In the midst of the regular season, when he is focused solely on the next game at hand, Greenwood head coach Rick Jones reflected on the past after winning his 300th game as a high school head coach on Friday night.
“We have a philosophy about individual awards, and the thing about winning 300 games as a coach is far from being individual,” Jones said. “I remember our first game as a head coach in 1986, we were coaching against Ron Lancaster. He was the winningest coach in America, percentage-wise, at the time.”
That first game was 1986, in the season opener, when Jones was the head coach at Edmond High, ironically also nicknamed the Bulldogs. Jones, a 31-year-old rookie head coach, was going up against Enid and head coach Ron Lancaster, who had won the state championship in 1983, just two years after coming to Oklahoma from Rancho Cordova, Calif. Lancaster was 59-3 in five years at Rancho Cordova and won four straight sectional championships long before California had actual state championships. Lancaster was the National High School Coach of the Year in 1979 by Student Sports Magazine.
“I thought I had no chance, and ‘I’ didn’t,” Jones said. “That’s the great thing about it is ‘we’ had a chance. ‘We’ won the game.”
Jones was 41-10 in four seasons at Edmond with a state title in 1989, 18-6 in two seasons at Tulsa Union, was an assistant at Southwest Missouri State for three seasons, returned to Oklahoma to coach high school at Broken Arrow in 1995 and was 73-32 in nine seasons before taking over at Greenwood in 2004. He’s now 168-24 at Greenwood with seven state championships.
“One thing that I thought about on the bus ride home was that this links the kids at Edmond, at Union, at Broken Arrow and at Greenwood all together,” Jones said.
It all started in 1986 with Edmond’s 21-6 win over Enid and Lancaster, who became a mentor to Jones and retired in 2009 with 303 career coaching victories.
“Our coaches and our players overcame my bad coaching,” Jones said. “That’s the thing that makes the difference, it’s happened now 299 other times.”
Very soon, however, Jones returned to the present with his focus back on Friday night’s Bulldogs, who beat Siloam Springs, 42-7, and doused Jones with an ice bucket following the 300th victory in his career that made this group of Bulldogs memorable.
“They were here when we did that,” Jones said. “I’m proud of this group. They really want to do good. They want to pay the price to be good. That makes a difference. We have a few bumps on the road, and we’re not pretty sometimes but our effort overall is pretty good.”
Greenwood remains No. 1 in Class 6A this week, winning its fifth straight game and improving to 3-0 in the 6A-West. The Bulldogs are tied with Benton atop the conference standings and host Russellville this Friday.
Just when it looked like Van Buren was going to grab some momentum on Friday night, Fayetteville snatched it right back and then rolled to a 50-14 win.
“It’s all phases of the game, but I was happy for the most how we played on the defensive side of the ball,” Van Buren head coach Casey Dick said. “We stress all the time that it’s four, five or six plays in the game make all the difference. If you take four plays away from them on defense you take 28 points off the board. That’s the way football is, you have to be ready to play from snap one all the way through the fourth quarter.”
Gary Phillips’ 14-yard touchdown aerial to Jude Bartholomew had the Pointers within, 21-14, of Fayetteville with 5:16 left in the first half.
Fayetteville then returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown and added another touchdown with 1:21 before the half for a 35-14 lead.
Fayetteville scored twice in the third quarter and added a touchdown with no time left in the game.
Van Buren held Fayetteville to just 88 yards rushing in the game, and Fayetteville’s offensive touchdowns were on plays of 21, 29, 75, 39, and 78 yards.
“There are four or five plays we can improve on and learn from,” Dick said.
Phillips started and took all of the snaps for Van Buren at quarterback with Christian Morrow recovering from an ankle sprain suffered late against Bentonville the week before.
Phillips, a sophomore southpaw, threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns to Bartholomew, including a 78-yarder, and ran for 83 yards on 25 carries.
“The biggest thing is he competed,” Dick said. “He played really well for a sophomore. He brings a little different dynamic into the game. We’re very excited to have in the future.”
Van Buren hosts Rogers Heritage on Friday for homecoming.
It’s safe to say that Alma’s special teams were extremely special in the Airedale’s 23-22 road win at Morrilton on Friday.
Josh Davis returned a kickoff 52 yards to Morrilton’s 44 right after Morrilton had taken a 22-15 lead with 3:51 left. Two plays later, Landon Blair hit Grayson Bailey on a short pass across the middle, and Bailey turned it into a 44-yard touchdown on third-and-10 with 2:32 left. Alma set up to try the point-after kick, but called timeout and decided to go for two. After Morrilton called timeout when Alma sent its offense back onto the field, Blair hit Bailey in the left back corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion for the 23-22 lead.
“It was hot and humid, we were tired and it was the end of the game,” Alma head coach Doug Loughridge said. “I looked at the offensive lineman and asked them if we could get it, and they said, yes, let’s get it. We went and got it, and never looked back. They were pretty confident and we went with them.”
Morrilton drove to Alma’s 19 and after a timeout to set up for a 36-yard field goal as time expired from the right hash mark.
Zac Henson led a huge line push, and Coltin Bowerman came around the right side to almost block the kick that sailed short and to the left after a low snap.
“We went behind big Zac, and Coltin layed out,” Loughridge said. “They kind of shanked it left.”
Dane Martin booted a 25-yard field goal, the Airedales had three kickoff returns for 121 yards, and Blair punted twice for an average of 41-1/2 yards.
“The kicking game was the difference in the ball game,” Loughridge said. “The kickoff returns were big, and Blair had a punt that flipped the field. There were a lot of big plays in the kicking game.”
Defensively, Tanner Shelton recovered a Morrilton fumble at Alma’s 27 to squelch a second-quarter drive and also intercepted a pass.
Bowerman had 15 tackles, including 10 solos with two for lost yardage.
In addition to the big return, Davis also had 10 tackles with one for lost yardage on defense, and ran three times on offense for six yards.
Alma hosts Clarksville on Friday.