All-Star efforts of PHS gridders not enough in Pawnee Bill game

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
All-Star efforts of PHS gridders not enough in Pawnee Bill game

PAWNEE — Bryce Wilson continued to do what he does best Friday night in the 14th-annual Pawnee Bill All-Star Football Classic.

At linebacker, Wilson made an interception and recovered a fumble which helped keep his All-Star Blue team in victory contention. As a receiver, the recently-graduated Pawhuska High School dynamo earned an Offensive MVP Award after catching five passes, including one for a TD. All of the passes were thrown by another former Huskies’ star, quarterback Zalin Edwards.

The valiant efforts of the PHS duo were not quite enough, however, as the White All-Stars claimed a 19-8 triumph in the showcase exhibition at Pawnee Memorial Stadium. A pair of passing touchdowns in the closing minutes of the second quarter gave the White team a lead they never relinquished and another aerial TD at the end of the third stanza insured the win.

Edwards directed the Blue All-Stars on a seven-minute, 82-yard scoring drive off the second-half kickoff. A two-point run reduced the White advantage to 13-8 with 5:03 left in the third period. The Blue TD came on a fourth-and-10 play in which Edwards rolled right and tossed a 19-yard strike to Wilson in the back corner of the end zone.

Although devoid of points, the opening quarter was not lacking for excitement. The White All-Stars drove to within a foot of the goal marker on their initial series before a Blue defensive stand kept them off of the scoreboard. Two minutes later, the White squad breached the red zone again but were denied by Wilson, who picked off a pass at the 11 and returned it to midfield.

The scoring ice was finally broken nearly 20 minutes into the contest when the White All-Stars connected for their first TD. With 4:09 left before halftime, Cleveland’s Derek Reeves connected on a 34-yard TD pass to Yale Wideout Devion Sanders and an extra-point kick by Mannford’s Luke May made it 7-0.

On the game’s next possession, the Blue team advanced the ball inside the White three-yard line before turning it over on downs. An 18-yard run by Edwards (enhanced by a late-hit penalty) provided the biggest gain of the stalled drive.

Quarterback May quickly passed the White squad down the field. Only five seconds remained in the half when he threw 42 yards to Reeves, who made a strongly-contested catch in the end zone to give the White All-Stars a 13-point lead at the break.

The fumble recovery by Wilson stopped a White drive at the Blue 11-yard line with 3:45 left in the game. Edwards then led the Blue squad into White territory before an acrobatic interception by Mannford’s Jon Carter snuffed out the comeback at the 1:37 mark.

As a senior for the Huskies, Wilson intercepted six passes and recovered a pair of fumbles. He also caught 38 passes (including four for touchdowns) from Edwards, who passed for nearly 1,700 yards.

After helping Woodland win a Class A championship in 2010 and return to the finals in 2011, Edwards played his junior and senior seasons at Pawhuska. His father, Brian Edwards, was a Woodland assistant under head coach Joe Sindelar (who is now the PHS principal) and is now an assistant to Huskie head coach Bob Craig.

In Friday’s contest, Coach Edwards assisted the head coach of the Blue squad, Pawnee’s Marlon Houston, who formerly coached at Barnsdall. Also competing for the Blue All-Stars was Hunter Hansen, a 295-pound offensive lineman from the Barnsdall Panthers.

Recent Woodland High graduates Grant Moore and Cole Brumley were named as White All-Stars but did not participate in the game. Moore, a 270-pounder, wrestled for the PHS Huskies last season after an inter-district agreement was made between the two schools.

Other 2013-14 seniors representing the Blue All-Stars were from Alva, Chisholm, Cushing, Garber, Pawnee, Perkins, Sperry, Tonkawa and Tulsa Webster. White All-Stars came from Cleveland, Crescent, Davenport, DCLA, Drumright, Mannford, Perry and Yale.