New coaching staff has Tre'von Cherry and East Central flying high this season
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Friday, November 16, 2012
11/16/12 at 3:55 AM
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Tre'von Cherry grew up quickly as East Central's first-year starting quarterback. The 6-foot sophomore had a good teacher.
Tyler Gooch, a former Union High School and University of Tulsa quarterback, is one of the talented volunteer and lay assistants Bobby Klinck called upon to rebuild the coaching staff last spring when he was hired as the Cards' new head man.
Cherry arrived with little fanfare and no varsity playing experience, but with a cannon for a right arm. He was the missing piece of the puzzle for a team that otherwise seemed outfitted for a Class 5A title run.
Gooch taught Cherry to think like a quarterback and how to pick apart opponents.
"He teaches me something every week," said Cherry, an A-B student in the classroom. "He teaches me about defenses - how to read 'em and how to beat 'em."
Cherry has turned the teaching into action, throwing for 1,593 yards and 20 touchdowns. With many other key contributors, the Cards are riding high into Friday's quarterfinal showdown with reigning 5A state champion Guthrie at the East Side Sports Complex.
The Cards have won seven straight or 11 straight, depending on how one counts. They forfeited four early games due to using an ineligible player. Otherwise, they're unbeaten on the field in 2012.
Offensive coordinator Jess Smith said Gooch deserves a lot of the credit.
"If we hadn't had him here accelerating (Cherry's) progression, who knows where we'd be? He's been a huge asset." Smith said.
Smith is another former Union player and another of Klinck's volunteer and lay coaches. Tulsa Public Schools budgets allow for four full-time assistants, but conflicts often make it impossible to fill all the slots.
Smith, an independent homebuilder, and Gooch, a Farmer's Insurance agent, are uniquely situated to spend significant time away from their businesses to pursue coaching on a volunteer basis.
Klinck, a former Jenks standout, says he's lucky to have them. He has two full-time assistants now and had only one in May when he took over a program that had changed head coaches twice in the previous six months.
Former longtime mentor Travis Hill resigned in December amid a TPS investigation, and Ben Bowling departed in April after an alcohol-related arrest.
Joe Brown was the lone staff assistant when Klinck arrived on the first day of spring drills and Brown soon departed to become offensive coordinator at Liberty High School.
Smith had coached previously at Owasso and Union and spent 2011 with Klinck on Josh Blankenship's Muskogee staff.
Said Klinck, "I called him and said, 'Man, I need you.' He was interested, because the commute from Muskogee was hurting him. He said, 'I'll help you with spring drills and we'll see how it goes from there.' "
It didn't take long for Smith to fall in love with Cherry.
The Cards seemed loaded at the other spots, with University of Oklahoma commit Stanvon Taylor and Deontre Youngblood at the wideouts, William Goree at tailback and Kimmie Carson at linebacker.
But they lacked a replacement for John McDavid, who threw 37 TD passes over the previous two seasons.
"With 19 or 20 really good seniors, it would have been a shame for this group not to have a quarterback," Smith said.
Cherry, who played middle school football at Gilcrease, showed up the second day of spring and changed everything.
Smith recalls: "(Cherry) said he played quarterback and I said, 'OK, let's throw the ball a little bit.' We throw it back and forth two or three times and I just see this laser of an arm. And I say, 'Son, it's funny how things work out. Opportunity knocks when you least expect it, and you are the starting quarterback at East Central High School.' "
Cherry was ready. "I've been ready. I've been working for this all of my life. I've been wanting to play football and get the starting job in high school and try and go and play in college and see what I can do with it," he said.
Cherry threw for 344 yards in his first start, struggled for three games, then took off. He's thrown at least one TD pass in each of the last seven games, while completing 64 percent of his passes.
"His arm is incredible," Gooch said. "I haven't seen a kid his age throw the deep ball like he does in a while, and he makes it look like nothing."
Taylor and Youngblood aren't complaining. They've combined for 1,340 receiving yards and 18 TDs while averaging nearly 17 yards per catch.
Gooch taught Cherry to lead by acting tough when he didn't feel tough, and now calls the sophomore 'Ice Man' for his cool under pressure.
Said Cherry: "I come off the field the same way, whether I've thrown an interception or a touchdown pass."
Cherry's statistics game by game
Del City, W 53-31*||15-28-0||344||4|
Bartlesville, W 13-10*||6-19-2||71||0|
B.T. Washington, W 27-0*||4-9-2||36||1|
Central, W 33-12*||3-9-0||36||0|
Coweta, W 35-28||14-18-0||190||3|
Claremore, W 20-19||8-19-2||97||2|
Grove, W 50-20||10-18-2||117||2|
Collinsville, W 36-26||10-14-1||150||2|
Tahlequah, W 42-0||10-15-1||117||1|
Pryor, W 42-7||14-18-1||301||4|
Shawnee, W 38-14||13-22-0||144||1|
*Later forfeited because of ineligible player
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Original Print Headline: Cards flying high
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Quarterback coach Tyler Gooch (right) and head coach Bobby Klinck (left) have been integral to quarterback Tre'von Cherry's success this season. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World