, Muskogee, OK


October 17, 2012

Jenks looming ahead for Roughers

— It’s Jenks week, which isn’t great news for a struggling Muskogee Roughers football team.

But Roughers coach Josh Blankenship got some good news off the field after Monday’s practice. His wife Lindsay gave birth to the couple’s third child, Deacon Lee. It’s his second son.

Naturally, Blankenship was with his family on Tuesday, turning over practice for a day to co-offensive coordinator Jason Medrano and defensive coordinator David Heath. He is expected back by Thursday’s final home game of the season against Jenks.

At hand when he returns is probably the season’s toughest task. The Trojans (5-2, 4-0) are alone at the top of the 6A-2 heap, having knocked off the last of the unbeatens in Broken Arrow (24-7) two weeks ago and then last week handling Westmoore 38-14. They’ve won five consecutive games since opening with a loss against Union (14-7) and DeSoto, Texas (46-27).

Their other district wins have come handily, 82-7 against Edison and 63-14 over Sapulpa, which spoiled the Roughers homecoming last week, 13-10.

Not a favorable comparison, but then, that’s the Jenks-MHS history for a while. It’s been since 1992 that Muskogee won on the football field, a 29-28 win at Jenks.  It’s been even longer (1985) since the Roughers beat the Trojans at Indian Bowl.

Only the forfeit of the 34-6 outcome in 2008, when Jenks was stripped of all district wins that OU recruit Jarrett Lake had participated in, has interrupted a 21-game streak of Trojans’ domination. Muskogee’s three semifinal teams of 2005-2007 were 0-4, including a 52-35 semifinal loss in 2006 and a 28-26 regular season setback in 2005.

The Trojans won last year’s contest, 42-6, in Blankenship’s first meeting with them coaching a team not named Union — the place he played at and coached at as an offensive assistant.

Muskogee has to climb back from a loss that put any hopes of a rally to a postseason berth almost out of reach. The Roughers (1-5, 1-3) trail Westmoore and Putnam City by a game for fourth place and the last playoff seed. By winning out, MHS would need Westmoore to lose twice to avoid a tiebreaker, which based on head-to-head and current tiebreaker points would not favor the Roughers. Westmoore plays Sapulpa, Edison and Broken Arrow. Sapulpa and Broken Arrow have one district loss and Edison sits in the cellar.

Realistically, an MHS loss to Jenks and wins in its final two games would require Westmoore to lose twice for even a tiebreaker. The Roughers face Putnam City next week and close against Bixby. Putnam City plays Bixby on Thursday and closes against Jenks.

Essentially though, the Roughers’ fate is no longer in their hands. More than anything, it’s about a strong finish.

“(Friday’s loss) was a letdown for all of us but our overall goal is to build a solid program and we’ve got two weeks after this game,” Medrano said before practice Tuesday. “It’s a tall mountain for us this week, but that’s why you play the game.

“We asked the kids yesterday, why not us? What to they have that we don’t? We practice like they do, scheme like they do, show up and put our stuff on like they do. If we play like we believe we’re capable of playing, we have a chance. That’s how we have to look at it.”

Defensively, Heath said stopping Jenks’ running attack, led by TreyVonne Barr’e, will be his unit’s focus. Barr’e has averaged 8.5 yards per carry this season.

“We want to make them throw the ball to beat us,” he said.

And therein will be a challenge. Kyle Alexander is the Trojans’ quarterback. His top target is Jordan Smallwood, an Oklahoma commit.

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