Courtesy Owasso High School Athletic Department
It was not a year to remember for Owasso last season as it finished 4-5, marking its second below .500 season in three years. The Rams hope to turn that around in 2016 as they welcome back an abundance of experience.
“We had a down year,” Owasso coach Bill Patterson says. “We really did. Very disappointing at five losses. I felt we got legitimately beat one time. But in the rest of those defeats, I felt like we had contributed to losing the game more than the other team beating us.”
Owasso is being projected for a fifth place finish in District 6AI-2 by VYPE Magazine. That would mean no postseason if that prediction comes true. That is not in the Rams’ plan.
“When you don’t make the playoffs, it causes you to look and evaluate everything you do,” Patterson says. “We’ve made some changes in our program and on the way we practice. We structured some things and took a real hard look at where our players need to be to help us. I feel like that type of reflection in the offseason gives us a better chance to have the type of year we come to expect here.”
Troy Hudson (6-1, 190, senior) returns to quarterback the offense. He threw for over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns in 2015. He also ran for 268 yards on 48 rushes. He’ll have wide receivers Jake Enzbrenner (6-0, 185, senior), Jaylen Johnson (6-1, 190, senior) and tight end Ethan Garner (6-5, 270, senior) to throw to.
Bryce Cabrera (junior) and Fard Colbert (5-4, 170, senior) will be operating out of the backfield.
“(Cabrera) has had a real good summer and preseason at running back and we like his ability,” Patterson says. “(Colbert) is a small back, but he’s very strong, explosive and hard to find in there.”
Three starters return up front – Russell Baker (6-4, 275, junior) at left tackle, Conner McAlester (5-11, 205) at center and Jason Bell (6-4, 280, junior), who is being moved from guard to tackle on the right side of the line.
“Those guys have done a good job leading,” Patterson says. “And we actually got a lot of depth and some pretty good competition in our offensive line.”
On defense, Connor Haff (6-4, 275, senior) and Alex Reedy (6-1, 255, senior) return to the line. Billy Fields (5-11, 205, senior) is back at linebacker. Three more starters return to the secondary – cornerback Athanie Leeviramphan (5-11, 180, senior) and safeties Wayne Jones (6-1, 195, junior) and Josh Proctor (6-3, 190, junior).
Owasso opened up the season on Aug. 26 in what is becoming known as “zero” week, when it met Jenks, the defending Class 6AI state champion at home.
“It’s obviously an exciting challenge,” Patterson says two weeks before the game. “It’s a new experience for us. I’ve talked to the other three coaches of the big schools in the Tulsa area (Jenks, Union and Broken Arrow) and they’ve all says the same thing – that we open up the first game with one less week of preparation.”
Playing Jenks will get the Rams fired up. But opening up in the last week of August will be something different.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever done it (opening in late August),” Patterson says
“You’re extremely concerned with conditioning going into your first game because obviously you would expect for heat to be a factor on Aug. 26,” Patterson says. “That really made it important for our players to be committed to our summer program.”
While Jenks and Owasso battled, Broken Arrow and Union were playing games in Texas in zero week.
The Rams remain at home in the first week of September against Bartlesville, then comes a trip to Broken Arrow, the state runner-up, followed by an off week before opening district play at Mustang on Sept. 23. Owasso then returns home to meet Union on Sept. 30.
Putnam City North, Southmoore, Norman North, Moore and Edmond North, who are expected to be improved, are on the remainder of the schedule.
“We don’t have any breathers on our schedule,” Patterson says. “So we’re going to have to be ready to play every week, and we have to avoid the injury bug.”