The Virtue Center
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Finding Their Voice
August 2022 • Issue 8 • Volume 21
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AUGUST CONTENTS 2022
ISSUE 8– VOLUME 21 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mark Doescher
The Virtue Center
12 by Rae Lynn Payton
Mark Doescher Josh Gateley Jim & Lisa Photography
Enhancing services for those struggling with substance use disorder, mental health challenges.
Finding Their Voice
16 by Tim Willert
Norman North debate team shines at national competition.
Roxanne Avery | Lindsay Cuomo Kathy Hallren | Josh Helmer Shannon Hudzinski | Connor Pasby Rae Lynn Payton | Chris Plank | Tim Willert
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20 by Chris Plank
Sooner baseball made a surprising run to the MCWS finals.
26 by Chris Plank
Sooner football prepares to take the field this fall with a whole new identity.
HIGH S CHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
38 by Connor Pasby
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BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 11
COM M U N I T Y
The Virtue Center
ne of Norman’s best-kept secrets serves around 2,000 people a year. The Virtue Center focuses on helping citizens that are struggling with substance use disorder, along with co-occurring disorders and mental health issues.
Addiction can be a lifelong disease so the organization is there to help with any long-term issues that might arise down the road, often with the same therapist available.
The nonprofit’s mission is to be a place of help and hope, rooted in the core values of care, compassion, integrity, courage and community.
The pandemic, in particular, caused an increase in needs, often sparked by past trauma. Instead of using again, clients could return for therapy and related services.
“Smash the stigma!” shared Teresa Collado, MHR, who serves as executive director and has been with the organization for almost 24 years. “We encourage people to get the help they need. Families do not need to be embarrassed. It’s a public health issue, not a moral issue.” Clients will be met with an intensive outpatient program that focuses on the individual and the family with trauma-informed therapy, and also offers group therapy, case management and peer-recovery support services. Additionally, they specialize in helping individuals that suffer from gambling addictions. The group works with anyone in need regardless of age and has supported children as young as ten as well as adults that are well into their senior years. Families of those in need may receive treatment as well, as the entire family is often affected. Anyone may walk in and see a therapist within an hour. Calls can be taken as well. Clinicians do initial screenings, and a variety of needs are met, including those for food, clothing or crisis services. “If we aren’t the right place for them, we will help them get to where they need to be,” said Collado.
12 | August 2022
“It’s nice to be able to go back to their safe person,” explained Collado.
Now closing in on their 50th-year anniversary, The Virtue Center is moving to a temporary location while awaiting the grand opening of a new, state-of-the-art site. The group has served over 10,000 people in the past 5 years, and the need to serve more is gaining. Renovating the current outdated, problematic property was going to be costly at over $2 million, and was less conducive to their mission. Their new building will present a professional and trauma-informed approach to the environment. “We decided to build from the ground up, (and create) exactly what people need to let them know that they are safe,” said Collado. “You deserve a place that reflects your recovery.” A $4 million capital campaign was launched, and the initial goal was met at the end of June 2022 in order to secure a $655,000 grant from the Mabee Foundation. “The response from the community has been incredible,” Collado shared. “So many people wished they had known about this organization and would talk about their own experiences. A big part of this campaign is to provide the appropriate facility, but it’s also to be able to serve more people and build public awareness.
BY: RAE LYNN PAYTON
Enhancing services for those struggling with substance use disorder, mental health challenges
“We have an incredible campaign cabinet and chair volunteers that work with our board. One of the most effective things for the campaign was bringing people to the agency and doing the tour to see the condition of the building we are in and sharing what we do and stories about our clients. We have seen miracles happen over the years. People get healthy, reunite with their family, go back to school, get better jobs, and gain their family’s trust again. They start to flourish, and it’s just amazing.” The goal is to double the amount of people they serve in the next 5 years. “The old building reflects people’s current state, and the new facility will reflect hope and where they’re going to be, which is healthier, happier and stronger and making a difference in their life and their family’s lives,” Collado said. The new 14,000-square-foot facility will be filled with light and feature a community center space that provides areas for clients, partners, training and other agencies. The organization strives to serve anyone who struggles with substance use disorder and related disorders, but they are also hoping to expand as a stand-alone for mental health needs in the future. This would allow them to provide support to families, whether or not the member in need is seeking treatment or whether or not they are ready for help. “It will be a place where when you walk in you feel the hope and the joy of recovery,” Collado shared. “We are not here to judge you and are here to help you. We know you can get better and we believe in you.” boydstreet.com
The support of the community has allowed The Virtue Center to provide its vital services to those in need over the past 50 years. Continued support through financial donations allows them to build their new facility as well as hire the best therapists. Volunteers are welcome to serve on the board. Expansion of volunteer opportunities will open up once they are moved into their new space. Volunteers will be needed for painting, gardening, welcoming newcomers, mentoring and training, for example. The Virtue Center’s beginnings date back to 1972 when it was first known as the Norman Alcohol Information Center. Dick Virtue was the founding executive director, and the organization was renamed in his honor on its 45th anniversary. They have partnered with United Way of Norman since 1973. Their new location will be located near I-35 on Wilcox, at SW Lindsey and SW 24th Street. They are hopeful for a one-year timeline but will be continuing their work at an interim location next door at the United Way Plaza building. Visit thevirtuecenter.org to discover more about The Virtue Center’s mission, volunteer opportunities available, and links to donate. – BSM
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BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 13
COM M U N I T Y
Fi n d i n g T he ir Voice
Norman North debate team shines at national competition
organ Russell knew she had something special on her hands when she arrived in Louisville, Kentucky, for the 2022 National Speech & Debate Tournament. Norman North’s third-year debate coach was feeling pretty good about battle-tested team members Leon Shepkaru and Tuqa Alibadj. Both had been on the big stage before. It was the third national appearance for Shepkaru, a senior, and the second for Alibadj, a junior. The two wound up facing off against each other in the semifinals of the Western Oklahoma district tournament and both qualified for Louisville, where 5,000 students from 1,5000 schools in the U.S., Canada, China and Taiwan competed June 12-17. “I was telling these two the whole time that I had a
16 | August 2022
really good feeling about what they were going to do,” Russell said. “I knew these kids … were going to do really well.” The students did not disappoint their coach, leading the way as the nine-member T-Wolves squad pulled off what Russell called an “unprecedented” performance. Alibadj finished fifth in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate -- a one-on-one format that focused on questions of morality and justice -- while Shepkaru placed 14th in the same event. Both automatically qualified for next year’s national tournament. “I definitely didn’t expect to place that high before the tournament,” Alibadj said. “I was very happily surprised to say the least.” Shepkaru, 18, and Alibadj, 17, set a goal of finishing in the Top 20.
BY: TIM WILLERT “We wanted to go as deep as we could this year,” he said. “I’m really happy and really proud of how Tuqa and I did. It was my last high school tournament, so it was nice to finish on a high note.” Two others from Norman North – sophomores Grant Goering and Ridwan Siddique – finished 11th in the two-person Public Forum Debate format, which focused on current events, and qualified for next year’s national tournament. Additionally, the team was named a Debate School of Excellence for finishing in the Top 20 out of all the participating debate schools. For Russell and her students, it marked the first time they competed in-person following two years of virtual events because of COVID-19. “I’m going to remember how these two helped each other and I’m going to remember the team building and camaraderie,” she said. Alibadj, Norman North’s incoming student body president, said the in-person competition was “definitely a lot more fun.” “The Zoom part is all the work and stress of nationals without the fun,” she said. “In-person is the best of both worlds.”
Shepkaru, who is off to Emory University in the fall, also preferred the in-person competition. “It’s nice to see everybody’s face and talk to people outside of debates,” he said. “It’s definitely a better holistic experience, for sure.” As good as Russell felt about her team’s chances, she also worried about how the T-Wolves would fare against teams that had the resources to compete nationally or hire multiple coaches or attend pricey summer debate camps. “I think this national proved that these kids are among the best in the nation,” she said. “Before nationals, I was worried that these inequities would keep these kids from doing their best. “It proves that hard work and dedication are really it because I’ve seen them work for years and know how good they are at debating.” Russell teaches debate, speech communications and public speaking at Norman North, where as many as 50 to 60 students try out for the debate team. “Speech and debate is about finding your voice, using that voice and then expressing your ideas however you want,” she said. “Because it doesn’t matter what you do after high school, you’re going to have to express your views and how you do that changes lives. I get to enable kids and empower them to do that.” – BSM
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O U S P O RT S
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une was as compelling and magical as any in Oklahoma Sooner athletics history. The OU baseball team captured the hearts and the imagination of Sooner Nation during an unforgettable run to Omaha that ended just short of a National Championship. The challenging and rewarding run will set the foundation for Sooner baseball for years to come, but it was an effort years in the making. “Let’s take it back to when I first got here,” Sooner head coach Skip Johnson said. “We go to Florida State, we don’t have our 3 or 4 hitters and we get beat in the finals of the Regional. Second year was just ok, we were really preparing for the third year. We (were) 6th in the country when COVID hit and then three of our starting pitchers get drafted. “Fourth year was a disaster and our 5th year we’re in Omaha playing for a National Championship. It’s incredible what we’ve done and I’m really happy about that… those kids care about each other and they’re selfless. It’s not about me but it’s about what we do together.” That message was challenged many times throughout the season. After winning its first conference series of the season against Baylor, the Sooners dropped its next two against Oklahoma State and Texas. But after the series loss to Texas, something clicked, and the Sooners got hot. Oklahoma proceeded to win in its next five conference series to finish the season just short of a Big 12 Regular Season Championship. They went to Arlington and swept through the Big 12 Tour-
20 | August 2022
nament bracket claiming their first Big 12 Tournament Championship since 2013. The Sooners went on the road and beat Florida in Gainesville for regional play and Virginia Tech in the Super Regionals, clinching its trip to the mecca of college baseball. There wasn’t a single magical moment that propelled the Sooners, it wasn’t a change in philosophy or approach. It was a simple message from Johnson, one that the coach had been selling the entire season. “One pitch at a time is really what the game’s played like,” Johnson said. “You can only control your thoughts — your one thought on one pitch. You don’t want to look in the future; you don’t want to look in the past.” But one thing did change for Oklahoma heading into the Big 12 Tournament. Norman native and redshirt freshman Cade Horton added a new weapon to his arsenal. Horton was the 2019-2020 Gatorade High School Player of the Year. After starring as a Norman Tiger on the diamond and gridiron, Horton decided to play both college football and baseball at Oklahoma. In a wild twist, Horton had initially committed to Ole Miss, the team the Sooners would eventually play in the Men’s College World Series Championship Series. But as it is in life, the path to get on the field was filled with adversity. Horton starred during his first fall as a Sooner and seemed poised to play a key role for the Sooners in 2021. “His freshman fall was incredible,” Johnson said. “I can remember things that he did like it was yesterday.”
BY: CHRIS PLANK
Sooner Baseball makes a surprising run to the MCWS Finals But Horton suffered a UCL injury that required Tommy John surgery and ended up missing the entire 2021 season. Horton did not even make his pitching debut in 2022 until the 23rd game of the season when he came on in relief and registered the win against Oklahoma State. The early results on the mound were mixed. Through his first nine appearances, Horton had allowed 20 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings while striking out just 15. His record sat at 2-2 and his earned run average was hovering around 8. He knew something had to change before the postseason started so he worked on a new pitch. “I got lit up at Tech,” Horton said. “I needed to do something. People were sitting on my curve or fastball, and I was getting hit around pretty good. I was talking to Skip about adding a cutter or slider. So, I learned the grip and I started throwing it in the pen and it was all right. When we went to Dallas for the Big 12 Tournament, Ben Abram took me under his wing. We played catch and he was telling me some pointers. That’s where I picked it up.” Horton debuted his slider in the Big 12 Championship game against Texas and struck out nine Longhorns in 5 1/3 innings while allowing just two hits. “Learning a new pitch is about getting a feel for it and
throwing it,” Horton added. “Getting that repetition in and having a feel for that pitch.” That repetition continued in the postseason as Horton wowed throughout Regionals and Super Regionals. Horton struck out 16 and allowed just four hits in his two starts in Gainesville and Blacksburg and then continued to impress in Omaha. While the slider helped, the opportunity to just pitch was huge for Horton. “The slider definitely helped a lot, but I also didn’t get to throw against hitters in the fall,” Horton said. “I got thrown into the ringer to start. My first appearance was Bedlam, and it was a close game and that was my first outing. I think that slider helped but getting experience and learning to take it one pitch at a time and slowing the game down really made a difference for me.” In the Sooner win over Notre Dame in the second game of the MCWS, Horton became the first OU pitcher to have double-digit strikeouts since Mark Redman in 1994. He backed up that performance with an absolute gem against Ole Miss in the Championship Series striking out 13 in 7 1/3 innings. All totaled for the postseason, including the Big 12 Championship game, Horton struck out 49 hitters in five appearances.
BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 21
In true team fashion, Horton was not focused on himself or his performance, but more on his team, including teammate and fellow pitcher Ben Abram who took time out of his routine to help Horton master the pitch that helped take his game to another level in the postseason. “I think that it’s really special. That’s what made our team have so much success,” Horton said. “We didn’t care who got the credit. We wanted to win and help each other out. Last year, we had some division among the team and this year we had good leadership and we all came together for a common goal and that was to win the National Championship.” One thing is for certain - the first trip to Omaha since 2010 generated a passion within the Oklahoma fanbase that has spawned an urgency in upgrading and improving Mitchell Park. New renderings were released for a complete facelift for Mitchell Park while Brian and Kim Kimrey pledged a second major gift to the baseball program, pushing their support for L. Dale Mitchell Park upgrades to over $5 million “It’s incredible,” Johnson said. “The renderings are fantastic. What the Kimrey family has done is incredible. They love baseball, they love the University of Oklahoma and what they represent. It’s important because it’s someone that cares about what we do as a baseball program. The pouring out across OU... KJ (Kindler), (Patty) Gasso, (Jeff) Lebby or (Ryan) Hybl, that’s what the University of Oklahoma is all about. We care a lot about each other as people. I’ve worked at a corporation; this is a family-owned business.” The hope is to make the L. Dale Michell Park, the home of Sooner baseball, among the most hostile environments in college baseball. After watching what Ole Miss baseball fans did at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Sooner fans, donors and players are motivated to create an atmosphere like that in Norman. “Our fan support in Omaha, when we were walking down the escalator in the team hotel headed to the bus, that’s how it should be all the time,” Johnson said. “You couldn’t hear your-
self think. People screaming, yelling. It was crazy. That’s what college baseball is about in the SEC. How we treat football, that’s how they treat baseball. We must continue to put that product out there too. Our fans are great, they are unbelievable, they’re passionate and I’m really happy to be the head coach.” “Homefield advantage is massive,” Horton added. “If L. Dale is to get packed consistently, it would be an awesome experience. It would be huge for recruiting and that would help us in the long run. Fans play a huge role in a team’s success as you saw with Ole Miss. It brings a lot of energy and fire to a team.” The Sooners have a solid core returning for the 2023 season. A trio of freshmen emerged as major contributors. Wallace Clark made the Big 12 All-Freshman Team after racking up 27 RBI and 31 runs. John Spikerman starred as the leadoff hitter recording 30 runs with an on-base percentage of .434. Then there was Jackson Nicklaus, who had 36 RBI and 48 runs on .288 hitting in his first season. They played a major role and now will be key in continuing the Sooner success. “We felt that monster and we tapped on it. Now, what are we going to do about it?” Johnson asked about next season. “We have to go out and find the guys that want to come back here and make them good teammates.” For Johnson, it is not about one trip or one magical postseason. It’s not about one pitcher getting hot or a handful of hitters doing their job, it’s about the team. “I really believe that product has always been here,” Johnson said. “It’s always been there since I’ve been here. We’ve been good. Sometimes we’re not as good as othertimes but that’s college baseball.” And in the end, there will always be one simple message. “It’s really just about one pitch,” Johnson said. “This game’s hard enough to play. It’s an imperfect game. One pitch at a time.” – BSM
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he 2022 Oklahoma Sooner football team will be different than anything Sooner fans have seen before; different in its comprehensive approach off the field and different offensively, defensively and with special teams. But for everything that is different, there will be a familiar goal with the same expectation. As the Sooners get set to take the field under first-year head coach Brent Venables, the Oklahoma Sooners are a team chasing a National Championship. Perhaps Baker Mayfield said it best at the Sooner Spring game. “We’re back… I mean it’s not like we’ve been gone… but we’re back.” After an 11-2 season that wrapped up with an Alamo Bowl win, Venables needed to see more. “We’re starting over,” Venables said during an OU Coaches Caravan stop. “We’re stripping this bad boy down to the studs.” Despite the Sooners finishing with 10 or more wins in six of the last seven seasons, and winning six straight
26 | August 2022
conference championships prior to last season, Venables needed change - a new attitude, focus and mindset. “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the mindset, the attitude and the buy-in of our players,” Venables said. “They’ve had a ‘get-to’, as opposed to a ‘got-to’ mentality. There’s just a very refreshing, innocent thing to be around.” The fans did their part in setting a tone for the season when 75,360 Sooner fans piled into Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium for the Spring game. It was the most fans to attend a spring game across the country in 2022. “We sent a message that best is the standard,” Venables said. “That is what it looks like. That’s what excellence looks like. That’s what being ‘all in’ looks like. That’s what commitment looks like. That’s what Sooners look like. It sent a message to college football how important Oklahoma football is.” With many fresh faces and a completely reimagined offense and defense, it’s time to see what is in store for Sooner football in 2022.
BY: CHRIS PLANK
QUARTERBACK DILLON GABRIEL
RUNNING BACK ERIC GRAY
The level of expectation for the starting quarterback at Oklahoma has always been high. From Heupel and White to Bradford and Baker and Kyler and Jalen, excellence has always been the standard. Like three of the starters before him, projected Sooner starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel assumes the reigns as a transfer. Gabriel made his way to Oklahoma after a stellar campaign at the University of Central Florida where despite battling injuries last season, he put up incredible numbers. During his three seasons at UCF, he started 26 games and amassed more than 8,000 passing yards and 70 touchdown passes. The 70 touchdown passes were the most among AAC quarterbacks since 2019.
Eric Gray could have easily questioned his decision to come to Oklahoma. The Tennessee transfer never developed into the feature back role during his first year at Oklahoma and was relegated to a change of pace back behind veteran Kennedy Brooks.
Nicknamed “Dime Time,” the time was right for Gabriel to come to OU with the addition of new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. “(Lebby) loves to take shots,” Gabriel said. “He loves to be super aggressive, play fast, physical and fearless. Those are three components that I feel like I line up with.” Lebby had coached Gabriel during his most productive season at UCF. When the Knights had a coaching change after the 2019 season, Lebby left for Ole Miss before reuniting with Gabriel in Norman. “I think probably the thing that I’m most excited about is this guy knows how to operate,” Lebby said. “He knows how to walk in the building every single day, have great ownership of how he’s going to take command of the offense and what it means to be a quarterback. To me, that is critical as we set the tone of how we’re gonna do things.”
But Gray never pouted, never showed frustration. He just put his head down and grinded. “As a player… when things don’t go your way, you think about, ‘How can I get better?’” Gray said. “I think last year was just a way for me to get better. I can still look at my runs from last season and say, ‘I can get better there’ and help me in this season. I think last season was a stepping stone for me to getting better physically and mentally.” Now headed into 2022, Gray has a chance to be the feature tailback for Sooner running back coach DeMarco Murray in what has become a loaded running back room. “Being led by Eric Gray and Marcus Major, and then adding a young guy like Jovantae Barnes, who brings a different kind of dimension to our room, I’m excited to get a full spring and full summer under my belt with these guys,” Murray said. “It’s an exciting new time.” Gray starred in the Alamo Bowl for the Sooners finishing with 127 total yards (including a season-long 48yard run) to close on a high note. Just one game earlier, his fourth-quarter muffed punt at the OU 5-yard line in a Bedlam loss to Oklahoma State switched momentum and sparked the Cowboys’ victory.
BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 27
“As a player, you have those ups and downs. It’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get up,” Gray said. “If you keep going and you keep driving, you have no choice but to be the best. You have no choice other than to be the greatest. You have no choice if you keep working and keep going.”
WIDE RECEIVER THEO WEASE Theo Wease had a decision to make. After a breakout performance against Baylor in 2019 and a solid 2020 campaign where he led the team in receiving yards, the five-star receiver was injured in 2021 and missed the entire season. The talent is unquestioned, but the ability to display it has been limited. When Lincoln Riley left for USC, Wease had to decide if his future was in Norman with Brent Venables or somewhere else. “That’s my guy,” said Wease of Venables. “He’s always a 10, I might even say he’s always an 11. I’m just excited and glad that I’m playing for him now. The rest is gonna be history.” With the decision made, the 6-2, 201-pound redshirt junior is back in the Crimson and Cream and motivated unlike he has ever been before. Missing a season due to an injury and watching a coach leave will do that. “I went through the injury, missed the whole season, and then the coaching change. It was hard, but my family stayed with me,” he said. “They uplifted me… and my teammates still talk to me about everything. It was hard, but at the end of the day it was an easy decision (to come back).” “Theo Wease, it’s good to see him back and see him running around, being full speed,” Receivers coach Cale Gundy said. “A guy that’s been here, going into his fourth season, expect big things out of him.” Wease has also caught the eye of Lebby who is excited about the potential of Wease in his offense. “That guy is operating at a high level,” Lebby said of Wease. “He’s been incredibly competitive. He’s worked his butt off. So excited about where he’s at and proud of him because of his work ethic and how he’s led in that room.”
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN WANYA MORRIS Much like Tennessee transfer Eric Gray, things did not go the way offensive lineman Wanya Morris envisioned 2021 in a Sooner uniform would be. Unlike Gray though, Morris rarely found himself on the field. In fact, Morris played only six games the entire season. “(Last season) was definitely a difficult one because moving from Tennessee to Oklahoma, that’s a lot of travel first of all,” Morris said. “And there was just a lot of stuff going on when that happened. Personally, I was going through (a lot) mentally because you’ve got to deal with so much stress, the move-in and learning the playbook.” 28 | August 2022
But after the Alamo Bowl, an in-depth conversation with his mom really changed the perspective of the 6-6, 301-pound senior. “I was just sitting in the car with my mom one day,” Morris said. “She said ‘Wanya, is there something you still want to do?’ And we just broke down and had a long talk. She said ‘First, you must figure out who Wanya is. Your answer will follow that. As long as you keep your faith in God and figure out who Wanya is, you’ll be fine.’” Morris decided who “he” was and that the challenge of 2021 was something he needed to be the best player and person he can be. “I feel like I really needed the season to go that way because I never got my redshirt freshman year, I guess,” Morris said. “So that helped me mature a lot and grow up and see a lot of things about myself I needed to see. This year, I feel like I come with better intensity, and a better focus. I’m able to do things and see things I couldn’t do or see before.” Morris has been penciled in by many as the starter at right tackle, a similar spot to where many had him during the 2021 preseason. This year feels different and according to offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, it is different. “(He’s) night and day,” Bedenbaugh said of Morris. “I mean a complete 180 in everything, the way he approaches everything, academics, the way he works, (his) attitude and mentality. He’s always been a talented guy ... but he made a decision to change the way he was going to do things and it’s showing up on the field.” The talent is unquestioned on the Sooner offensive line. Along with Anton Harrison, Chris Murray, Andrew Raym and a slew of talented newcomers, competition will be fierce. But leadership and a renewed approach from Morris could help make all the difference for the Sooners in the trenches. “We’re looking for a lot of maturity from the older guys, those guys who have played a bunch of ball,” Lebby said. “We want them to continue to push that group, lead that group.”
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ETHAN DOWNS The 2022 NFL Draft ended up being a good one for members of the Sooner defensive line. Starters Isiah Thomas, Nik Bonnito and Perrion Winfrey all had their respective names called and the depth on the Oklahoma defensive line took a massive hit. In true Sooner fashion, Oklahoma does not find itself in a situation where it has to rebuild but simply reload. Led by Jalen Redmond and Reggie Grimes, the Sooner defensive line does not lack talent. But no name has generated more excitement and interest than Ethan Downs. Downs, a Weatherford, Oklahoma
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product, played in every game and despite registering just three tackles for losses the entire season, had his best performance in a Sooner uniform during the Alamo Bowl. Downs immediately meshed with the new staff. “I would say anybody that really wants to be successful, they would be thankful for these coaches because that’s what they do. They have such a high standard,” Downs said. “These coaches are all about grit, heart, all about putting your mind to it.” Downs came to Oklahoma as one of the top-ranked prospects in the Sooner State and his passion for Oklahoma football was not lost on the former or current staff. His new position coach Miguel Chavis noticed the passion for Sooner football from day one. “I don’t think there’s a guy on this team that loves this team or Oklahoma, or his position more than Ethan Downs,” Chavis said. “Ethan Downs is the type of young man, practice is over, and somebody maybe ripped off some tape and forgot to pick it up, which is a huge no-no for us here at Oklahoma. Nobody cleans up after Oklahoma. It’s nobody else’s job but ours. Ethan Downs is gonna be the guy to go pick it up. That’s who he is, on and off the field, he’s risen to the challenge.” Downs finished with 14 tackles, 0.5 quarterback sacks
30 | August 2022
and a forced fumble, flashing great potential in his true freshman season. In addition to the impact that Downs made on the new coaching staff, the new staff definitely made an impact on Downs, especially Venables. “He’s a brilliant man,” Downs said of Venables. “Out on the field, he can see it all. He stands out there when we’re running through plays and he’s pointing at D-linemen, safeties, everybody out on the field calling them out. To even watch film with him — that’s the kind of coach he is, he welcomes you to come in and watch film, really just working on the finite details.”
LINEBACKER DANNY STUTSMAN Danny Stutsman became somewhat of a cult hero after his freshman season. Despite missing a handful of games due to an elbow injury, the talented linebacker became a fan favorite thanks in part to his unbridled passion for football and his incredible sense of humor on social media. “I think I have a switch. I can be a funny guy,” Stutsman said. “But I hit that field and I’m competing.” The talented sophomore linebacker provides much more than just a hilarious social media presence, he is a passionate football player who may just be the perfect fit in Venables’ defense.
The 6-foot-3, 234-pound Stutsman arrived on campus last June as a ready-made linebacker from Windermere, Florida. He played in 10 games — he missed three with an elbow injury — mostly as a backup and finished with 38 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one quarterback sack and two forced fumbles. With OU returning talented backers like DeShaun White and David Ugwoegbu and welcoming in newcomers like Kobie McKeizie and Jaren Kanak, Stutsman will be counted on for more than just his popularity. “Putting more on myself… I know I can take it,” he said. “I’m just ready to assume that role and push myself... just jump out the nest and fly.”
SECONDARY WOODI WASHINGTON Sooner cornerback Woodi Washington has one goal in his final season at Oklahoma, to rank among the elite in college football at his position. “I think he’s been one of the most consistent guys at all three levels,” Venables said. “I like our skill in the secondary. We’re still learning the language, alignments and some of the fundamental things that we want them to do, communication things… but I really like that secondary group led by Woodi.” Over the last two seasons, Washington has played in 16 games with 11 starts. He started the first two games of 2021, but an injury against Western Carolina cost him the next seven games before he returned in Week 10 against Baylor. Washington logged 27 tackles and picked off two passes, both against Oklahoma State, in the six games he was healthy enough to play in 2021. Washington has embraced the new approach and defensive mindset of Sooner football, especially that of new cornerbacks coach Jay Valai. “It’s definitely different,” Washington said. “A guy like Valai, he played in the [NFL]. He had a great college career and he’s coached in the NFL. For him to be our coach, it just pushes us to be the best we can be every day.” In turn, Valai has been impressed with what he has seen from the veteran Sooner. “Woodi is a vet and he’s been part of the game,” Valai said. “He understands the game and he has a high level of ‘want-to.’ The biggest thing is working his details and understanding the craft and where he fits in this defense. He’s been busting his tail. He’s always asking questions, being intentional and being a good leader for the entire room. “For everybody across the board, one thing we’re trying to destroy now is [lacking anything.] We don’t want guys who lack passion, lack tenacity, lack a ‘want-to’, boydstreet.com
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lack of being intentional. All those details have to be intentional, finite and to the point. We know if we do those things, we’ll be elite in everything we do.” Along with returning starter DJ Graham, Washington has the potential to be a consistent playmaker for the Sooners. And if Oklahoma is to shut down the high-powered offenses of the Big 12, Washington must be a difference-maker.
THE COACHES Venables has trained, prepared and waited for this moment. Under the tutelage of Hall of Famers like Bill Snyder and Bob Stoops as well as future Hall of Famer Dabo Swiney at Clemson, Venables has shown he is ready based on the foundation he has built and the passion he has rekindled in the Sooner fanbase. “If we’re gonna be a championship program, how you do anything is how you do everything. And everything matters,” Venables said. “We have the opportunity to create the most hostile environment in college football. That’s what we want.” If there is one thing that fans can expect from Venables, it’s honesty and passion. And each are paramount to building a successful program. “I’ll be honest – if anyone’s known me, I’ve always had a ton of energy,” Venables said. “I’ve always been very passionate, incredibly demanding. I try to lead from a place of optimism and positivity, but I’m not going to have my head in the sand when things aren’t right. I’m going to be very truthful, very honest. “We haven’t played yet. I’m not naive, and certainly our coaches and our players aren’t. We’ve had plenty of failure and plenty of tough days. I don’t take it for granted – if I don’t, they don’t. I can promise you.”-BSM
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HI GH S CH O O L S P ORTS
he 2021 season was a roller coaster for the Norman Tigers, but they managed to get back into the playoffs for the third time in the last four years. Rocky Martin is entering his 8th season as head coach, and he enjoys what he’s seen out of his group so far. “The guys have been pushing themselves, and have been getting bigger, faster and stronger,” he said.
OFFENSE Now, the Tigers prepare for a very difficult 6A-1 slate, but they bring back some playmakers to make a run in the 2022 season. Dual-threat quarterback Tias McClarty will be poised for another electrifying season. The signal caller threw for 1,086 yards and nine touchdowns last year. He was also dangerous with his legs, rushing for 1,569 yards and 19 touchdowns. “He’s a dual-threat guy,” Martin said. “He can throw the ball, as well as pick up a lot of yards with his feet. McClarty is a great leader for our football team, and he shows it every day with his work ethic. We expect big things from him this season.” It will be a running back by committee with senior Xavier Shackelford (5’8”, 155) and junior Devin Alexander (5’8”, 160). Shackelford rushed for 608 yards last year and four rushing touchdowns. He had 826 yards, and eight touchdowns a year ago. 38 | August 2022
Martin loves what he sees out of the two running backs and will also use them in the passing game. “We can do multiple different things with them in the offense,” he said. “Any time they touch the ball, they’re dangerous. Both are fast and explosive threats for us.” The only downside to the Tiger offense is they lose leading receiver Edric Lambert. Lambert accounted for 60% of the Tigers’ receiving yards a year ago and seven of the nine receiving touchdowns. Despite the absence, Martin is excited about the receivers they have. Junior Max Wilson (5’11” 170) has caught Martin’s eye throughout camp and thinks he will step into a bigger role. “He has really stepped up throughout workouts and camps,” Martin said. “He ran track in the spring and had a great summer with 7-on-7. Wilson has shown that he can be one of our threats and has gotten bigger and stronger throughout camp.” The offensive line will shake up differently in the 2022 season. The Tigers lose their big man up front, Dennis Lafferty III, who committed to play football at East Central. Seniors Cayde Spencer (6’2”, 240) and Deuce Trenary (5’11”, 250) are both two-year starters and will be leading the offensive line group. Senior Easton Peterson will also find himself in the mix.
BY: CONNOR PASBY
It’s always beneficial to bring back your leading tackler on defense and Norman does just that with junior safety Dax Noles (6’0”, 170). He led the Tigers in tackles with 133 last year. He also had three interceptions and a fumble recovery. The hard-hitting safety will be relied on to make big plays in the secondary and could possibly play both ways. “He’s another kid that you could see playing both sides of the ball,” Martin said. “He’s physical, smart and plays downhill. Noles is a really good athlete for us and is also a baseball kid.” The defensive line will look a little different to start the year. The Tigers lose Xavier Mason, who played the past two seasons, and nose guard Trenton Byington. Senior Fred Richmond (6’0”, 190) will step into a bigger role for the Tigers. Richmond appeared in seven games a year ago and recorded 33 tackles. Despite losing starting linebackers Andre McCoy and Seth Wishon, the Tigers still have talent at the position. They will return three linebackers who have a load of experience at the position. Seniors Brody Boyd (5’9”, 170) and Montgomery Johnson (6’0”, 175) will be the outside linebackers for the Tigers. Junior Lancy Eubanks (6’0”, 175) will be the inside linebacker. He had a great sophomore campaign and has started a handful of games for Martin. boydstreet.com
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“We feel good about the guys coming back,” Martin said. “A number of them have experience at the linebacker position, whether it was starting a game or getting their number called throughout the game. We feel really good about this group.” The secondary will have some starting spots open so there will be plenty of Tigers seeing playing time. The cornerbacks will be a big dose of seniors, according to Martin. Seniors O’Maree Tatum (5’10”, 150), Kurt Carter (5’6”, 150) and Dai Dreon Randle (5’6”, 150) will all get their shot to slow down the weapons that 6A-1 provides. The schedule is difficult, as always in the 6A-1 division. The Tigers will open the season with a highly anticipated Crosstown Clash against Norman North on Sept. 1. Norman will be looking to break a two-year skid against the T-Wolves. “Obviously, right off the bat, Norman North will be a challenge for us,” Martin said. “They’re always a solid football team. From top to bottom, 6A-1 is as tough as it gets. We got to take it one game at a time.”– BSM
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HI GH S CH O O L S P ORTS
NORMAN NORTH TIMBERWOLVES
fter a trip to the quarterfinals of the playoffs and a final record of 7-4, the Norman North Timberwolves head into the 2022 season excited for the challenge of their new district assignment. The new 6A-I District 2 includes east-side powers Bixby, Broken Arrow and Jenks, along with Enid, Moore, Southmoore and Westmoore. “We’ve got a tough schedule, but we’re looking forward to that,” Norman North head football coach Justin Jones said. “Obviously, the Crosstown (Clash) is always a big game for us and then (we’ve) got to go play Edmond Santa Fe who was in the state championship game a couple of years ago. But then you really open your district schedule, that’s where for us it’s going to be a tough challenge. “Back-to-back-to-back, week four, five and six, that’s the gauntlet that you’ve got to be able to manage your way through. Our whole theme this year is ‘victory loves preparation’ and so we’re preparing for weeks four, five and six right now here in June.” Another change that has been a welcome sight for many coaches across the state is that the OSSAA approved a recent proposal to extend the number of playoff teams in each district from four to six teams. “I think for us, it changes the picture a little bit,” Jones said.
OFFENSE Norman North will still operate out of a multiple 44 | August 2022
spread attack, but they will be looking to utilize more tempo and occasionally mix in some heavier sets. “We’re going to try to increase the pace,” Jones said. “We’ll try to do a lot of different things, but still utilize the zone-read game as our base and then expand from there.” North is set to replace its starting quarterback from the 2021 season, Gavin Frakes, with Kamden Sixkiller. Jones and his offensive staff have come away impressed with what they’ve seen from Sixkiller in the offseason. “We’ve got a guy that we feel like is going to do a great job for us as the leader in the clubhouse,” Jones said. “Kamden Sixkiller had a great spring and great summer. He’s exactly what you want in a quarterback. “I think for him it’s just a matter of getting snaps. He’s got all the things that you want in your starting quarterback from leadership to a fundamental and energy standpoint. For him, it’s just going to be continuing to get games under his belt and get that seat time.” Up front, North returns Bryce Christian and Harrison Utley. Beyond that, the T-Wolves have three spots up for grabs. Several of the names to watch include Kasen Lea, Eric McMullan and Cooper Vicsek. One area that the Timberwolves feel great about is the returning skill talent. North returns two of its top receivers in Cason Cabbiness and Brayden Dorney and its top running back in Chapman Mckown. “When you look at our offensive skill, we return a lot,” Jones said. “At the receiver position, you’ve got Cason
BY: JOSH HELMER
Cabbiness coming back. You’ve got Brayden Dorney. Both are slated to start. You have Zain Prater, who’s done a tremendous job, played outside receiver for us and will play some inside and outside for us this year.” It’s a similar story in the backfield with Mckown and several other talented playmakers. “In the backfield, you’ve got Chapman McKown, who’s a proven commodity and has done really good for us over the last three years and looking to have a great senior campaign,” Jones added. “Jackson Lundquist is another one of those receiver types that will help us tremendously. Carson Samson will fill in some at the ‘F’ and the ‘Y’ position. Duante Moses, he’s another guy that is going to be an up and comer for us. Then the other one is Cole Warren who will also have extensive playing time at the ‘Y’ position. We’ve got a number of skill guys with a ton of experience.”
DEFENSE Defensively, Norman North will once again operate out of a base 3-4 with the flexibility to spin down into 4-3 sets when called upon. The T-Wolves won’t be as big as in years past, but they’re hoping to make up that difference in the speed department. “(The defense has) a great understanding of our system,” Jones said. “I think it’s just utilizing their strengths and their talents to benefit us. These guys play with high energy, and they fly to the football. I think that’s something that we can take advantage of. boydstreet.com
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We want to average three turnovers a game.” Along the defensive line, look for standouts Isaac Morgan and Parker Andrews to anchor the T-Wolves’ defensive front. Nose guard is one of the positions that North will be ironing out in fall camp while also replacing some talented linebackers in Will Bradley, Jalonie Moses and Duncan Parham. “When you look at those three spots, you’ve got a guy like Lane Painter that’s had some experience and will do a good job for us,” Jones said. “Carver Rogers is another guy at the outside linebacker position that’s really had a great spring and summer and prepping to be the starter there. And then, inside, we’ve got Austin Vincent who rotated in with Will and Jalonie last year, so he’ll become a mainstay at the inside linebacker position. “Logan Richard’s going to be a sophomore and has really had a great spring, so he’s penciled in to be the other inside linebacker for us right now.” On the back end, Norman North is excited about what it has in returning cornerback Elias Battle and returning safety Mason Pace, but Jones has some key positions with competition. “Elias Battle returns at corner for us, and had a tremendous sophomore campaign,” Jones said. “We expect him to be even better as a junior. We’re going to be in the same boat defensively as we are up front on the offensive line. It’s just a matter of gaining experience and finding the right mix of guys.” – BSM
46 | August 2022
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HI GH S CH O O L S P ORTS
t was another strong season for the Noble Bears and head coach Greg George. The Bears finished the 2021 season with an 8-3 record and are poised for another dominant run. George is entering his 8th year as the Noble Bears head coach and is looking for another successful season.
OFFENSE The Bears will bring back key weapons on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Senior quarterback Colin Fisher (6’3”, 200), who’s committed to Arkansas on a baseball scholarship, has been a two-year starter for the Bears and has been a key part of their recent success. “He’s a winner, a kid that always wants the ball in his hands,” George said. “The dude loves to compete, and his teammates love to rally behind him. It says a lot about his competitive nature that Arkansas wanted him on a baseball scholarship.” Fisher came off a 2021 season where he threw for 2,958 yards, along with 33 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Bears also return some offensive weapons from a year ago. Senior running back Colin Thomas (5’8”, 175) will be the main ball carrier, along with Fisher. Thomas 50 | August 2022
rushed for 876 yards, with seven touchdowns. George said it’s big for the offense to have those two back. “Thomas is a guy that just hits the hole and runs with some urgency. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield when we need him too,” George said. The offense does lose their leading target, Trevor Wardrip, but return senior wideout Brandon Harper (5’10”, 170). Harper has been making a big impact on the offense since his freshman year. He had 1,460 receiving yards with 17 touchdowns in 2021. George speaks highly of his senior receiver. “Brandon Harper has been making plays for us since he came in,” he said. “He’s got an FCS offer from Houston Baptist, some Division II offers. He’s a bigtime player for us, and if you need a momentum swing play, he’s the guy to throw it, too.” The offensive line will be a clean house after losing all five starters from a year ago. The line will feature senior JT Womack at tackle, who saw some playing time last year and had a great fall camp. Look for junior Trevor Hand (6’0”, 200) to play center for the Bears. Junior Mason Crawford also broke into the starting lineup a year ago. George said it’ll take some time to put all the pieces together up front.
BY: CONNOR PASBY
“JT Womack is the senior of the group,” he said. “Our first three games are against really good teams, so we will find out really fast how we come together with this offensive unit.”
DEFENSE The defense will be a 3-4 scheme for the Noble Bears. They do lose a chunk of the defense from a year ago and will rely on different players to step into bigger roles. Senior linebacker Luke Conley (5’11”, 170) will be the leader of the defense. After playing defensive end in 2021, George believes the linebacker position is the perfect spot for him. “Luke Conley is a guy to keep an eye on,” he said. “He will revert to linebacker for us this year. Conley has a nonstop motor that runs 24/7 and always goes to the ball carrier with a purpose.” The defensive line returns Max Sauvageau and Conley. George calls these two “high motor” guys for the defense. The rest of the defensive line will have a number of different options. Seth Scruggs and Mason Crawford will also break into the starting role up front. “Some of these guys are still young and learning,” George said. “We will rotate different players, depending on the front we are in.” boydstreet.com
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The secondary brings back some key pieces, none more important than Brandon Harper. Harper has been a key corner for the Bears over the years, and George feels like he can go up against any receiver. Derek Davis (6’1”, 160) and Trevor Rudd are guys that could battle it out at the other cornerback position. We will see senior LT Taylor (5’8”, 170) at the safety position, who was hurt most of the 2021 season. The schedule will be difficult like it always is in 5A and the Bears will see similar 5A powerhouses early in the year. George believes his guys are ready for the task and will be prepared each week. “We have a tough non-district schedule, that’s how we like it,” he said. “It prepares us for district play.” He emphasizes how important it is to take it one game at a time before districts start and that all starts in Week 0 against Piedmont. “Piedmont will be a tough game out the gate,” George said. “Blanchard and Tuttle are always a battle for us. We’ll have to be ready to play each week.” – BSM
HI GH S CH O O L S P ORTS
ommunity Christian enters the 2022 high school football season fresh off a 9-3 campaign that saw the Royals advance to the second round of the 2A playoffs. CCS will battle for supremacy of District 2A-3 alongside district foes Lindsay, Comanche, Crooked Oak, Frederick, Little Axe, Purcell and Washington. “Although our district had quite a bit of a facelift with the redistricting, we’re still in it with Washington,” head football coach Mat McIntosh said. “In our district, they’ve been the king of the hill and someone’s going to have to knock them off. Purcell also looks to be a big challenge.”
OFFENSE Offensively, expect to see more of what fans have become accustomed to in recent years. “We’ll be a spread, predominantly, one-back, fourwide offensively,” McIntosh said. “There will be a little bit of a twist this year in the fact that we incorporate a tight end a little bit more.” The Royals will be replacing a three-year starter at quarterback with a soon-to-be three-year defensive starter in Zach Darden. He’s been patiently waiting his turn and McIntosh and the rest of his staff can’t wait to see how it plays out for the Royals’ offense. “Zach started for us at corner last year, but then also saw action at receiver and was very productive for us there,” McIntosh said. “This year, he’s going to get his 56 | August 2022
shot to be QB1. We’re all excited for him.” Several names to keep an eye on along CCS’ offensive line are senior Luke Wells and sophomore AJ Shadid. “(Wells will) be the anchor to everything we do on that front,” McIntosh said. “He is a good ball player. He’s going to have a chance to play at the next level probably, and has some Division II offers already.” Shadid started every game for Community Christian last year as a true freshman and McIntosh and company are excited about his upside. “We’ve just got a handful of guys that are eager,” McIntosh said of his offensive line. “We’ll be really young up front. It looks like we’ll start one senior, four sophomores and a couple freshmen. We’re looking forward to those guys continuing to develop.” Another puzzle piece for the Royals’ offensive line is highly touted recruit and tight end Bai Jobe. While he’s being recruited for the defensive side of the football at the next level, that won’t stop McIntosh and the Royals from using his unique skill set offensively as well. “Our all-world, top recruit Bai Jobe is what’s got us thinking about the tight end package,” McIntosh said. “His skillset and size can help shore up a young offensive line when we run.” Community Christian returns its second-leading receiver from 2021 in Braxton Hartsock.
BY: JOSH HELMER
“He’s a really talented, sure-handed, good feet and hips guy when he gets the ball,” McIntosh said. “Last year as our season went along, he really did emerge as a No. 2 guy for us that provided a lot of offense. We need him to step up and move from a No. 2 guy to a No. 1 guy.” Another name to keep an eye on in the skill department offensively is Tag Holt. “He was our top JV guy offensively and played behind a senior for us in varsity,” McIntosh said. “He’s had a good offseason and spring. We’re just looking forward to big things from him.” Finally, look for Jasper Cain—a soccer standout—to make a splash. “Jasper’s going to be a slot receiver and a return guy for us,” McIntosh said. “His speed and shiftiness were really good through spring and our team camp.”
DEFENSE The Royals’ base defense is once again a 3-4 alignment that will blitz regularly. “We really expect our defense to continue to be one of the top in our classification,” McIntosh said. CCS has a great starting point up front defensively with Jobe who has verbally committed to Michigan State after garnering offers from the likes of Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.ong boydstreet.com
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“Every time he’s on the field, he gets better,” McIntosh said. “Look for him to continue to dominate coming off the end as an edge rusher guy, but, we’re going to move him around.
Drew Bradley and he started for us last year at outside linebacker. He’s gotten stronger and a little thicker in the weight room. Ben Willeford, he looks like he’s going to be one of our starting outside linebackers.
“In our team camps, we lined him up at defensive end, at nose guard and at an outside linebacker. We plan to really move him around to give us the best chance for not only him to succeed but the best chance for us to have some guys running free.”
“Inside, we’ve got Grayson Mcguire, who was in the rotation when the year started. We had some injuries last year and we moved Grayson from outside to inside linebacker and did a great job. With another year of experience, although he’s just a sophomore, we would be really surprised if he doesn’t end up being our leading tackler and the ringleader for us at our second level.”
Wells will be another two-way player for Community Christian, pulling the double-duty up front alongside an underclassman in starting nose guard Justin Montegomery. “It looks like our starting nose will be a sophomore kid, Justin Montegomery,” McIntosh said. “Luke Wells will play on that side of the ball as well, with Bai out there providing some explosiveness that most people aren’t used to seeing.” While Jobe will garner plenty of attention and headlines when he’s wreaking havoc up front, CCS’ best position group collectively just might be its linebackers. “Our linebacking corps, we really expect to be one of the real strengths for our team,” McIntosh said. “One of those outside linebackers is a junior by the name of
58 | August 2022
In the defensive backfield, Community Christian returns Darden, Quinn Colvin and Chris Gray. Gray started at safety a season ago, but the plan is to shift him over to the corner opposite Darden. Colvin will return to anchor one of the Royals’ safety slots, while the other looks to be filled by a sophomore in Tyndale McIntosh. CCS is also excited about an edge they feel they might have in the kicking game with three-year starter Carter Lowry. “As long as we get a good shot for him, we’re never worried about him being able to push that ball through the uprights,” McIntosh said. “We consider that a pretty big weapon that we have that not every small school has.” – BSM
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HI GH S CH O O L S P ORTS
t was another tough season for the Little Axe Indians. They fell to a 0-10 record, but it’ll be a lot different this season. The Indians find themselves in class 2A, after being 3A in the previous two seasons. Stroad Lanham will be the head coach, after spending one year as the offensive coordinator. “It’s been going really well so far,” Lanham said. “We’re starting to get some buy-in from our players and getting the right pieces put together. I’m really pleased with where we’re heading into the season.”
OFFENSE The offense will have some big shoes to fill, but it all starts with the quarterback. Senior Michael Carter (6’4”, 210) will be the signal caller this season after the Indians graduated Kody Dellinger a year ago. Carter has played tight end for the Indians the past two years while playing defensive end and linebacker. It will be quite a transition for Carter, but Lanham says he’s adjusted well to the position change. “He’s ready to step into our quarterback role for us,” he said. “He’s done a great job of latching onto the offense and taking control. He was a great tight end for us last year, and we expect him to fit right in at the quarterback position.” The Indians return most of their offensive weapons, which is a great sign for first-year head coach Lanham. Junior Jesus Kirkes (5’8”, 150) will be the “swiss army knife” for the offense. Kirkes will play running back and 62 | August 2022
will also spread out to receiver. Junior Jacek Graymountain-Gross (5’10”, 170) is another guy Lanham likes in the offense based on his athleticism and durability. Gross has primarily made his impact on defense but has found himself in a bigger offensive role as a receiver. “He’s our leading receiver returning, and we love what he provides for us on offense,” Lanham said. “The guy has gotten a lot bigger and a lot faster throughout the summer. He’s a player that we’re looking for to take the top off the defense and let Michael and Jesus do the rest.” The offensive line has dealt with a fair number of injuries the past two seasons, but the unit is healthy for the 2022 season. It features senior guards Chadd Krizz (5’10”, 240) and Silas Mason (5’9”, 320). Krizz is the leader up front for the Indians and he has plenty of experience throughout his high school career. The tackles display size and length with junior Chase Gentry (6’1”, 225) and senior Maddux Clifford (6’3”, 210). “We like this group,” Lanham said. “They’re big and physical, and very smart up front. We will count on most of those guys playing both on the offensive line and defensive line.”
DEFENSE As expected, most of the offensive linemen will play on the defensive line. Krizz is a three-year starter returning for the Indians and will be relied on to make plays up front. Expect to see Mason, Gentry and Clifford round out the defensive line unit. There will be some
BY: CONNOR PASBY
new faces from a year ago, but Lanham loves the size they provide for 2A football. “We’re really looking for Krizz to make that next jump,” he said. “The first three plays in team camp he had three tackles for loss. He’s a guy that we’re going to rely heavily on to make plays and be a leader for us.” We will see the same situation as last season with most of the players playing both sides of the ball. The back end of the defense will feature junior safety Maddox Woods (5’10”, 155), who’s another three-year starter for the Indians. Lanhman loves the experience Woods provides. “By the looks of him, he’s not very big, but he’s extremely talented and fearless,” he said. “He will be our quarterback in the back end of our defense.”. The Indians are trying to break a two-year skid of winless seasons. Despite the losing droughts, Lanham wants to take it one game at a time and says the winning will come. “I’m not typically a guy that circles games that I’m looking forward to playing,” he said. “My main thing I told the players is we will find ways to win. They haven’t won in a very long time, and I confidently feel that we can turn that around. We have the right pieces heading into the season, and our coaching staff has done a great job.” The Indians are scheduled to open the season against North Rock Creek on Sept 1. They will open district play Sept. 22 against Community Christian at home. – BSM
BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 63
TO THE SAFETY OF OUR COMMUNITIES
S P O RT S
MEET THE PLAYERS Local student athletes share what makes their community, school, team and coaches unique.
SR • 5’9” • 162
Brayden Dorney SR • 6’ • 171
Safety & Wide Receiver
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE SEASON?
I expect every single one of my teammates to improve and learn very valuable lessons this season.
To have over 1000 total yards and 10-plus touchdowns personally, and be a contributing factor for the team as we make it and excel into the playoffs.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT PLAYING FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
The opportunity to show people the love of God through me.
The crowd and energy of NN is great. We have a loud and supportive student section, especially during the Crosstown Clash. We are coached and trained to succeed.
BESIDES YOUR CURRENT POSITION, WHAT POSITION WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY AND WHY?
Running back because of the intensity.
I would have a blast on the other side of the ball as a corner or safety.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE ATHLETE?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT IN YOUR ATHLETIC CAREER?
All the times I was able to outrun defenders.
Scoring three touchdowns and going for nearly 200 receiving yards in the 2021 Crosstown Clash.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG TO LISTEN TO BEFORE YOU PLAY?
The silence in the locker room
“Energy” by Drake
WHAT IS YOUR TWITTER HANDLE?
WHAT POSITION DO YOU PLAY?
66 | August 2021
BY: THE PLAYERS
Colin Fisher SR • 6’3” • 200
Michael Carter SR • 6’4” • 210
Tight end & defensive end
Wide receiver & corner back
Make it as far in the playoffs as possible.
I believe we will have a very successful season. We have a very talented team and a great coaching staff and when we click we can be very dominant.
Many people expect us to take a step back because of the seniors we lost from last year, but I fully expect us to have the best year of football that CCS has ever had.
The community and the people I go to school with and their support.
I love the guys on the team and the coaching staff makes us better every day so it’s just a great experience.
The sense of family. Not only do I feel loved by my teammates but also by the coaches because I know that they invest so much time and effort to help us get better as a player and a person.
Tight End because I would want to go out for routes and catch touchdowns.
Running back. I think it’s fun. I love going out on routes so that just gives me the best of both worlds.
Outside linebacker. I’ve played that position before in JV and those games were some of the most fun games of my entire life.
Throwing the game winning touchdown to win in overtime against Ardmore.
In 7th grade, in my first ever game, we beat Millwood 20-0 and I had picked up a fumble on the 40-yard line and returned it for a touchdown.
Max day where we find our max lifts for squat, deadlift and bench. My junior year, I had worked all summer trying to make it into the 800-pound club and on max day I made it by two pounds.
“’Till I Collapse” by Eminem
Skillet, AC/DC, J. Cole & Kanye West
“Leave Me Alone” by NF and “Hell’s Comin with Me” by Poor Man’s Poison
Christopher Gray SR • 5’11” • 155
BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 67
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Fresh Face Norman Regional welcomes new internal medicine provider to Norman
orman Regional Health System welcomes Brandy Reeves, APRN, FNP-BC, to its Internal Medicine – Doctors Park clinic.
Reeves is a certified advanced practice registered nurse who worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse for seven years prior to becoming an APRN. Reeves received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 then received her Master of Science in nursing, specializing as a family nurse practitioner, from Spring Arbor University in 2021. “My background as an adult critical care nurse has allowed me the unique opportunity to see firsthand how chronic disease processes can lead to life-threatening emergencies and/or acute critical illnesses,” Reeves said. “This has shown me how imperative it is that patients in the community have accessible healthcare managed by knowledgeable, skillful and professional providers who work compassionately and diligently in their aid to educate, prevent and manage ailments and disease – with aim of preventing adverse events or medical emergencies such as these from occurring or recurring.” Her special interests include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, chronic kidney disease, women’s health and neurologic disorders. Reeves said that as an advanced practice provider, her
70 | August 2022
goal is to enhance her patients’ positive health outcomes and to provide thorough patient education to help her patients have a clear understanding of their care plan. “I will utilize my skills to take thorough health histories, perform advanced health assessments, use critical thinking and my problem-solving skills to get to the root of an issue, work with multidisciplinary teams, and use effective interpersonal communication to provide trustworthy and holistic, patient-centered healthcare,” Reeves said. She added that she will blend her medical knowledge with cultural competencies and bias elimination to provide her patients the best care possible. When she’s not working, Reeves enjoys hiking, camping and spending weekends at the lake with her family. She also has a passion for traveling and exploring new places, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people from around the world. She said her favorite places to travel to are “anywhere there are beautiful reefs full of marine life to scuba dive.” Internal Medicine – Doctors Park is located at 500 E. Robinson St., Suite 2400 in Norman. Reeves is accepting new patients. Call the clinic at 405-515-0380 to schedule an appointment. – BSM
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S ERV I C E S P OT L I G H T
BY: LINDSAY CUOMO
Lt. Cheyann Brophy
childhood of watching movies and television shows centered around police work sparked a passion in Cheyann Brophy, who knew from an early age that she wanted to work in law enforcement. After high school, Brophy enlisted in the Army National Guard, a decision that further solidified her heading down a career path toward her goal to work in law enforcement. During her four and half years of service in the Army National Guard, she also worked with the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office.
She said she is grateful for the opportunity to learn and to advance her career. “I am forever grateful for the County to have trusted me and put me in leadership positions,” she said. Brophy is now moving into a new role as a lieutenant in the school resource officer division. She will now work with other school resources officers assigned to area schools and has spent the summer acclimating to the new position and getting ready for the new school year.
During her time with the Sheriff’s Office, she learned there was more than the heroics she saw on the screen.
“I will be roving around making sure that my team has what they need,” she shared.
“On TV, you would see actors doing ‘cool guy’ stuff, chasing bad guys down and things like that,” Brophy shared. “But in real life, it is not like that. You spend a lot of time helping people and the community.”
Brophy grew up in eastern Cleveland County, except for a short time when her family moved to Montana. She is now raising her 3-year-old son, Parker, here, and they love to spend time outdoors and shopping.
In 2017, Brophy applied to work for the Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer at the county jail. She worked her way up through the ranks to captain.
Brophy said, as a mom, she is excited to work with students, teachers and staff at area schools and thinks that this division is a long-term home professionally.
“The jail taught me so many things about law enforcement,” she said. “It is a great place to start for young people like myself. It teaches you how to talk to people and all the basic skills you need to know, the biggest thing is how to deal with people in a mental health crisis because we dealt with that daily.”
“My goal had always been being a patrol officer but, now taking on this leadership position in the schools, I look forward to the impact we can have for kids and being there when they need us,” she said.
74 | August 2022
This is a continuation of our series on public servants in Norman.
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The Pros and Cons of Buying a Car in 2022 I
f you’re in the market for a new-to-you vehicle, you’re likely prepared to experience sticker shock. It’s no secret that prices on new and used cars have soared since the beginning of 2020, and experts aren’t expecting them to fall anytime soon. In addition, supply is low and finding your dream car can be challenging. Here’s what you need to know about the state of the market, as well as the pros and cons of buying a car in 2022.
THE STATE OF THE MARKET Prices on new and used cars are at all-time highs, thanks to the trickle-down effects of the pandemic. During the months-long lockdown, production of new vehicles and car parts halted. At the same time, the demand for new cars increased exponentially as many drivers moved from cities to suburbs. In addition, lots of consumers shunned public transportation out of safety concerns. When production resumed, manufacturers were unable to maintain their pre-pandemic output, let alone meet the increased demand, thanks in part to a shortage of car parts and an ongoing lack of labor.
ly, inflation and supply-chain issues have hit the pockets of the average American in a big way. The car market does seem to be improving, but there’s no way to know how the Russia-Ukraine conflict will affect the supply of new cars over the next few seasons. If you find a car you like, you may just want to grab it while you can.
The used-car market has been hit most by the pandemic. First, the prohibitive prices and short supply of new cars has pushed more consumers to shop for used cars instead of new vehicles. Supply is low, as car rental services, which generally sell their cars to dealers, experienced a severe decline in business for a full quarter and held onto their used cars for longer. The unbalanced supply and demand have driven the prices of used cars up to an average of $41,200, according to car-buying app CoPilot.
CONS OF BUYING A CAR NOW •
Reluctant sellers - A seller’s market means many dealerships will not be as eager to close a deal as they generally would be under typical market conditions. Don’t count on negotiating the sticker price on the car down to a lower price. Processing a car loan may take longer as well.
Though production of new cars has since picked up and the used car market has recovered a bit, it’ll be a long time before the market completely stabilizes and prices drop.
Higher prices - Of course, the biggest disadvantage to purchasing a car in 2022 is facing higher prices. New cars are retailing at $40,000, on average.
Low supply - Unfortunately, you’ll likely have slim pickings when buying a car this year. Some car companies have officially delayed the rollout of newer models for later in 2022 as manufacturers are still scrambling to catch up with the gap in production.
PROS OF BUYING A CAR NOW Purchasing a car in 2022 won’t come cheap, but there are several advantages to buying a car now: •
Favorable interest rates - Rates are climbing, but they are still relatively modest.
Get your wheels while you can - While no one can predict the future, the last couple of years have been especially tough for consumers. Most recent-
78 | August 2022
If you decide to go ahead and purchase a new or used car this year, anticipate these disadvantages:
The most recent data shows that auto loans at credit unions are a full two points lower, on average, than auto loans through banks. Car prices may be soaring, but credit unions continue to deliver lower rates and quality service you can really bank on.
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L I FEST Y L E
BY: KATHY HALLREN | JOE’S WINES & SPIRITS
It’s a Fine Time for Wine & More
ailgating season is back, and it is time to party in Norman! Get tailgate ready with some new wine and wine cocktails.
Beat the heat by getting yourself some wine glasses that go in the freezer. They keep your wine chilled without watering it down. Stem and stemless options are available. Think outside the box and go beyond Sangria when serving chilled red wine. Red Moscato is best with a good chill. Qu.Ale Italian Red is extraordinary when chilled to 46°-50°F. But, nothing says it’s a party like bubbly, served well chilled. Make it easy by buying 187ml bottles. Many of your favorite brands are available in this format, including Chandon, Ruffino Prosecco, Korbel and Cooks. Sparkling wine is made in many countries with different styles. Champagne comes only from Rheims France, except for a few wines made in the U.S.A. prior to trademark enforcement. Cremente is a sparkling wine made anywhere else in France using the traditional method. It is generally semi-dry to dry and is fermented in the bottle.
82 | August 2022
Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine from the Asti area in Italy. Made from the Glera grape, Prosecco is drier, and most are fermented in tanks making it a more economical choice. Cava is made in Spain in the traditional method, primarily from three Spanish grapes. It also is semi-dry to dry and is generally a very economical choice for entertaining. American sparkling wine may be anything from carbonated wine to being produced in the traditional method. Price is generally the indicator of the production method. Chandon, Mumm’s, Piper and Gruet are a few produced using the traditional method. An easy way to make a champagne cocktail is to drop two or three pearls of Cocktail Cavier (no fish eggs involved!) in your glass. These pearls are infused with vodka and are available in raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and lychee. They add a fun, tasty element to sparkling wine. Enjoy! Kathy
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What’s Eating Norman
88 | August 2022
loha Norman! The dining experience of native Hawaii arrived in Norman in June courtesy of Kimo and Kalani Mack. Growing up on the island of O’ahu with a strong culture of aloha (love) rooted in Ohana (family), aina (land), the ocean and traditions, the brothers wanted to share the experience of a homemade, family-style meal made with love. It is the heart of Mo’ Bettahs. Founded in Bountiful, Utah in 2008, the goal of Mo’ Bettahs is to transport guests to an authentic Hawaiian island experience like the one Kimo and Kalani had during their childhood summers in Kauai. “Kimo and Kalani wanted to share Hawaiian food like what they ate in their grandma’s backyard,” said Rob Ertmann, president of Mo’ Bettahs. “It’s authentic, quality food that’s not touristy like Waikiki, but old plantation style from the windward side of the island.” Starting in the early days of pineapple plantations and sugar cane fields, workers in the fields came from different backgrounds and various parts of Asia. Their lunches were a fusion of flavors with large portions of rice and a protein. It is the backbone of the “build your plate” style of meal that at Mo’ Bettahs features a choice of traditional Hawaiian-style meat, white or brown rice and a creamy island flavor macaroni salad. The macaroni salad has received rave reviews and is a secret family recipe that Kalani spent two years refining. Ertmann said it’s not just about the ingredients but also how Guava Cake it’s prepared. “We are careful about the quality control of our macaroni salad,” he shared. “Everything is made on-site. We use our burners to boil the noodles and it’s also about how we mix the mayonnaise with the other ingredients.” Focusing on a limited number of protein choices makes it so “everything (they) do, (they) do well,” Ertmann said.
Photo by: Mark Doescher
Mo’ Bettahs Steaks was the original name before finding out the chicken was the number one seller. The best-selling item at Mo’Bettahs is the teriyaki chicken. Known for their teriyaki sauce, it is drizzled over the top of the chicken with more available on the side. It’s also available in a bottle for purchase.
BY: ROXANNE AVERY Ertmann said the unsung hero on the menu is the grilled Peluha chicken seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic. The Katsu chicken is butterflied, dipped in an egg batter mix, rolled in panko and fried. “We don’t cook anything off-site,” Ertmann said. “We bring everything in raw and cook it on the big grill customers see behind the ordering area.” The teriyaki steak is also very popular along with the Kalua pig which is cooked for 12 hours in an oven. “We were so busy our first two days in Norman that we were running out of pork because we didn’t have enough oven space. You can’t shortcut that,” Ertmann said. The seafood item on the menu is tempura shrimp dipped in a seasoned batter and fried. Plate sizes include a mini or regular plate with two meats or “Da Big Boy” (Ekolu) with three meats. The Ohana meal is big enough to feed an entire family. A Pake salad is available without meat or a choice of one meat with romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, mandarin oranges and crispy wonton strips. A variety of beverages are offered including a Hawaiian Sun. The décor inside Mo ’Bettahs includes plantation-style tin roofs that mimic Kimo and Kalani’s grandparent’s home. Decorative colors include greens, reds, golds and browns that represent aina (land) and the natural beauty of the islands. To pay homage to their heritage, the state flag of Hawaii is hung in every location. Each surfboard and paddle are hand-made in Hawaii. Most have been used in the Hawaiian waters and each tells a story, contributing to the uniqueness of island living. Shaped specifically for the constant swells that grace the islands, surfboards and paddles carry the mana (power/influence) of those who have made and used them. “We want to educate people that Hawaii is more than tiki torches and Hulu dancers,” Ertmann said. “We want people to experience what people who actually live there to experience.” Mo’ Bettahs in Norman is located in the University Town Center at 2081 24th Avenue NW Ave. – BSM BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 89
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