Weather delay can't keep 2018 Tigers from winning BA's first ever football Gold Ball
Interception seals 28-20 win over Jenks
After 108 years of Broken Arrow Tiger football what’s an extra two hour wait to win the school’s first Gold Ball?
The thrill in which the Tigers captured that Gold Ball.
The rush players and fans alike shared on the University of Tulsa Chapman Field turf for nearly an hour following the game.
The after party in the indoor facility that lasted until nearly 2 a.m.
Those three things seemed to make the 108-year wait and two-hour delay side notes to the 2018 Broken Arrow Tigers team journey, to what seemed all-season long, inevitable.
It was a Myles Slusher interception in the end zone that put the clamps on a Jenks Trojan comeback effort and ushered in Oklahoma’s Class 6A-I’s latest first-time champion – Broken Arrow 28, Jenks 20.
“I just saw him break down his hips, so I broke down too,” Slusher said while swallowing in the postgame emotion. “It just so happened that I made a play on the ball.”
The Tigers had just held Jenks on downs when, with 4:38 to play, lightning became the story of the night. For the next two hours and nine minutes anyway. Play resumed at 4:38. Then some two minutes of game clock time, and nearly 20-yards of Tiger offense later, the Trojans had the ball back with a chance to send the game to overtime. This year, however, the ghost of three previous state title games would do no haunting. The 129-minute stoppage of play would not be a killjoy for these Tigers.
“It was just in my mind that it was my last five minutes of Broken Arrow football,” said senior lineman DeMeco Roland. “Why not win. Why not win.”
Why not, indeed. In a season where the Tigers had rolled over opponents in games 5 through 11 by an average score of 56-4, games 12 and 13 did not come as easily. And though the score was closer in the 10-7 semifinal win over Owasso, this one seemed to have pushed the 2018 Tigers to a point that brought out a little more resiliency.
“What did I tell you?” Coach David Alexander asked an excited group of Tigers and pretty much every other BAHS student and Tiger fan who came onto the field to celebrate after sticking around for the finale’. “You had to play every 48 minutes and every second of that dang game, and it took it to win it. I am really, really proud of you men. You have been an amazing team to coach.”
Amazing and undefeated, 13-0, team. (Check out complete State Championship game stats)
“You don’t set off the season to be perfect,” Alexander said. “You set off the season to hopefully give yourself a shot to win the last game. We got off on such a good roll and the confidence kept building. We kept getting better and we figured out a way to win this ball game.”
The coaches had this team prepared to win. Even to the point of discussing and planning for the weather delay.
“I was a little tired, because it gets you a little lackadaisical,” senior linebacker Gavin Potter admitted. “But to come out here and be a champion; I’ve waited for that my whole life.”
He also was anticipating a play, like the Slusher’s game-clinching interception, the 16th for the Tiger secondary this season. That’s the third best total in team history.
“It had me pumped,” Potter said of the pick. “I know my secondary is so good. I was waiting all game for my secondary to get one. I knew it was coming.”
Two weeks ago, Aaron “Tricky” Stokes had a momentum-changing interception against Owasso. This time, it was Slusher’s turn.
“There were a lot of bends tonight,” said Travis Hill, BA defensive coordinator. “But we made a lot of good plays when we had to.”
Hilll wasn’t just talking about on the defensive side, pointing out fourth down plays that included a completion to keep a TD drive going in the third quarter. That touchdown, a Quintevin Cherry three-yard run, was a fourth down play. Another key fourth down came on the first possession after the delay. That Noah Cortes one-yard run allowed the Tiger to use up a little more clock.
“It’s a team game and it was fun tonight to see everybody get together and get it done,” Hill said.
It wasn’t all fun and games for the tireless defensive coach.
“Honestly, I was stressing on it,” Hill confessed. “The bottom line is big players make big plays. What a lot of people don’t understand is that it just doesn’t take great athletes to win this, it takes kids with great class, too. And we have some kids with great class.”
And some kids with Broken Arrow’s first football gold ball.