Coach: Homecoming experience may enhance ‘Battle of the Osage’

Mike Erwin

Given the caliber of the upcoming opponent, the Pawhuska High School football coaches are confident the Huskies will maintain their focus on this week’s responsibilities.

Homecoming activities start at 7 p.m. with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve talked to the boys about not letting the Homecoming activities become a distraction,” PHS coach Joe Tillman said. “I think they are aware of the problems that could cause.”

Tillman said the ones who played for the Huskies in last year’s game versus the Hominy Bucks are likely to remember the challenges that are at hand.

“They (the Bucks) are really good players and they have excellent coaches,” Tillman said. “I don’t think there’s anything we can say that will have more of an impact than just watching Hominy’s game films.”

A year ago at Hominy, the Bucks dominated and led, 14-0, after the opening period and 33-0 at the half. The hosts eased up on the overwhelmed Huskies in the last two quarters en route to a 40-0 final.

Hominy finished the 2015 season at 12-2. The Bucks advanced to the state semifinals, where they lost to Class A’s reigning champions, the Stratford Bulldogs.

Bucks’ senior running back Tanner McElyea scored four touchdowns a year ago against the Huskies, while senior Colt Wilson ran for one TD and returned a punt 70 yards for another. Senior quarterback Zaven Collins (6-4, 220 pounds) compiled nearly 2,500 yards of total offense last year.

With regard to this week’s Homecoming festivities, Tillman said he does not want to deprive anyone on the PHS squad from “having the full experience of high school homecoming.”

“I want them to enjoy themselves — whether they’re at school, or in the parade or during the pre-game ceremonies,” the coach added.

Tillman said this year’s Homecoming will probably be an even bigger experience because of the proximity and inter-relationships between the two communities.

“I understand that because Hominy is only 20 miles away, these kids have grown up knowing each other and competing against one another.”

Tillman said last week’s home game with Dewey drew nearly 2,000 people to Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium. He said he expects an even larger crowd for this week’s Homecoming contest.

“Everybody should be pretty charged up, including our Huskies’ players,” the coach said. “I think they will come though everything and be ready to play by kickoff time, though — they should be fine.”