Prep-level football in the area didn’t come to an end in December.
The seventh-grade team that went through Indian Nations Football League known as Muskogee White morphed, with a handful of additions, into the Oklahoma Gladiators for a trip to Las Vegas for the Pride Junior National Tournament this past week and on Saturday, fell just short of the title, losing 8-7 to the Nevada Elite Cowboys in a game played at Las Vegas’ Silver Bowl.
Overall they were 2-1 in the tournament, beating the Utah Highlanders 13-0 on Thursday, then winning 42-0 against Marietta, Calif., on Friday.
Muskogee White, under the direction of head coach Jason Medrano — the co-offensive coordinator for Muskogee High — went three rounds into the INFL playoffs last fall.
“We raised funds for this and added a few players with Muskogee ties from Tulsa. One of the donations was from a single donor locally of $15,000 which without it, we’d never been able to make the trip,” Medrano said. “Most of these kids will never make it out of Muskogee and they wound up with an experience of a lifetime.”
Medrano’s son, Jason, threw a TD pass to Devin Hillmon and Koby Tillman, son of former Muskogee High coach Toby Tillman, in the win over Utah. He threw three more TD passes, one to Khristian Hillmon, another to Devin Hillmon and the third to D.J. Mayes, while Karrington Ashley and Khristian Hillmon ran for one TD each in the California win. Joe Smith, a Tulsa pick up and Tucker Pawley of Bixby, also had TD runs.
Medrano to Devin Hillmon gave the Gladiators a 7-0 lead in Saturday’s contest. After the defense held Nevada inside the 5, a subsequent safety and a touchdown with about four minutes to go made the difference. A pass from Medrano to Devin Hillmon was ruled out of the back of the end zone as time expired.
Other players B.J. McVay, Noah Fields, Chase Gray, Bryan Perez, Sammy Webster, Joseph Vieira, Colyn Farley, Jacob Kaiser, Joseph Christie, John Smith, Justin Jones, Johnny Webster, Nathan Coffman and Braylen Duncan. Jaden McNac, Bradley Alvarez of the Muskogee Black squad during the fall season and Mike Edwards of Muskogee Silver were also brought along.