Huskies head to Kellyville for football season opener

Mike Erwin
Pawhuska linemen Kienan Cheves, on left, mixes it up with Barnsdall's Bay-Lee Perigo during the Huskies' Friday football scrimmage with the host Panthers. The PHS team will kick off the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday in Kellyville. Head coach Joe Tillman said he expects the game to be decided in the trenches.

One week after a solid scrimmage rehearsal at Barnsdall, the Pawhuska High School Huskies are going back on the road Friday night for their regular-season football opener at Kellyville.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. for the contest between the Huskies and Ponies.

While PHS has played Kellyville, periodically, in other sports over the past dozen or so years, this will be the first football meeting between the two schools (at least in recent memory). The Class 3A Ponies are a size larger than the 2A Huskies in state football classifications, but they both compete at the same level in many other events.

A more pertinent size differential is going to be found on the line of scrimmage, where Kellyville linemen will outweigh their Pawhuska counterparts by an average of about 20 pounds per man.

PHS head coach Joe Tillman said the Huskies faced a similar (though less exteme) disadvantage last week versus the Panthers. Anticipating another great effort from his squad, he predicted Friday’s victor “will be decided in the trenches.”

“I think it’s going to be a slugfest,” said Tillman. “We will need to win the turnover battle and take advantage of any opportunities that come our way.”

Despite losing nine of 10 games a year ago, the Ponies are going to pose a real challenge for Pawhuska, the new coach added.

“They are a well-coached, veteran group that has good size up front and seem to have some attitude,” Tillman said. “And their backfield has power and speed.”

Tillman said the Huskies will have to prove they are the tougher team Friday.

“It’s obvious that Kellyville believes in what they’re doing — so, they’ve got our attention,” said Tillman. “Now we’ve got to go out and get theirs.”

Friday evening, Pawhuska saw its first varsity action on the Barnsdall gridiron in at least three decades. The Huskies and Panthers went at it on nearly-even terms for approximately 100 plays. PHS put the ball into the end zone twice (on its first and third possessions) while the home squad — under new coach Kylee Sweeney — crossed the goal line once.

The Huskies started the scrimmage by driving to a score in four plays. Tyler Wilson, a transfer from Barnsdall, completed a 10-yard pass to senior Caleb Bruce on the first play. PHS junior running back Brian Jeffers ran 22 yards for the second. Following a short gain on the third snap, Wilson ran the ball into the end zone from five yards out.

Barnsdall’s TD came on the third play of its second 10-play series when freshman running back Michael Marin zig-zagged 40-plus yards through Pawhuska’s second-team defense. Junior quarterback James Cole showed a strong throwing arm as he completed multiple passes to junior Paul Schmidt. But, the Huskies’ secondary was often up to the test as seniors Levi Youngwolfe, Colton Hindman and Warren Graves each batted down throws.

The other PHS touchdown came on a 4-yard pass from Hindman to Bruce. Good ground gains by Jeffers and Graves set up the score.

Heath Moles and Monte Klutts intercepted passes for Barnsdall and freshman Cade McNeil picked one off four yards deep in the end zone for Pawhuska. A blitzing Bruce recorded a pair of sacks for the Huskies. Senior John Bighorse, juniors Keinan Cheves and Dalton Lough, and freshman Hunter Reed provided additional defensive highlights.

“I was very pleased with the intensity our kids showed, particularly on about the first 30 plays,” Tillman said.

Barnsdall’s coach said the Panthers improved after a slow start.

“Defensively, I thought we played pretty well when we became more aggressive,” said Sweeney.

The BHS coach said he thought his team showed it could run the ball or pass it.

“I think it was a pretty evenly-matched scrimmage,” Sweeney said.

The Panthers open their season at home Friday versus the Yale Bulldogs.