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Wednesday, November 28, 2012
OU commits eyeing state championships

By Bob Przybylo

Late November and early December doesn’t just represent the end of the college football regular season. High school seasons are coming to an end, too. But several Oklahoma commits and offers are looking to go out with a bang.

Four OU commits are playing for their respective state championship this weekend.

Jordan Smallwood
Jenks, led by OU commit Jordan Smallwood, is looking for its first state title since 2007.
Oklahoma Class 6A championship: Jenks, Okla. (11-2), vs. Norman (Okla.) North (12-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Oklahoma State’s Boone Pickens Stadium.

Jenks, featuring OU wide receiver commit Jordan Smallwood and 2014 safety offer Steven Parker, is looking for its first gold ball since 2007.

Norman North, featuring OU's newest defensive commit Jordan Evans, is in its first ever state championship game and had never been in the semifinals before this season.

“This was a goal for us from the beginning. Everybody in our locker room believed it,” Evans said. “We were all in. But even though we believed it, even we realized how tough it was going to be. It has been an incredible ride.”

A ride that continued this week when Evans committed to OU on Tuesday night.

To go along with being the team leader on defense, Evans has returned either a punt or kickoff for a touchdown in all three playoff victories.

Jenks started the season 0-2 but has rallied off 11 consecutive wins with each win feeling more dominant than the previous one. This all culminated with a 41-10 thrashing of four-time defending champions Tulsa (Okla.) Union in the semifinals.

Tulsa Union and DeSoto, Texas, beat the Trojans to start the season. In Smallwood’s eyes, it was the wakeup call the program needed.

“Everything changed after that loss to DeSoto,” Smallwood said. “We said we were never going to lose again. We don’t know losing at Jenks, and we don’t like it. We’re almost clicking on all cylinders right now. We have one more game to go.”

Said Parker: “This has been my dream. I’ve wanted to play for the gold ball for so long. Now’s my chance. I want to hold that ball when it’s all over Friday.”

SoonerNation will be at the game.

Oklahoma Class 5A state championship: Tulsa (Okla.) East Central (9-4) vs. Midwest City (Okla.) Carl Albert (9-4), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at OSU’s Boone Pickens Stadium.

Tulsa East Central is 9-4 on paper only. The Cardinals have not lost one game on the field but were stripped of four victories because of the use of an ineligible player in the first four weeks of the season.

All that adversity did was bring the team together, said ESPN 300 athlete and OU commit Stanvon Taylor.

“After we had to forfeit those four games, nothing was guaranteed. It was a do or die situation,” Taylor said. “Playoffs weren’t promised to us. District championship wasn’t promised. We’ve played every game like it’s our last.”

Taylor has been sensational during the team’s playoff run, but it will be tough for him to make an impact on defense. All Midwest City Carl Albert likes to do is run the ball. This game will be won in the trenches.

“I feel very comfortable with our run defense,” Taylor said. “We play lights out on defense, and I know we’re going to come out on top. This is what we’ve worked so hard for.”

SoonerNation will be at the game.

California Central Section Championship: Fresno (Calif.) Central East (11-2) vs. Clovis (Calif.) North (11-1), 9 p.m. Friday (7 p.m. PT), at Buchanan Stadium in Clovis, Calif.

Something just felt off the first time, said ESPN 300 safety and OU commit Hatari Byrd. He is referencing a 50-7 drubbing Fresno Central East took against Clovis North last month.

“I normally try to give a pregame speech and get everybody fired up, but there was no energy that night,” Byrd said. “We’re pumped up now.”

Under first-year coach Justin Garza, Fresno Central East has already made history and will be playing for its first ever Central Section championship.

A move of four-star cornerback L.J. Moore to quarterback has helped give more weapons to the Fresno Central East offense and ESPN 300 cornerback Johnny Johnson Jr. has returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the two previous playoffs wins.

“We need to play hard for four quarters and hit them in the mouth,” Byrd said. “They have some big tight ends so I know it’s going to be my job to stop them. I’m fired up. The school is fired up, but we need to stay focused.”

Other OU commits still alive: Manvel, Texas (Austin Bennett) takes on Cypress (Texas) Ranch (Keith Ford) on Saturday afternoon. Katy, Texas (Matt Dimon) plays La Porte, Texas, on Saturday. And Miami Central (Ahmad Thomas) goes against Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Palm Bay on Friday night. All of those games are third-round matchups.