Huskies to scrimmage Barnsdall Friday night

Mike Erwin
Pawhuska assistant football coach Mark Frye demonstrates correct form for the Huskies during one of last week's early practices. PHS head coach Joe Tillman, right, and assistant Ladd Drummond observe the workout.

The Pawhuska High School Huskies football team will make its live-action debut Friday evening in a scrimmage at Barnsdall.

PHS’ only scrimmage of the 2016 begins at 7 p.m. Under new head coach Joe Tillman, the Huskies held 10 practices in the first six days of the preseason. The host Panthers also have a first-year head coach in Kyle Sweeney.

“It will be good to finally get to go against somebody besides ourselves,” Tillman said Monday. “We’re looking forward to taking another step.”

Friday night’s scrimmage will come exactly one week before the Huskies open the regular at Kellyville Aug. 26.

“Our guys have been working extremely hard,” said Tillman. “They really want to get out there Friday and show what we can do.”

Last Friday, threatening weather forecasts caused the Huskies’ initial practice in shoulder pads to be held in the morning instead of under “Friday Night Lights,” as had initially been planned. The PHS squad held a spirited, 90-minute workout at The Beach.

“It went very well,” Tillman said. “I couldn’t help but be especially impressed with the play of a couple of our seniors — John Bighorse and Warren Graves.”

Bighorse (6-1, 250 pounds) is a four-year PHS starter who has twice earned All-District accolades. He is expected to play on the offensive line and at linebacker or nose guard on defense. He will also handle the Huskies’ kicking and punting duties.

Since transferring to Pawhuska midway through his freshman season, Graves has been impossible to ignore. The 5-10, 170 pounder is a standout sprinter who has developed as a pass receiver and defensive back. He also has excelled at blocking opposing teams’ kicks.

Tillman and his staff have been working with around 25 players at most of the practices. Several Huskies were missing from Monday’s early session, however.

“We had a couple boys going out of town over the weekend and they apparently didn’t make it back yet,” the coach said. “Another of our guys (Ben Gray) hurt his ankle playing basketball Sunday night — and that is really going to hurt us.”

A competitive situation is developing at quarterback where Barnsdall transfer Tyler Wilson has been splitting time behind center with returning two-year starter Colton Hindman. Both players are seniors.

This Friday night, the Huskies will travel to Barnsdall for a scrimmage with the varsity and jayvee units of the Panthers. Barnsdall returns eight starters on offense — and nearly as many on defense — from a team that finished 4-6 a year ago.

The Pawhuska squad has been reinforced by returning senior wrestlers Levi Youngwolfe and Brycen Swan, plus the addition of a strong crop of freshman. Youngwolfe, playing safety, helped the Huskies reach the playoffs two years ago.

PHS’ line has been taking shape with ninth-grader Gabe Letzkus joining mainstays Bighorse and Keinan Cheves, a junior and third-year starter.

Other returning starters for the Huskies include senior Caleb Bruce, juniors Brian Jeffers and Dalton Lough and sophomore Price Perrier.

Huskie assistant coaches include defensive coordinator Mark Frye, offensive coordinator Ladd Drummond, Ben Rawlinson, Patrick McCarty and John Long.