BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 17, 2011
12/17/11 at 4:32 AM
Related story: Looking back at 2011: The year in review.
Few things went as expected during the 2011 high school football season.
Most of the preseason favorites to win state titles didn't come away with a gold ball. And even Union, which did live up to its preseason ranking and captured a fourth straight Class 6A state title, won the championship by overcoming obstacles no one could imagine, including its first district loss since 1997.
When the season started, Jenks tailback Alex Ross was the leading candidate to be the state's player of the year. Injuries, however, derailed that possibility and caused Ross to miss the half the season.
During the summer, defending champions Oklahoma City Douglass (4A) and Oklahoma City Heritage Hall (3A) were overwhelming favorites to win another title. Neither, however, even reached the state finals as each had its season end in stunning fashion. Douglass lost its first-round playoff game when Woodward's Garrett Roach returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown in the final minute. Heritage Hall's bid ended when Barry J. Sanders was stopped inches short of a potential touchdown by Cascia Hall's Blue Swarm defense in the last minute of the semifinals.
Guthrie won the 5A state title after it appeared for several days in early November that it would be kept from participating in the playoffs due to using an ineligible player. And it won with its head coach, Rafe Watkins, watching from the stands due to an eight-game suspension that he served to enable Guthrie to be in the playoffs.
2011 CHAMPIONS AT A GLANCE For more on the 2011 champs, see B6
6A: Union (13-1) 5A: Guthrie (14-0) 4A: Wagoner (13-1) 3A: Anadarko (15-0) 2A: Hennessey (12-2) A: Wayne (14-1) B: Caddo (14-0) C: Shattuck (12-1)
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393
<<< Broken Arrow's Devon Thomas was one of the season's big surprises. See B6 for more. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World; Photo illustration by ETHAN ERICKSON/Tulsa World