, Muskogee, OK


November 4, 2012

PLAYER OF THE WEEK/HONOR ROLL Week 10: FGHS senior goes one up on himself

— Jake Gandara laughed when someone asked if he was making this a habit, being named the Phoenix Player of the Week, the final one for the 2012 season, for the second straight week.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior ran for a school-record and game-high 397 yards on 31 carries and scored five touchdowns in the 49-42 victory against Sallisaw this past Friday.

A week ago, he ran for 200 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Not surprisingly, Gandara said this weekend that he was feeling Friday’s game.

“Everybody’s sore and tired,” he said. “You need a lot of energy running the ball, but I also have been playing free safety for the last two games.”

Gandara, though, enhanced his credentials as a running back with his latest performance. He broke the record of 319 yards by Patrick Holybee against Grove in 1993.

“One of our assistant coaches told me after the game how many yards I had,” Gandara said. “I had no idea. I thought something was wrong with the statistics. I didn’t think I had that much. I guess I did.”

Fort Gibson coach James Singleton said Gandara’s performance against the Black Diamonds ranks higher for him than his showing against the Stilwell Indians in week nine.

“It came against a much better opponent in a traditional rivalry,” the second-year Tigers’ coach said. “Fort Gibson had not beaten them since 2004. Sallisaw has an outstanding program and a great team. We just got on Jake’s shoulders.”

Gandara increased his season’s totals to 1,781 yards on 177 carries (10.1 yards per carry) and 25 touchdowns. He’s quick to credit others for his latest showing.

“We controlled the line of scrimmage and our linemen played their tails off,” he said. “My fullback (Seth Taylor) and wide receivers also did a great job.”

Gandara’s not the first player to earn the Phoenix weekly honors twice this season. Wagoner’s Lawrence Evitt won it in weeks four and seven.

With all respect to Evitt, Singleton prefers Gandara on his team.

“He has all of the physical attributes of a great running back,” the Fort Gibson coach said. “He has great vision and acceleration. He’s now taking 10-15-yard runs and turning them into 60 yards. Three or four guys had him wrapped up the other night and he broke loose to take it to the house.”

Gandara felt bad that his showing overshadowed the school-record tying four interceptions by Jordon London.

“He played awesome,” Gandara said.

London, Gandara and the rest of the Tigers will host Oologah in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs this Friday.

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