By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Joining the Jenks football family has been a joyful experience for linebacker Tyson Ward.
Ward, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior, came to the program last spring after his family moved to the Jenks district. He had previously been at Lincoln Christian.
“I transferred here to play 6A football. I always think of Jenks as one of the best,” Ward said.
“Everyone welcomed me right when I came and we’ve been working really hard since the offseason. This has been great, It is exactly what I expected it to be,” Ward added.
When done with sports, Ward plans to seek a career as a lawyer or a dentist.
But for now, he is hoping to lead the Trojans to another run at a state championship.
Ward has always played inside linebacker on defense.
“I like hitting. It goes great for my position. I just like hitting people a lot,” he said.
When at Lincoln Christian, Ward also played fullback on offense, which, he said, has similarities to playing linebacker.
“You do hit someone on every play most of the time. Sometimes you get the ball if you are lucky, but you usually block a lot,” Ward said.
But at Jenks, he play exclusively on defense.
Having the right mindset is what it takes to be successful as a linebacker,” Ward said.
“You have to know that you’re going to hit someone every play,” he adds. “You just have to know, get ready to get hit and be hit. If you don’t go 100 percent every play, you’re going to be on your butt, especially for someone my size because I’m not huge compared to other kids. If I don’t go hard every play, then it won’t go well for me.”
His most memorable play came against Union on Sept. 13, but it didn’t go as well as it originally appeared.
“In the Union game, I got a pick-six, but sadly, we got a block in the back on the same play. It got called back, but the interception still counted,” Ward said.
Unfortunately, Jenks was faced with overcoming a 1-2 start going into District 6AI-1 play.
The Trojans had won their season opener in 38-0 rout of Mansfield (Texas) Legacy on the road. But they were stunned at home 57-7 by Bixby the following week.
“I think we didn’t have the right mindset in the game. We didn’t come out full effort. Against Mansfield, we were 100 percent going to play hard,” Ward said. “Against Bixby, we came out thinking we were the best. Then we learned from that experience that we go 100 percent now, non stop.”
Then came a 35-20 defeat to arch-rival Union. The Trojans had a 20-7 lead before yielding 28 unanswered points.
“I think we were really good on defense until we let up,” Ward said. “We had five plays of busted coverage. One of them was me, sadly, that allowed the touchdown with about a minute left (in the first half).”
That TD brought Union to within 20-14 before halftime.
“We had momentum and we lost momentum because of that. It was like we shot ourselves in the foot,” Ward said.
The two losses have been learning experiences, Ward said.
“I think we learned a lot on how we play and what we’ve got to do to win because we made more mental errors in our last game,” he said. “I think it’s going to help us in the future for us to win. But we just have to block out what people say because we’re a really good team, we just have to show it.”
Jenks had an off week between the Union game and opening week in district play. Ward believed it benefitted the team because there were players that needed time to heal from injuries. He sees great things for the Trojans in the weeks to come.
Jenks (1-2) headed into the District 6AI-1 season preparing for a home meeting with Broken Arrow (Sept. 27), whom it lost to in last year’s state championship game. The rest of the schedule consists of playing at Enid (Oct. 4), host Yukon (Oct. 11), at Edmond Memorial (Oct. 17), at Norman (Oct. 25) and home games against Edmond Santa Fe (Nov. 1) and Westmoore (Nov. 8).