Barnsdall KO’s state champs

Mike Tupa

James Cole.

As long as there beats one solitary heart with a flickering memory of Barnsdall High School sports, his name will burn like a flame as tall as a flamingo’s beak.

But, this weekend, he’s not even the prize athletic stud at the family dining table.

Cole’s younger brother Joe Cole — who slid into the vacant quarterback’s role after James’ graduation — made his own bid Friday for Panther football legend by uncorking six touchdown passes.

And, he didn’t reserve his flinger-looking great performance for just any old opponent.

The Panthers knocked off defending state champion Afton — which hadn’t lost a game since 2016 — by nearly 30 points, 47-18.

Cole — first name Joe — ripped the heavens for 340 yards.

And, that was just on seven completions (7-of-11).

His Titanic Target Twosome weren’t even in a Barnsdall uniform — during regular season play — a year ago.

Christian Warford — who skipped football in 2017 — snared three Cole aerials for 195 yards and three scores.

Heath Moles — forced to sit out last season due to injury — added four grabs for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

Afton’s run-stopping defensive strategy opened the airways for Cole & Co.

“He (the Afton coach) kept eight to nine guys in the box all night, which left Heath and Christian with one-on-one coverage,” noted Barnsdall head coach Kylee Sweeney. “They kind of slowed us down in rushing, but we came out and hit the play action passes.”

Sweeney noted that all but one of Cole’s completion resulted in a touchdown.

Not that the Panther ground attack ground to a halt.

Junior Michael Marin, the Barnsdall Tsunami, bolted for 94 yards — and a touchdown — on just 11 touches.

On the defensive side, Bryce Shores made the most of his opportunity to play varsity by picking off a pass.

Ky Allen and Cole accumulated 12 and 10 tackles, respectively; Allen also made two sacks.

Cash Perrier added nine tackles — four for loss and one for a sack.

Wesley Yarber tacked on nine tackles and Matthew Lucas made seven tackles — two for loss and one for a sack.

Kicker Braden Kelley contributed 5-of-7 extra point kicks.

“Our defensive line is playing very well,” said Sweeney, who saw his Panthers improve to 2-0.

Despite Afton’s status as the defending state king, Sweeney said his players “expected to win this one.”

Of course, it helped that Afton graduated approximately 20 starters off last year’s team.

Even so, few saw this kind of a whipping on the horizon.

“Our mindset this year is that our guys expect to win,” Sweeney said. “They expect to go out and compete against anyone we play and have a shot to win.”

Next up, the Panthers open district play by playing host Friday to Drumright. This also will be Barnsdall’s Homecoming game.

The roughest part of Barnsdall’s schedule — including Tonkawa, Woodland, Hominy and Pawnee — looms ahead as the Panthers take aim on powered a third-straight season into the playoffs.