By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Another state football championship trophy is in the books for Jenks. The Trojans captured the 2021 Class 6AI title Dec. 4 with a 30-15 win over rival Union at Chad Richison Stadium on the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond.
Senior linebacker Ethan Bilgrein (6-0, 204) contributed to the win leading the team with 11 tackles in the game.
“It felt amazing” Bilgrein said. “Especially to do it a second time. But I think what made it really special, it was my senior year and it was the last time I was going to be with those guys and it ended on a really good note.”
Jenks also won state last year, meaning back-to-back championships for the program. It is also the 15th title in 26 seasons and 18th overall in school history.
Bilgrein credits his performance to his teammates and coaches.
“It is definitely not just me,” he said. “The key to that is just the whole defense. Especially (defensive coordinator) Coach (Adam) Gaylor for setting up the game plan for us to make tackles and put us in the right position and the big guys on the line, taking double teams, playing their hearts out so I can get one shot at the running back.”
Junior running back Jaiden Carroll (5-9, 175) led Jenks on the offense. He rushed for 147 yards on 27 carries. Fellow back Jalyn Stanford ran for 100 yards on eight handoffs.
The rival Redhawks scored the first two touchdowns, jumping out to a 15-0 lead in the first quarter.
“There was a little bit of frustration at first,” Bilgrein said. “A lot of emotion was being thrown around everywhere, but when we went back to sit on the bench, Coach Gaylor gave us a speech and it was the calmest I’ve ever seen him. He told us ‘We’ve been here. It’s no problem. We just got to play Trojan defense and we’ll be fine.’ And that just calmed us all down and we went out there and played our game.”
By playing their game, Jenks never yielded another point to Union. Freshman quarterback Shaker Reisig (5-11, 183) scored on a 26-yard run to cut the deficit to 15-7 before halftime. Reisig added another TD from one yard in the third quarter, but a failed two-point conversion still kept Union in front.
Jenks took the lead for good as senior Glenver, also known as Glenny, Jones (5-8, 142) recovered a fumble in the end zone on offense, making it 20-15 before the quarter ended.
In the last period, senior Max Pakvan (6-2, 180) booted a 26-yard field goal, then junior defensive back Ty Walls (6-0, 167) put a stamp on it with a 31-yard return of a pick-six.
Stopping the long passes was a key for the defense to shut Union out the rest of the game, Bilgrein said.
“We knew they weren’t going to be able to drive the ball all the way downfield,” he said. “They were going to make some mistakes and they did. Everytime they drove the ball, they threw a pick, they did something. After those first two plays, we just knew we had to stop long balls and we played our game.”
Beating the Redhawks in the final made winning the championship more memorable.
“That rivalry definitely makes it a lot more special of a game,” Bilgrein said. “Just the hype behind it and everything. It made everything around it special.
“We grew up watching these backyard bowls (which the rivalry is known as) at these big stadiums like at TU. We grow up and it’s kind of like a rivalry around here that is well known,” he added.
Bilgrein is grateful that he has become a part of the Trojan football legacy.
“It is a huge part of my life,” he said. “I’ve played football for Jenks since I was 10 years old and it’s crazy that it’s over. It feels like it went by within a snap of a finger. It is definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, especially to go out there and win two state championships and two get pictures on the wall. It is something I’ll remember.”