Mason Gilkey is a rarity for the Pawhuska Huskies.
Not many Class A football teams have 6-foot-4 receivers with elite track speed who can jump like a kangaroo.
“He’s crazy athletic, big and tall,” quarterback Bryce Drummond said. “He can go up and get the ball and he runs by everybody. He’s made us a better team.”
As a freshman last spring, Gilkey won the 400 meters at the 2A state track meet and helped the Huskies win the team title. He was also the leading rebounder for the basketball team.
He’s still learning in football, but don’t tell opponents. Six of his 15 receptions have gone for touchdowns, and he averages 30.6 yards per catch.
“He creates a lot of mismatches on the outside,” coach Matt Hennesy said. “That’s what happens when you can run and jump and have great hands.”
Gilkey is at least a part of the reason the No. 4 Huskies are 7-0 for the first time in 10 years as they visit Hominy for a key District A-5 matchup highlighting a busy fall break Thursday.
Gilkey doesn’t act like a star, although he could.
“I just love being a part of this team,” Gilkey said. “Everybody’s giving great effort, always looking forward to getting better. It’s really a brotherhood.”
The threat of Gilkey scoring from anywhere on the field forces defenders to focus their attention on him. That opens the field for the Huskies’ other explosive operatives.
Drummond has passed for 22 TDs and run for 13 more, leading an offense that averages 53.6 points per game, second in Class A.
Easton Kirk and Cade McNeil, both seniors, have combined to score 17 TDs. JT Waddle has 18 receptions for 212 yards and two TDs.
Gilkey isn’t even the Huskies’ only tall, speedy receiver. Evan Frye, a senior, has 10 catches and also helped lead the championship track team. Frye was fifth in the 400 meters and both were part of winning relay teams in the 400, 800 and 1,600 meters.
“We have so many weapons,” said Hennesy, who coached high-scoring outfits at Locust Grove before moving to Pawhuska last season. “We don’t have enough footballs to go around, but nobody cares who’s getting the catches. As soon as somebody scores, they’re all down there in the end zone, celebrating.”
The “Gilkey” name is legendary in Osage County athletics. Several of Mason’s relatives have been Huskies standouts through the years.
Herbert Gilkey, a fourth cousin, was probably the greatest of the lot. In 1970, he starred on Pawhuska’s 2A state championship basketball team that also won the Tournament of Champions, beating powerful OKC Douglass in the final game.
When Mason prays before a game, he remembers his father. James “William” Gilkey, also a former Huskies standout athlete, died of a heart attack before Mason’s freshman year.
“That was a shock, something I had to fight through,” Mason said. “It was just so unexpected. I was so young and I always thought he would see me graduate. My prayer before every game is, I give glory to God and I tell my father that (this game) is for him.”
Hennesy enjoys working with Gilkey, “a great kid and a straight-A student who comes to practice, keeps his mouth shut and works his tail off.”
Mason’s mother, Jessie Wilson, said she pushes her son “to be the best he can be in anything and everything he does. And once you start something, you never quit.”
Gilkey struggled early this season, catching only three of the first 11 passes thrown his direction. Hennesy sat him down to discuss the issue and was soon impressed with how quickly Gilkey reversed the trend.
He broke out with four catches in a 20-12 win over Morrison on Sept. 20 and followed a week later with four more, all for TDs, against Barnsdall. Since his talk with Hennesy, Gilkey hasn’t missed a pass thrown his way.