By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
Broken Arrow will begin defense of its Class 6AI state championship when it opens the season later this month at arch rival Union.
Tackle and Oklahoma commit Andrew Raym, guard Trevor Burckhatzmeyer and defensive backs Myles Slusher, an Oregon commit, and Bryce Mattioda, linebacker Campbell Yeager and kicker Tyler Crawford are among the key starters returning.
In an interview with David Alexander last December, the Tigers’ head coach reflected on the joy of winning the title in 2018 after beating Jenks 28-20 in the Class 6AI championship game.
“It was incredible. It is a difficult process. People don’t realize how hard it is to win a state championship and that’s really what has made it more amazing,” Alexander said. “Because it’s not just a coach or a football team that wins a state championship. There has to be a school and community culture.”
The program had played in the state championship when last year’s senior class were freshmen. The Tigers also played Jenks that year, having been dealt a 35-14 loss.
“Going to the game in 2015 helped this team win one,” Alexander said. “They saw what it’s like with what it took to get to the game and how much more effort it was going to take to win it.”
Broken Arrow went through the year unscathed. It was loaded with experience with the likes quarterback Quintevin Cherry, fullbacks Noah Cortes and Kaiser Newell, wide receiver Matt Kaiser, linebackers Zach Marcheselli and Gavin Potter, both D-I players and defensive back Aaron “Trickey” Stokes. It was a solid bunch.
Last year’s team beat Union (33-10) for the first time in a decade, routed 2017 champion Owasso (47-20), beat Jenks (28-13 in the regular season meeting) and a slew of foes from the western side of the state. They found themselves in a more defensive challenge against Owasso in the semifinals (a 10-7 win) before going toe-to-toe with the Trojans in the final at Chapman Stadium on the TU campus.
Jenks scored first which began an exchange of touchdowns between both teams. But after scoring its third TD, BA took the lead for good. An end-zone interception by Slusher sealed the game.
The Tigers had to face adversity when threat of a thunderstorm stopped the game with under five minutes remaining.
But the delay did not come as any surprise to them.
“We knew on Wednesday (of that week) there was going to be a rain delay,” Alexander said. “So we had a pretty good plan. It wasn’t too big of a shock to us. Obviously, two hours is a long time. But, we took some exercise bikes to keep the skill kids warm, we took some heating pads, we took food, we took 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to keep their blood-sugar up. We had our athletic directors keeping all the time, what was going on, with the updates, we let the kids relax and take their shoes and shoulder pads off and then we got a 30-minute call that it was time to go. We starting heating them back up again, getting them ready to go.”
When play resumed, Broken Arrow drove but could not get a first down, which would have allowed them to run the clock out. They punted and the Trojans put together a potential game-tying drive, penetrating the Tigers’ red zone. B.A.’s Slusher made the pick in the end to stop the drive with 20 seconds left, securing the victory.
“You knew in your mind that it was going to come down to the last play of the game,” Alexander said. “This is the state championship and it’s Jenks. Mentally, I was ready for it. As they were driving, we were trying to make adjustments, trying to make a play, trying to get a pass rush, all that stuff you have to do on defense. One of our best players, Miles Slusher, makes a play at the goal line. Obviously, it was pandemonium on the sideline when he picked off that pass in the end zone.”
Alexander got plenty of props from places far and beyond.
“Oh yeah. I’ve heard from people all over the country. I’ve heard from some of the old (Philadelphia) Eagle teammates (where Alexander played during his NFL career), I heard from Broken Arrow graduates going all the way back to the 1950s, it’s been quite an exciting time,” Alexander said.
“We had a great group. You could tell, by being around them the last few months, it was a special group and I told everyone in the summer that we had a group that was not only physically talented to do it, but also, I thought they were mentally ready to get over the hump and win it,” Alexander added.
Tiger Quick Hits
Fans will notice an increase of light at Broken Arrow High School Memorial Stadium this fall. There are new four-pole LED light units have been installed to replace older Halogen sets.