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Barnsdall marks a century of high school football with a 52-6 win

Panthers defeat Claremore Christian, 52-6, in a game that ends in the third quarter.

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

BARNSDALL -- The Barnsdall Panthers took care of their Homecoming game business last Friday in less than three quarters, defeating Claremore Christian by a score of 52-6. The Panthers are the heirs to a tradition that began 100 years ago, with a first team that struggled to learn the game.

Head Coach Kylee Sweeney's 2020 Barnsdall Panthers built a 40-0 lead over the Claremore Christian Warriors by the half, and then added two more touchdowns before the game officially ended with 1:10 left in the third quarter. Barnsdall, which has moved from 11-player Class A ball to the eight-player Class B game this season, improved its record to 3-1 while Claremore Christian fell to 2-1.

Both of Barnsdall's home games so far this season have been runaway victories. In their home opener, on Sept. 11, the Panthers defeated Class C Copan, 62-14, in a game that lasted just one half.

A century ago, the first Barnsdall football team was on the receiving end of some epic drubbings, as it absorbed the stern lessons of the gridiron. The Barnsdall school annual from 1921-22 explained it this way: "This was our first attempt at football. With only one or two men on the team, who had ever played football before, we seemed virtually to be up a tree."

Indeed, those first Barnsdall gridiron warriors played seven games and lost six of them, some by scores that must have been difficult to bear. For instance, Fairfax scored 144 points on Barnsdall in one game, and Skiatook scored 99 points on them in another.

Additional information about the early years of Barnsdall football comes from a 1983 book by Naomi Downing Schmidt, titled "Our Home Town in the Osage Hills." Schmidt's text notes that Barnsdall football teams in 1925 and 1931 were undefeated, and in 1932 Barnsdall won the Verdigris Valley Conference Championship.

It would be no surprise to schools that play Barnsdall in the current era that teams from that community in earlier times would have found a way to be competitive. The 2019 Barnsdall Panthers football team had a record of 9-4 in Class A, including a run to the third round of the state playoffs. That team enjoyed a spectacular come-from-behind win over Hominy during the regular season and featured several very talented senior players.

Friday night, Barnsdall senior running back Hunter Auschwitz and senior quarterback Keegan Marin put on a sort of thunder-and-lightning display of running prowess. Auschwitz rumbled through the left side of the line in the first quarter for a run of more than 20 yards, but most of the gain was called back to about midfield due to a penalty. On the next play, Marin darted up the middle, made tacklers miss and went all the way for a score. Auschwitz powered in for a two-point conversion and the Panthers took an 8-0 lead with 4:58 to go in the quarter.

Marin and Auschwitz also played leading roles on the defensive side of the ball, as the Panthers played a scrappy style that mostly contained Claremore Christian's speedier players.

Barnsdall took over on downs at the Claremore Christian 30-yard line with 3:56 left in the opening quarter and Marin hit James Allen with a pass for a 14-yard gain. From there, Auschwitz twisted and turned and pushed for another eight yards. Marin got the ball to the 1-yard line and Auschwitz carried it in from there at the 2:10 mark. Brock Eckert scored the two-point conversion and the score was 16-0 in favor of the Panthers.

Before the end of the quarter, Barnsdall scored again, this time on a halfback pass from Auschwitz to Eckert. With a two-point conversion, the score was 24-0.

Claremore Christian's only serious threat to score in the first half came right before the intermission, when a Claremore runner broke away and made it to about the Barnsdall 5-yard line. The Panthers' defense stiffened, however, and sent the Warriors to the dressing room empty-handed.

Claremore Christian scored first in the second half, putting up six points with 8:43 left in the third quarter on a 42-yard run. The two-point attempt was unsuccessful and the score was 40-6 for Barnsdall.

Coach Sweeney began substituting immediately, putting receiver James Allen in at quarterback for Marin. Allen scored twice in the third period on quarterback keepers, and in the aftermath of his second touchdown run the game came to an early end.