Campbell Yeager and his Broken Arrow football teammates took a spare afternoon last week to visit BA’s youth-league programs.
“We know they look up to us and it’s good to get out there and encourage ’em,” the senior outside linebacker said. “They love it. You can see it in their eyes.”
BA coach David Alexander said, “I think my (varsity players) like it more than the little ones because they remember what it was like when they were that age.”
It’s been 14 days since the Tigers or any of the area’s other Class 6A Division I powers — Owasso, Union and Jenks — have played a game.
All four roar back into action Friday in blockbuster matchups that likely will determine district titles and the way the postseason playoff bracket is structured.
Alexander’s defending champion and No. 2 Tigers (2-1) visit No. 4 Jenks (1-2) to start District 6AI-1 play, and No. 1 Owasso (3-0) hosts No. 3 Union (1-2) in the 6AI-2 opener.
Since the inception of Zero Week scheduling, the Big Four teams have taken an annual September break after playing three weeks of nondistrict games.
It comes at a good time for resting up, healing up, reassessing a team’s strengths and weaknesses and refitting for the long haul.
But please don’t call it a “week off,” Union coach Kirk Fridrich said.
“I think it was probably a football coach who came up with the term ‘bye week’ because a ‘week off,’ it definitely is not,” Fridrich said.
The coaches continue to worry, evaluate and strategize. They also run their players through their paces, but under modified conditions.
Jenks used the extra time to get Stephen Kittleman ready for his return to action. The junior quarterback has had 21 days since injuring his knee against Bixby on Sept. 6 and sitting out the loss to Union in the MidFirst Bank Backyard Bowl on Sept. 13.
Kittleman should be ready Friday against Broken Arrow, coach Keith Riggs said.
Broken Arrow has a lot of nagging injuries, and Alexander hopes to get running back Kejuan Tolbert and standout defensive back Myles Slusher back to full speed.
Tolbert, slowed by a high ankle sprain, has carried 24 times for 89 yards in three games.
Neither did a thing last week, Alexander said, except “go and put a foot in an ice bucket.”
Owasso has no major injuries. Coach Bill Blankenship gave the Rams days off on Monday and Friday of the bye week, but used the middle three days for aggressive intrasquad work.
“We’re trying to pick up the pace of game speed during the bye week,” Blankenship said. “In a normal week, we do very little scrimmaging against each other because you won’t want to beat ’em up.”
Fridrich said the Redskins used the week to “inventory the things we’ve done well and see if there’s anything we can try creatively with different guys getting the ball.”
That could mean more time on the field for talented sophomore quarterback Rovaughn Banks, who subbed in at running back in the 35-20 win over Jenks and scored his first two varsity touchdowns.