Talk circulated in the media throughout the summer about Broken Arrow possibly having a breakthrough year. It may have been an indication when the Class 6A1 No. 2-ranked Tigers made a statement in a 33-10 win over top-ranked Union before a sellout crowd of 11,000 people in its season opener Aug. 24 at Memorial Stadium.
Several players made big plays in the game. That included running back Noah Cortes, who scored two touchdowns while rushing for 157 yards.
In an interview 10 days prior to the win, Cortes talked about seeing Owasso win last year’s Class 6A-I state title, breaking a 21-year run in which Union or Jenks won the highest classification in Oklahoma.
“It was just something different to look at (to see someone besides Union or Jenks winning the title),” Cortes says. “I was at that championship game watching and I got out on the field afterwards and just absorbed all the energy, all the hype, that they got the gold ball and stuff. So, I just know how we can do it, how we can get there and do the same thing. It just motivates you.”
Cortes, a 6-0, 215-pound senior, is driven by a hard-work ethic, dedicated to his role and his teammates. He sees his toughness as his best attribute as an athlete and was thrilled when practice started back up last month.
“Just being out there with my brothers again and getting ready for the season,” Cortes says. “There is just no better feeling than that.”
As a junior last year, Cortes scored 13 touchdowns while rushing for 1,617 yards on 219 carries. As a receiver, he caught 14 passes for 122 yards and a TD. For his prep career, he has totaled 21 TDs with 2,485 yards on 403 carries. He had a phenomenal performance in the Tigers’ first round playoff win against Norman North, totaling 305 yards on 40 carries with two TDs.
“I love being out there wide and catching the ball,” he says. “I can catch the ball just as good as I can run the ball. So, I practice on my craft running the ball and practice on catching the ball every day after practice.
“It’s (compiling numbers) just amazing,” Cortes says. “I just give all glory to God, because without Him, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Cortes’ favorite NFL running backs are Marshawn Lynch, Le’veon Bell and Christian McCaffrey. His favorite NFL team is the Minnesota Vikings.
He recalls last season when the Tigers were faced with a 1-4 start. They would rebound to win six straight games including the playoff game against Norman North.
“We just had to look at something bigger,” Cortes says. “We couldn’t just focus on what everyone else was saying about as far as the losses. We just had to stay positive through all that and just keep on working.”
This year, Cortes and his teammates want a taste of that state championship, which would be a first for Broken Arrow.
“We just got to have better leadership this year, and work better as a team and not have individuals out there,” he says.
“This offseason training was amazing,” Cortes says. “Our team has gotten so much faster, I’ve gotten so much faster, stronger, just mentally stronger, our lead- ership is crazy. We’re so hungry for a championship. It hasn’t happened around here yet, but this is the year, because this group of guys around here, is just some- thing different.”
The Tigers play at Norman, Friday before homecoming against Westmoore on Oct. 5.
One hundred runs.
Let that sink in.
Since returning from their Labor Day weekend trip to Colorado, Broken Arrow Lady Tigers have outscored their opponents by 100 runs.
Let’s repeat. Outscored. Not just scored, but outscored. The absurd run differential is 109 to 9.
Broken Arrow has outscored its opponents by more runs than the other three 6A district leaders – Deer Creek, 97; Westmoore, 84; and Owasso, 73 – have scored since Labor Day.
“We are playing at a pretty high level right now,” an understated Randall King said after his team won the Class 6A-4 district title, 5-2, over Sand Springs at Lady Tiger Field Thursday night.
The second match up between the district’s top two teams, though carrying high stakes for a top regional seed, did not yield the same drama as the Sept. 13 game at Sand Springs. Broken Arrow scored five runs in the top of the seventh for a 5-2 win that night.
At home, on Tuesday, the teams were tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the second. A two-out triple by Grace Jarvis plated two runs, and BA held on for another 5-2 win as Kailee Reese pitched seven strong innings and struck out four.
“Right now, at the plate, each player is understanding what their job is with each at bat and that has led to us getting production throughout the line-up as well as people coming off the bench and doing good things,” King said.
While the offense is clicking and pitching and defense has improved, King is still expecting more consistency in the latter two aspects of the game.
“We need to continue to improve in both of those areas as well as cutting down on the number of lapses that we have,” the coach said of his team’s pitching and defense. “There are always times when you think you should have played better, but for the most part the girls have stayed focused and worked to improve with each game.”
The Lady Tigers four remaining regular season games are on the road. All are non-district games.
Regional tournaments are to be completed by October 6. As a district champion, Broken Arrow will host a regional. The date for the tournament has not been set.
For Kaizer Newell, the only player listed at the top of a defensive and offensive position on the Broken Arrow Tiger 2-Deep, it was a difficult truth to admit.
“It’s nice having the little rest,” he struggled to say the words about the Tigers’ Friday night off heading into district play. “I know it’s good for me, but I like playing every week. It kind of threw me off balance.”
In the third game against an Oklahoma opponent this year, Broken Arrow will play a third No. 1 vs. No 2 Class 6A-I game as No. 2 Jenks comes to town. The Tigers already have defeated Union and Owasso. So far so good.
The same could be said for Newell, who plays nearly twice as many snaps as the rest of his teammates. It’s the first time since ninth grade he has mixed in time on offense and defense. He played strictly offense the past two seasons.
“I’m in pretty good shape myself,” the fullback/defensive end said. “Well, good football shape, not conditioning shape.
“My body is just prepared for it. When I get in the game and start thinking about all the stuff we’re about to start doing and all the plays, I don’t think about how tired I am. I just keep my mind off of it and end up okay.”
Perhaps the best example of Newell’s refusal to listen to his own body came the Saturday after the Union game when he and his dad, Lantz, went to work on Kaizer’s 2001 three-quarter ton Dodge diesel truck.
“I tore my truck apart and put a new clutch in,” he said. “That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. I was so sore, getting under there and trying to lift up the transmission. That was tough, but it was fun.”
The clutch came in the day before, so Saturday was the day to do it. Newell is not one to shy away from work, whether it was summer conditioning, pitching in on his father’s construction jobs or tending to his own business with best friend and teammate Colton Collier.
And, outside of football, most of that work circles around his truck.
“My dad has a construction company and I pull trailers with it sometime,” Newell explained. “I have a wood-splitting business, so I need a truck to haul it with. Me and Colton, we get logs and do it all by hand because I don’t have a hydraulic splitter. We have to split it all with an axe, so that’s not very fun, but it keeps me in shape. We hall hay with it, too.”
While physical work on weekends is a mirror of his play on Friday nights, don’t discount Newell’s cerebral approach to the game – whether it be film work or what he sees happening before his eyes as the ball is about to be snapped.
“When I learned it all for offense the last two years, and then I got to defense and they were telling me what to do, I just put it in offensive terms,” Newell said. “I’m thinking this guys blocking this way, so someone else is coming to me.
“It helps me on offense and defense, because I can think about what is the objective of the guy I’m going to block, and what he is going to try to do to me whenever I get there to block him.”
Offensively, Newell is not always looking to block. He has gained six yards on four carries, with two of those carries resulting in touchdowns.
“Whenever I’m coming through the hole, the first person I see, the goal is to make sure he’s on his back by the end of the play,” the lead blocker for the Tigers top rusher Noah Cortes said. “But when I’m getting the ball, my goal is to make sure they’re still on their back no matter what.”
Odds are the only time you’ll find Kaizer Newell on his back will be by his choice, when he’s on the garage floor, looking up at the underside of a 2001 3/4 – ton Dodge Diesel truck.
Gwyn Cowan’s secret is out.
During the 2018 Broken Arrow Athletic Leadership Conference this summer, student-athletes were instructed to introduce themselves to someone they did not know. One of the “get-to-know-you icebreaker questions was “What is a talent most people don’t know you have?”
Cowan’s secret talent was the talk of the opening session. As word spread about what many had newly-discovered, when Cowan was around, classmates tended to request a sampling.
“My friends in leadership class ask me to do it all the time,” said Cowan, the six-foot-tall middle blocker for the Lady Tiger volleyball team obliges.
Listen to Gwen's Secret Talent. Yes, that is her and not your neighbor's Schnauzer.
Cowan cannot trace back to a time when she first barked like a dog or how she even learned the skill. There is no connection between her not-so-secret talent and her career dream of becoming a veterinarian,either.
Through Broken Arrow High School’s Career Exploration Program, Cowan is doing an internship with Good Shepherd Veterinary Clinic two hours each morning.
“I really like taking care of animals and stuff,” said the owner of two donkeys and two dogs. “I’ve learned never be afraid of the dogs, because if you’re afraid then they’re going to be more scared there is a better chance they could bite.
“Right now, I’m still getting used to where everything is. I have helped hold a couple of dogs when they are doing tests or taking blood. I’ll eventually start following around a vet when they do surgeries. It’s still really cool. I like the environment, and as I do more at the internship it seems like something that I could do the rest of my life.”
What she won’t be doing after the 2018 volleyball season ends is playing competitive volleyball any longer.
“I thought about doing volleyball in college and was going through the recruiting process, but I really want school to be my number one focus,” Cowan said. “It’s hard, because I’m going to miss volleyball. It’s sad. I don’t want it to be my last season, but I feel it will be best for me if I just focus on school.”
Cowan is “leaning” toward Oklahoma State University because of its veterinary program. Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, also is an option. She is looking into that school’s science programs to see if they would fall in line with helping her eventually get into vet school.
A career as a veterinarian would be perfect for Cowan, after all, it’s no secret that she can speak the language of many of her future patients.
Senior Blake McConkay and freshman Payton Hinkle captured gold medals in last Saturday’s Broken Arrow Tigers Cross Country Meet at the Oneta Ridge Course.
Hinkle’s time of 18:53 over the 5K course set a new school, course and meet record. Overall the Lady Tigers placed third behind Bishop Kelley and Jenks. Two other freshmen, Clarissa Sisson and Linsey Lee, placed 18th and 28th respectively. Sophomore Allison Bonham finished 30th and senior Ashley Wyatt was just two spots behind her. Fourteen teams and 105 runners competed in the varsity girls event.
In winning the team title, the boys had three racers in the top five, paced by McConkay’s time of 16:48. Andres Chapa, fourth place, ran a 17:03 and Jaxson Leming finished fifth, just two seconds back of Chappa. Holden Lenz and Nathan Ash placed 30th and 48th to round out the Tiger scoring in the event that featured 18 schools and 140 runners.
On the junior varsity side, Terra Wells, third place, was the highest finisher for the third place Lady Tigers. The JV boys also finished third and were led by Carson Detherage’s seventh place finish.
Broken Arrow’s junior high girls finished seventh and the boys came in second. Eli Hopkins came in second place overall in the junior high event.
Watch and listen to Tiger Football with Charlie Hannema and Steve Spavital on 97.1 FM, The Sports Animal.
All games through the state semifinals will be simulcast live on arrowvision.tv, the digital platform for Broken Arrow Public Schools. You can also watch on the district's youtube channel or a dedicated Broken Arrow Tigers channel on Roku and Apple TV streaming services.
During football season, catch Tiger Football live with Coach David Alexander 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at 97.1 The Sports Animal. Inside Tiger Football is also available anytime at arrowvision.tv.
Parents of Broken Arrow High School, Freshman Academy and middle school student-athletes may go online to complete necessary forms to assure their child is eligible to begin participation in school athletics.
The completion of such forms as the Emergency Consent Form, Concussion and Head Injury Acknowledgement Form and the Risk/Insurance/Transportation Consent Form is required before a student is eligible to participate in Broken Arrow athletics. Other online forms parents are required to complete include the OSSAA’s Eligibility and Recruiting Forms, the Social Networking Form and the Drug Testing Consent Form.
To begin completion of the forms parents will need to include their child’s first and last names and know their child’s student ID number. An electronic signature of one parent is required.
Student-athletes are also required to have a current physical on file in order to participate in Broken Arrow school-sponsored athletics.
Online completion of the required forms is more convenient for parents and will streamline the process for Broken Arrow athletic department administrators, coaches and trainers. Visit RankOneSport's website to start the online forms process.