MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

September 16, 2012

Prep football Player of the Week: Haskell junior in command

— Webster’s Dictionary defines leader as “a person who directs, guides or commands a group or activity.”

Friday against Spiro, Haskell quarterback Alex Wheeland was an example of that definition. The junior had a hand in all four touchdowns as the Haymakers came from behind to beat Spiro 24-14.

“Alex is doing a tremendous job maturing into a leader of the offense,” said Haskell coach Greg Wilson. “I use those words because he was put into that situation as a freshman and sometimes there can be too high of an expectation at an early age. He’s grown and matured as an athlete and learned to trust his teammates.”

Wheeland used his arm and his legs to earn the Week 3 Phoenix Prep Football Player of the Week. He had 19 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns and completed 5 of 7 passes for 150 yards and two more scores.

“(Spiro) stopped the running game pretty well in the first half, so we passed a lot,” Wheeland said. “In the second half, we were able to open up some holes and run the ball better.”

For the year, Wheeland has carried the ball 58 times for 398 yards, a 6.86 yards per carry average, and has completed 53 percent of his passes, leading the Haymakers to a 3-0 start for the first time since 1998.

“Alex worked hard over the summer on his technique,” Wilson said. “He’s always had a good arm but there’s a difference in having a good arm and being a good passer. His running is a natural type deal.”

Wheeland knows, as any good quarterback knows, that he would be nowhere without his offensive line. The team is averaging 232 yards on the ground and 175 yards in the air.

“Our line was OK last year,” Wheeland said. “This year, it’s really good. They come to practice everyday and work hard. I’m really thankful.”

While Wilson is comfortable with the fact that he doesn’t have to look for a quarterback for another two seasons, he knows that the one he has can be called upon to fill any spot, offense or defense.

“He’s so versatile that if the need be, and we needed him in another position, he’d do it,” Wilson said. “We’re blessed to have not only Alex but everyone on the team, We have a young squad with four total seniors so we’re looking towards the future for more than one reason.”

And Wheeland knows the future is bright for football in Haskell.

“We’ve learned to overcome adversity,” he said. “The last couple of years when one play happened we got down on ourselves. Even Friday night, we were losing but we overcame. When we overcome things, it’s a better season.”

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