key interception and later broke up the pass that could have been caught for a Union touchdown and would have tied the game, sending it into overtime.
“We had defensive plays that our coaches designed for us, and we’ve been watching film a lot,” Curtis says. “We just came on and it worked out.”
“They’re (Union) a great team. We’re a great team. We both came out and did our best,” Curtis says.Curtis scored the game-winning TD on a 7-yard run with 1:14 left.
“It was huge,” Curtis says. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. We’re a decent team, and we practiced really hard and tried to come out here and do the best we could.”
Thompson, who returned against Bixby after being out the first game due to an injury, had a TD run that followed a big 59-yard pass play from Corwin to Standlee.
Union took the early 10-0 lead before the Trojans rallied to move out in front before the close of the first quarter. Thompson’s TD made it 14-10 and Jenks, although faced with two ties later, never trailed again.
Epps made an impressive haul on a 67-yard TD immediately after Union tied the game the first time. He did it in one play to lift Jenks to a 28-21 advantage with 2:36 remaining in the third period.
“For the whole game, I had two balls thrown my way,” Epps says. “One was batted down. It was a scramble, so I didn’t get the ball. But I had to be patient on (the 67-yard TD) and knew the ball was coming to me. We had talked about it on the sidelines and that was drawn up. It just worked.”
Jenks’ offensive accomplishments came against a strong Union defense, which had only allowed one touchdown in each of its first two games.
“We have tons of weapons on our offense,” Epps says. “We have arguably three of the best running backs in the state. So we just have to stay ready and be patient and take as many shots as we can when we get the opportunity.”
Leitao, who recently made a verbal commitment to play college ball at Nebraska, made some key catches that kept Trojan drives alive.
“Getting this win against our rivals gives a lot of confidence going into (Springdale, Ark.) Har-Ber (Jenks’ opponent on Sept. 16),” Epps says.
No doubt, it also adds to the Trojans’ confidence for the rest of the season too, as they hope to hoist a state championship trophy for a fifth straight year.
The win marks Jenks fourth straight over the Redskins and seventh in the last eight of the series.