By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Previously, we looked back on how the Owasso football program has taken off under the leadership of legendary coach Bill Blankenship, who turned Union into the power it is today and followed up with success at the University of Tulsa and Fayetteville (Ark.) High School.
Blankenship was hired by Owasso in January 2017. Since then, the Rams have captured two of the last three Class 6AI state championships.
Here, we will look back at the first state title team in Blankenship’s debut season with the program.
As mentioned before, Owasso won only three games the previous year despite having a crop of talent. In the two decades before Blankenship took over, the program had its share of competitive teams. But like other programs, it could not overcome the dominance of rivals Jenks and Union in the highest classification of Oklahoma high school football. The Rams were also on the short end often in games against Broken Arrow, another rival.
It would be a different scene in 2017 as Owasso would go a combined 4-1 against their rivals.
Josh Proctor, one of the Rams’ defensive stars from that team who is now at Ohio State, predicted in an interview that summer that the team would have a big year. They would back it up in the season opener at Jenks while launching a season that exceeded expectations made by the media.
New stars emerged that night as Owasso stunned the Trojans 48-10.
There was quarterback Will Kuehne (now at North Texas), a move-in from Texas and the son of Trip Kuehne, who played golf at Oklahoma State. There was also running back Bryce Cabrera, wide receivers Tyrese Sisson, Dylan Chinn and Sam Thompson, linebacker Carson Kropp (now at Oklahoma State), defensive lineman Hilton Moseby, defensive end Courtre Alexander and defensive backs Wayne Jones (now at Kansas State) and Dawson Adams.
In the opener against Jenks, the Rams went on defense first and forced the Trojans to a 3-and-out that included a quarterback sack.
When it first touched the ball, Kuehne hit Sisson for a 25-yard touchdown. The PAT was missed and Owasso was up 6-0.
Jenks countered with a TD and had its only lead of the night after making the extra point.
Cabrera would score a nine-yard TD to put Owasso back on top for good. Jenks later added a field goal, trimming the Rams lead to three points, but it would not score again.
With Owasso leading by 17, Jenks had goal to go and was trying to reduce the deficit to 10. But an interception by Proctor was taken back 100 yards and instead of a 27-17 game, it was 34-10 at halftime.
In an interview with Jones the following week, he talked about the Rams’ execution of the game-plan, how highly-confident they were and how the team was looking ahead to Bartlesville, their next opponent.
The Rams rolled over the Bruins, 56-14.
Then came its home opener against Broken Arrow. There would be an exchange of TDs and a pair of ties early, but the Rams rocked BA, 49-27. Turnovers by BA set up Ram TDs that padded the lead later in the game. That included an interception of a halfback pass by Jones in the end zone.
An off week followed. Then came an offensive shootout with Mustang, in which the Rams came out on top, 63-41.
Then came a classic battle against Union, the state champion from the previous year.
Owasso dominated Union early with a 20-6 advantage. The Redskins would come back to win, 44-41, in overtime, giving the Rams their only loss of the year.
Owasso cruised through the remainder of the regular season with convincing wins against Putnam City North (55-10), Southmoore (48-2), Norman North (60-28), Moore (52-6) and Edmond North (42-14).
Because of the loss to Union, however, Owasso had to settle for the second seed in District 6AI-2 for the playoffs. In the first round, it conquered Westmoore (37-16), then faced Jenks again in the state semifinals. The Rams shut out the Trojans 21-0 and a rematch against Union was set up in the 6AI state championship game.
Owasso would avenge the early season loss and was crowned state champion for the first time in 43 years.
In the game, the Rams struck first on their first possession as Cabrera scored on a two-yard run. Kuehne made a pair of one-yard TDs, including one to start the third quarter.
An interception by Adams at the goal line in the final minute clinched a 21-14 win for Owasso and the 21-year championship hold by Union or Jenks in the state’s highest class came to an end.
With Owasso being the designated home team, Ram fans sat in the west stands of Chapman Stadium on the University of Tulsa campus. When the game was over, they flooded the field to celebrate with their team.