Two-Way Star Noah Hernandez Ready for Season

GTR Sports Writer

TROJAN STRENGTH: Jenks running back Noah Hernandez curls a dumbbell during an offseason workout at the Trojans’ gym last month. Hernandez said the Trojans are in great shape heading into the 2018 football season. 

MIKE MOGUIN for GTR Newspapers

Ask Noah Hernandez what would best describe him as a running back and he makes it clear.

“Pretty hard-nosed. I usually don’t try to make any cuts. I like to just run through you,” he said, laughing.

This Jenks standout has been a factor in the Trojans’ rushing attack shining in a memorable debut against Bixby as a freshman.

Last year, as a junior, after missing the first two games, he logged 564 yards and seven touchdowns on 74 carries. Heading into his senior campaign at 5-10 and 190 pounds, he’s expected to carry the load.

But, Hernandez understands the work doesn’t come solely from him.

“It all comes down to the fact that the offensive line is a major key to a running back’s success,” Hernandez said. “So, I give huge kudos to our offensive line.”

A two-way starter, Hernandez also plays linebacker.

“I’ve played both for a long time,” he said. “At running back, I like to score touchdowns and run the ball. At the same time, I like to play the defensive side of the ball. You get to hit people and fly around.”

Last year, Hernandez forced 60 tackles on defense. In 2016, he had 103 tackles, four sacks and four takeaways.

Hernandez is also a weapon on the Trojans’ special teams. He returned a kickoff 83 yards for a TD last season.

The brotherhood involved in the game is what he enjoys most about the gridiron.
“When we go out on a Friday night, you know that the guy battling next to you has your back no matter what and you have his. That’s what I like about it,” Hernandez said.  

Like every other Jenks Trojan, Hernandez will be undergoing a transition this season with a new coach. The legendary Allan Trimble retired during the offseason due to complications of . Keith Riggs, a member of the Trojan coaching staff since 2003, was promoted to head coach less than a month after Trimble announced his retirement.

“We knew it was coming soon. It was really sad in the community, but, obviously, we want the best for Coach Trimble,” Hernandez said.

“He’ll definitely be missed,” the Jenks running back added. “But, I kind of like how we got Coach Riggs in there as a head coach because he has been here a long time and knows how things are done here at Jenks. So, we just kept everything the same, and his (Trimble) legacy will live on. Just a new change, but, everything should be fine with Coach Riggs.”

The Trojans had to overcome adversity last season after their first 0-4 start the program had in decades.

“It was really hard because you grow up in the Jenks system and you see teams that go undefeated and you see teams that win state four years in a row,” Hernandez said. “It’s hard, especially when you come out 0-4 and you have the media and everybody in your ear saying that ‘this hasn’t happened in so many years.’ But we had to keep our head up and work and get through that. We knew that if we kept working, we could get to where we want to be. We learned a lesson from it — just to battle through and not give up on anything because at the end of the day, we know what our goal is at the end of the season every year.”

The Trojans reeled off seven straight wins before being eliminated in the Class 6AI semifinals. They have only one goal for 2018.

“Gold Ball,” Hernandez said.

A state championship would be Jenks’ first since 2015.

“It’s (offseason training) been going awesome. We’re getting into shape. All of us are probably in the best shape of our lives right now. As a team, we’re looking good,” Hernandez said.

As usual, Union and Broken Arrow are perceived as the toughest foes for Jenks on the schedule, Hernandez said.  

“Union is always a competitor for us,” he added. “It’s the rivalry that everybody wants to see. In Jenks-Union, you’re going to get the best effort.”

Not on the Trojans’ schedule is Owasso, last year’s state champion, that broke the Jenks-Union stronghold that stood 21 years on the state’s largest classification. Jenks would like it if that was different.

“Yes (Trojans wish Owasso was on the schedule),” Hernandez said. “Especially after last year how things played out at the end of the season. We hope to see them again this year in the playoffs.”

Being accustomed to having the upper hand in the series, Jenks was stunned by the Rams twice last year, losing 48-10 in the regular season opener and 21-0 in the postseason.

The Trojans open the season at 6AII runner-up Bixby on Aug. 24, then host Mansfield (Texas) Legacy Aug. 31. The annual matchup with Union follows on Sept. 7 at TU’s Chapman Stadium.

After a week off, a visit to Broken Arrow will be made on Sept. 21. Then comes a home date with Enid on Sept. 28. The rest of the season consists of opponents from the Oklahoma City suburbs.  

Updated 08-14-2018

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