Huskies to suit up for practice under 'Friday Night Lights'

Mike Erwin

A pair of two-hour workout sessions Monday morning and Monday evening officially launched the 2016 football season for the Pawhuska High School Huskies and new head coach Joe Tillman.

“Those may have been two of the best first-day practices I’ve been around,” Tillman said afterward. “Everybody came out ready to play — they showed lots of spirit and enthusiasm.”

The first-year PHS coach added he is optimistic about the Huskies’ upcoming campaign. Although the varsity finished 2-8 last season, most of its games were decided by two touchdowns or less — and nearly a dozen Pawhuska starters are returning.

“Most of our guys are coming in in really good shape,” Tillman said. “You can really tell a difference between the ones who participated in our summer pride program and those who didn’t.”

Tillman has additional two-a-days planned for the Huskies on Tuesday and Thursday, with a single practice session to be held Wednesday. All of the early PHS workouts are being held on the practice field at 20th and McKenzie Road.

The first day Oklahoma high school football players are allowed to wear shoulder pads while practicing is Friday. According to the coach, that is when teams begin to seriously prepare for their season openers.

“We’re going to try to make the first practice with pads a little more special by having it at the stadium,” said Tillman. “We would like to get our fans out there, too.”

Tillman added that the weather forecast could alter those Friday plans.

“We’re going to keep an eye on the weather,” the coach said. “If it looks like it will rain Friday night, we’ll have our practice in the morning or afternoon.”

The PHS coach stressed the importance of every practice at this point in the season.

“Our only preseason scrimmage will only be a week away,” Tillman added. “That’s why we’re trying to get as much work in as possible.”

The Huskies will scrimmage at Barnsdall at 7 p.m. Aug. 19, said the coach.

The Huskies “Friday Night Lights” workout will begin at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

At 6 p.m. Friday, Tillman has scheduled a parents’ meeting to be held at the stadium’s recently-renovated locker room/film room facility.

“We’ll really be looking forward to that Friday when we can finally go out there and hit somebody else — not just one another,” the coach said.

The Huskies return a solid core of starters led by seniors John Bighorse (6-1, 240), Caleb Bruce (5-10, 160), Colton Hindman (5-11, 170), Warren Graves (5-10, 170), Ben Gray (6-1, 180), Nathan Richardson (6-1, 180) and Will Merrill (6-0, 160). The PHS junior class includes Brian Jeffers (6-0, 185), Kienan Cheves (6-1, 220), D’Artagnan Stone (5-11, 150) and Tyler Wilson (6-0, 185). Sophomore Price Perrier (5-7, 140) is another returning starter.

PHS will go on the road to Kellyville for its Aug. 26 season opener against the Class 3A Ponies. The Huskies’ Game 2 opponent on Friday, Sept. 2, is Class A’s Morrison Wildcats, which will be another road game for Pawhuska.

The Dewey Bulldoggers, another 3A foe, will visit “The Beach” for Pawhuska’s Sept. 9 home opener. Hominy’s highly-regarded Bucks are to be the Huskies’ Homecoming opponent on Sept. 16. The Bucks will be trying to exceed last season’s run to the Class A state semifinals.

Pawhuska’s new home District 2A-1 includes the Chisholm Longhorns, Hennessey Eagles, Alva Goldbugs, Tonkawa Bucanneers, Perry Maroon and Newkirk Tigers.

Following an open date on Friday, Sept. 23, PHS will open is district schedule Sept. 30 at Tonkawa and be back on the road at Newkirk on Oct. 7. Hennessey will visit Pawhuska on Thursday, Oct. 13. Alva plays here Oct. 20.

The Huskies will travel to Enid for their game with Chisholm on Oct. 28. PHS concludes the regular season Nov. 4 with a home game against Perry.

story text created on Tuesday 8