Rejoice Football (copy)

Rejoice Christian's Nate Anderson rushed for 284 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-6 win over Crossings Christian on Friday night. Owasso Reporter File Photo

Rejoice Christian senior Nate Anderson was born three years after his favorite athlete, Barry Sanders, played his last football game.

Anderson has grown up as an Oklahoma State fan, following his parents’ example, and has heard a lot from them about Sanders and has seen some of his highlights.

“He could make people (defenders) look like fools,” Anderson said.

Anderson, in his first start as a running back for Rejoice, had a Sanders-type game in the Eagles’ season opener Friday. He had 19 rushes for 284 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-6 win over Crossings Christian.

Rejoice remains No. 2 in the Tulsa World’s Class A rankings behind Cashion.

Anderson, who is a three-year starter at linebacker, has been looking forward to being a starting running back. His first carry, on Rejoice’s second play, went for 92 yards — longer than any Sanders carry during his 10 NFL seasons.

Anderson is succeeding All-State player Andrew Crow, who had 259 carries for 2,625 yards and 46 touchdowns overall last season.

“You can’t replace Andrew Crow,” Rejoice coach Brent Marley said. “But we knew Nate was waiting in the wings, and what he did Friday wasn’t a fluke. He’s going to be special. He could have gone somewhere else and started at running back, but he’s a Rejoice Eagle, very unselfish.”

Anderson rushed for about 700 yards in a limited role over the previous three seasons.

“Andrew was more shifty, he would make guys miss,” Marley said. “For someone who is Nate’s size, 190 pounds, he is really fast, he qualified for the state track meet. He’s got great balance and vision. He’s not real shifty but he will run you over. He will fight through contact. For his level, he’s like (Dallas Cowboy) Zeke Elliott.

“But on that 92-yard touchdown run, he broke two or three tackles and was a combination of Zeke Elliott and Barry Sanders.”

Anderson’s performance was even more impressive considering he didn’t play in Rejoice’s two scrimmages due to a shoulder injury. He said that set him back with his conditioning a bit so he didn’t play as much at linebacker as usual. That allowed him to keep running strong for the entire game.

“We know it’s important to keep fighting until the end,” Anderson said. “We had been preparing for this game ever since last season ended.”

Rejoice went 13-1 last year with a loss in the Class A semifinals. The Eagles defeated Crossings Christian 21-20 in last year’s opener and 33-14 in the quarterfinals.

“They had our attention and our kids played very well,” Marley said.

Rangers rolling

Hale is 2-0 for the first time since 2006 after a 36-35 win over East Central on Friday. The Rangers entered this season only 3-57 over the previous six seasons.

“I know some people are surprised, but we aren’t,” Hale coach Brian Jones said.

DeAngelo Washington had three touchdown runs for the Rangers, who led 16-6 at halftime and never were caught. Hale stopped East Central on downs at the Rangers 41 with 47 seconds left.

“We should’ve finished the game earlier, but we don’t have a lot of experience in those situations,” Jones said. “We learned how to fight and finish late.”

Fast start

During spring practice, Broken Arrow coach David Alexander predicted that senior wideout Isaiah Keller would have a breakout season. Keller is off to a great start with eight catches for 231 yards and two TDs for the 6AI Tigers, who remain No. 1 going into their showdown against No. 2 Owasso on Friday.

Keller opened the scoring with a 75-yard TD catch in a 14-0 win over Union last Friday.

“Isaiah has a calmness about him that allows him to make big plays,” Alexander said. “The moment is not too big, tight coverage is not too big, 3rd-and-15 is not too big. It’s a credit to his maturity.”


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