By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
The Haskell Haymakers needed quarterback Alex Wheeland in the worst way Friday night.
And not taking snaps.
Wheeland, the Phoenix Player of the Week for the fifth week of the regular season, was summoned to take over running back duties from injured Jordan Presley, who suffered a high ankle sprain in week 3 against Spiro. After the Haymakers struggled last week, coach Greg Wilson and staff opted for this move.
Enter Brody Enkey at quarterback. From the tailback spot, Wheeland ran wild, garnering 294 yards on 23 carries with touchdowns of 41, 46, 39 and 60 yards. He also passed from his new spot to Dillon Dobbins for a 14-yard touchdown and ran a punt back 68 yards.
That amounted to 442 all-purpose yards and on defense, he had five tackles and a forced fumble. Haskell won a critical District 2A-5 game against Holdenville, 47-20 to avoid an 0-2 start in league play and move to 2-3 overall.
“He’s just that kind of athlete. We didn’t fear he wouldn’t get the job done,” Wilson said of the 6-foot, 150-pounder.
Haskell had struggled with losses to Spiro and state-ranked Meeker minus an effective run game. Presley’s backup, Trey Lang, had been banged up as well so Friday, Lang was limited to defense and Wheeland gave way to Enkey.
“It was a matter of weighing out where he’d be most effective. He was more than willing to make the change. Enkey’s been in his shadow and we felt he would be capable. He’s a smart kid and the one advantage Wheeland has had is his athleticism. And that’s what he showed Friday.
“This was an example of what we’ve told our senior group, and that is what it’s going to take selling out for the team’s sake. And that’s the type of kid Alex is, the kind who will tell you ‘whatever you need me to do.’
Wheeland felt comfortable in the role.
“Usually at quarterback I never did let the game come to me. I did (Friday),” he said. “I’m the type who feels like I have to do more than what I actually have to do. I told myself all I could do was run and let everyone else pick up the blocks. They did, and when they bounced me to the outside (a lot of times) I didn’t look back.”
The senior will return to his quarterback duties in a non-district game against Tishomingo this week as Presley is expected to return. Thanks to Wheeland, the Haymakers are still very much in the thick of the 2A-5 race.
“If we come out and do everything right, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Wheeland said. “Okemah and Stroud will be the next two big games and I think we can win both.”
The leader most assuredly has confidence.
“We’ve got to get back to building that,” Wilson said. “Last year going into Meeker we were 3-0 but we lost, so again we were 0-1 going into Holdenville. In this district, you don’t want to finish fourth and go to Vian, so every game from here on out is a must win.”