All-District football honors have been awarded to seven Pawhuska High School athletes, including Huskie seniors Bryce Wilson and Zalin Edwards — who were selected as the top players at their positions.
Four other PHS seniors — Connor McNeil, Wade Oller, Taylor Priest and Logan Bigeagle — also earned All-Oklahoma District 2A-7 recognition and John Bighorse, a freshman for the Huskies, was named as a member of the All-District team.
Edwards was designated as the district’s "Quarterback of the Year." It is the second straight season that Edwards has been a 2A-7 honoree. Last year, the 5-10, 170-pound transfer from Woodland (where he started on a state-championship winner) was named all-district as a defensive back.
Wilson received recognition as 2A-7’s "Outside Linebacker of the Year." At 5-11 and 180 pounds, he led the Huskies in tackles and also grabbed six interceptions. The sure-handed Wilson was considered one of the district’s elite wide receivers, as well.
During a 4-2 district campaign for the Huskies, Edwards passed for nearly 1,700 yards and threw 17 touchdown passes — including eight to Wilson, four to McNeil and two to Priest. The speedy Huskie QB also ran for 11 scores.
Pawhuska head coach Bob Craig said the honors given to his Pawhuska players were all well-deserved.
"It’s so rewarding for us as coaches when these hard-working young men are rewarded for their effort," said the first-year coach of the Huskies.
Bighorse accomplished a rare feat by being named to the All-District team as a ninth-grader. The 5-10, 190-pounder was selected at inside linebacker through voting by coaches from the seven-team district.
"It’s not very very common for any underclassmen to get picked, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a freshman make all-district," said Craig, a veteran of more than 30 years as a prep coach.
Craig called the all-district team selection of Bighorse "a pleasant surprise." The 5-10, 190-pound freshman started the year as a linebacker and saw early action at running back. Bighorse then spent time on the offensive line before finishing the year at nose guard on defense and as the offensive tight end.
The PHS coach pointed out that each of the honored players had been moved around to different positions "but they always performed at the same high level."
"They were never selfish," Craig said. "I think that is a tribute to both the kids and their parents."
McNeil, Priest and Oller were named as All-District players while Bigeagle garnered honorable mention for the 2A-5 squad. All four saw action on both offense and defense, usually as starters. Their positions changed regularly because of the needs of the team, Craig said.
He said the PHS coaching staff also should be recognized for their efforts in preparing the players and helping them adjust to new positions.
"It requires a total team effort and I’m proud to say we had that," said Craig.
With only a limited number of All-District positions available, and because of a general preference for older players, deserving underclassmen are invariably passed over. An example of that is the exclusion from All-District recognition of the outstanding junior for the Huskies, Marshall Tolson.
"I expect him to be there next year, for sure," the PHS coach said.