As usual, the numbers tell the story.
It’s a complex tale of agony and ecstasy that is told by statistics from the recently-concluded 2013 Pawhuska High School football season. The Huskies reached the Class 2A playoffs for a fifth consecutive season while posting their second straight 4-7 record.
Veteran head coach Bob Craig took over the PHS football program just six months ago but has already made major strides in building for the future. As the Huskies’ third coach in as many years, Craig restored stability and will receive benefits from improvements to the community’s facilities.
"It’s kind of like making a wood pile," Craig said of the work he has ahead with the local program. "You’ve just got to keep chopping wood."
Craig said he and his staff have come a long way in their process of developing Pawhuska’s football future.
With this PHS squad, there were ups and downs, but always plenty of excitement. Senior standouts Bryce Wilson and Zalin Edwards stacked up some impressive numbers as they produced highlights on both sides of the ball. Fellow seniors Connor McNeil, Kendall Oller and Taylor Priest closed out their grid careers with strong efforts.
A trio of juniors — Marshall Tolson, Tyler Reece and Hayden Javellas — will give the Huskies a solid group to build around next season. Sophomores Hayden Henley and Matthew Taft emerged as future stars, while John Bighorse and Caleb Bruce played big roles as freshmen.
Here are some of the cumulative numbers for the 2013 season, accompanied by a little bit of half-baked analysis. Full defensive stats are not available. Suffice it to say that a lot of tackles were made and great effort went in to doing it. The players that did the most have probably been mentioned.
Pawhuska 229, opponents 266.
This translates to an average final score of 24-21. But, if you throw out the game against Class 4A powerhouse Metro Christian, the average score would be: PHS 21, Opponents 20. Senior QB Edwards threw 17 touchdown passes — including eight to Wilson, who also snagged a two-point conversion and rushed for a score. Edwards ran for 11 TDs. Freshman placekicker Caleb Bruce made 18 of 25 PATs and booted through his lone field-goal attempt, a 25-yarder versus Nowata.
Huskies 133, foes 156.
PHS cashed in a lot of long scoring plays, eliminating the possibility for added first downs. First downs consistently mirrored points scored, except versus Dewey in week 2 when Pawhuska held a 16-15 first-down advantage despite losing on the scoreboard, 30-26.
PHS 326-1127, other side 443-1852.
The Huskies were run over a few times, including in the playoff loss at Salina. PHS also showed it had some runners, including seniors Edwards, Priest, Wilson. Sophomore Taft started the year as a wide receiver, but had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in the second half of the season and finished with over 300 yards total and a six-yard-per-carry average. Wilson was shifted to the backfield late in the year and averaged around five yards-per-carry. Early in the year before moving to the line, freshman John Bighorse gained tough yards and scored a TD. For sheer excitement, nothing matched the Huskies’ first score of the year — a legendary 55-yard jaunt by Javellas.
Pawhuska 1696, foes 1170.
Eighty-four more yards, or about one good quarter, and Edwards would have thrown for a mile this year. McNeil caught four touchdown tosses, while Priest and Javellas grabbed two apiece and Taft had one.
Huskies 102-196, opposing teams 95-184.
A 52 per cent completion rate for Edwards included 17 touchdowns and a two-point conversion. PHS opponents completed passes at nearly as high a rate, but racked up 500-plus less yards and nine fewer TDs. Freshman Colton Hindman completed one pass for 20 yards.
PHS 13, others 11.
Would have been a good final score versus, say, Tonkawa. Wilson picked off six, with most of them coming in key situations. McNeil had a pair, while Bighorse, Edwards and Taft each made one.
Pawhuska 11, foes 7.
Lucky numbers. Unlucky difference cost Huskies dearly. Opponents yielded zero fumbles in first three games and last three games. PHS lost none in fourth game, versus Metro, and final two. Two most by either side in any game and it happened three times each. Sophomore Gage Dagenais had a pair of recoveries for the Huskies (and he also blocked a punt). Priest, another of the senior stalwarts, recovered one fumble. Donvan Guy also recovered a pair of loose balls and Sean Valencia had one (both are seniors). A pair of juniors, Trey Powell and Tolson, made a recovery each, as well.
Huskies 594, opponents 719.
Surprising and somewhat misleading totals given the consistent return policy established by Edwards and Taft. The other guys, obviously, just had way more opportunities.
PHS 40-30.5 yards, competition 34-30 yards.
At least six more of those returns probably came here. Plenty of variety all around, with some high-arc beauties as well as wind-blown and shanked ugly ducklings. The Huskies managed one clean block — Mssr. Dagenais against Hominy — but had two blocked by Metro Christian and two more in a win at Chouteau (that would have been easier without the blocks.
Pawhuska 73-564, other side 67-585.
A truly psycho stat for the Huskies, who improved after committing 10 infractions in the opener. Following a penalty-less game in a tough loss against Nowata, PHS rang up a season-high 15 flags for over 100 yards the next week at Ramona — where the normally free-swinging Trojans were merely called twice. PHS was generally penalized less against better competition. Extra personal fouls by the Huskies’ foes helped account for the extra yard per penalty they were assessed .
Pawhuska scored more points in the first quarter (69) than the others, with the second quarter producing the fewest (40). The opposition scored over 70 points in all quarters except the third, when the Huskies limited them to only 33. Inspiring halftime discussions, perhaps?