By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Mario Kirby is among many weapons in Owasso’s offensive firepower and has definitely impacted the Rams in their 3-0 start and takeover of the No. 1 spot in Class 6AI.
Kirby, a 6’2′, 225-pound senior who alternates between halfback and tight end, scored a touchdown in each game during the non-district season.
In the season opener at Bentonville (Ark.), he caught a 27-yard TD pass from quarterback Cole Duggar that brought the Rams to within one point in the first half. Owasso went on to win that game, 47-34, as he finished with 136 yards receiving on six catches.
At home one week later against Fayetteville (Ark.), he caught a 54-yard TD that helped the Rams regain momentum, giving them a 34-16 lead.
“I acted like I was blocking so they wouldn’t come down on me,” Kirby said. “It popped up for me to catch the ball and take off.”
Needless to say, both scores were his most memorable moments of each game, he said.
They went on to win over Fayetteville, 51-19.
“It’s great compared to last year where we lost this game,” Kirby said. Owasso lost to the Bulldogs 45-31 last season. “Coming in and winning this has really shown that we changed a lot.
“It makes it more special because that’s where (Owasso coach Bill Blankenship) came from to coach us,” he added. Blankenship coached Fayetteville to Class 7A state title in Arkansas in 2016 before coming to Owasso, leading the Rams to the 6AI title in Oklahoma one year later.
Then came the game that moved Owasso from No. 2 to No. 1, as they stunned the 2018 state champion Broken Arrow 42-19 in the Tigers’ den.
The week before, which was after the Fayetteville game, Kirby pointed out how the team still had pain from losing twice to B.A. last year – both in regular season and in the state semifinals.
“We’re definitely going to compete against B.A., especially after last year. It sticks in our mind,” he said.
And they proved more than that.
Kirby caught a 49-yard TD pass against the Tigers that put Owasso on top 21-17, and for good in the third quarter. That was the beginning of the Rams turning a close game into a rout.
What Kirby likes about his positions is pretty simple.
“At h-back, I get to smash people inside and at wide receiver, I get to catch the ball and act fast,” he said.
What does he like about the game of football?
“Being competitive. I like to compete,” Kirby said.
Also a member of the Rams’ lacrosse team, he sees himself as an aggressive athlete.
When it comes to having a favorite tight end, Kirby likes Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots standout, a three-time Super Bowl champion who recently retired.
“He is just aggressive and nobody expects him to run fast because they think he is too big,” Kirby said.
Kirby has plans to play college football, but is still deciding where he will play.
He has offers from Abilene Christian, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, UCO and East Central.
In the meantime, he and the rest of his Ram teammates are seeking to win a state championship for the second time in three years.