Choctaw wallops Wolves in home opener
Jackets claim first-ever win over Edmond Santa Fe, 37-20
By Ryan Horton
Choctaw fans are living in the golden age of high school sports as coaches continue to lead the Yellowjackets over historic hurdles.
Friday night Choctaw High School celebrated its first win ever over Edmond Santa Fe.
The Jackets thumped the visiting Wolves, 37-20.
The win was the first-ever over Santa Fe and the first over an Edmond high school since 2000 when CHS shutout Edmond North. This was the sixth all-time win over an Edmond high school as the Jackets defeated the original Edmond High School back in 1971, ‘67, ‘65 and ‘64.
“Classic Choctaw football here at home tonight. I’m really proud of our kids. First time in school history to beat Edmond Santa Fe, and one of what feels like is a million firsts for the program. We love it,” said head coach Jake Corbin. “It got kids pretty fired up.”
The Class 6A-I Wolves were coming off a close 13-10 season-opening loss to Jenks, and they brought the size, athleticism and depth you’d expect from one of the state’s largest high schools.
“They’re a real physical team. We’re proud of our kids, you know, we had concerns about us holding up physically. They’re across the board bigger than us. They’re taller, heavier, all those kinds of things and we are really proud of the fact our kids just continued to show up snap after snap,” said Corbin.
“This was a really physical game. We just continued to make plays, and I think that shows the heart of our team.”
The Wolves jumped to an early lead, but Choctaw fired right back when quarterback Steele Wasel connected with La’Trell Ray for a 75-yard touchdown play.
That put Choctaw up 7-6, and CHS would extend the lead to 14-6 when Wasel found Juju Smith for a 73-yard play for six.
Edmond Santa Fe would close the gap to 14-13, but Choctaw remained tenacious going 68 yards on seven plays to setup a 27-yard field goal from senior Tommy Yousey with just under 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
CHS won the first half 17-13, but the Wolves were aggressive after the break.
Just like the opening quarter, Santa Fe would strike first.
The Wolves recaptured the lead 20-17 just over a minute into the second half, but that’s all the Jackets would give them in the final two quarters as the Choctaw defense wouldn’t show any signs of fatigue.
Wasel connected with Jax Smith, who left a pair of Wolves laying on the turf, on a 55-yard go-ahead play. It was an 80-yard drive in six plays that put Choctaw up once and for all, 24-20.
While Choctaw’s offense repeatedly made huge plays, the Jacket defense was relentlessly swarming.
Choctaw’s defense would make back-to-back stops near their own goal line forcing two turnovers in a row for the Wolves.
With 42 seconds remaining in the third, Choctaw’s defense made a key fourth down stop near their own 5-yard line. Choctaw’s offense took to the field, and they needed just one play.
Wasel pitched outside to Ray who ran it goal line to goal line. Ray utilized big blocks to cut his way down the field on a 95-yard dash for six, and Yousey slapped on a PAT putting CHS up 31-20.
Backup QB Cash Williams would take over the offense. Will Smith made some big plays, and then Williams would make a short pass to Juju Smith who scampered into the endzone with 3:58 left to play to cap the night, 37-20.
The Jackets simply out worked the visitors, and Choctaw credits that to their championship mentality.
“I’m so grateful that we raise champions, and don’t listen to the outside world,” said Corbin. “We don’t base our opinions of ourselves on outcomes, we base everything on the fact that we know we’re champions. We’ll continue to work and get better each and every week.”
Choctaw put up 460 yards of total offense on their way to five touchdowns and a field goal. The Jackets had 262 yards passing and another 198 on the run.
Wasel passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for another 41 yards.
Williams, the backup QB, had one pass good for two yards and a Jacket TD.
On five catches, Juju Smith had 107 yards receiving good for two TDs.
Ray had one reception good for 75 yards. The senior speedster put in 160 yards rushing including a 95-yard dash for a TD.
Jax Smith finished the night with 55 yards receiving and a TD. Will Smith had a 28-yard reception.
Choctaw’s defense showed they have the depth to live up to the reputation the school has earned in recent years.
Choctaw sacked Santa Fe’s QB four times, and made eight tackles for a loss.
Cory Childs finished with 10 tackles, while RJ Jackson was credited three solo tackles, two tackles for losses and a sack.
Williams had five tackles, Nolan Bussell had four tackles and QB sack, Easton Costa assisted in nine tackles and forced a fumble, and Jacoby McClain had four solo and six tackle assists.
Others making big contributions in the defensive swarm included Travis Elliot, Drake Fittro, Dasean Hein, Brody Hofen, Austin Hubert, Imari Jones, Braven McConnell, Marques McGrew, Juju and Will Smith.
Choctaw has been focused on developing a young roster to compete with the state’s elite, and Friday’s results show they can make rapid development needed living up to their claim as the “GOLD Standard” in Oklahoma high school football.
“We had to be patient. We were able to establish the run game, and were able to grind it out. That was the game plan,” said Corbin. “We feel like we improved this week on the ground. We feel like our O-line improves every week. They’re really young and inexperienced, so I feel like they’re growing up really quick before our eyes. We wanted to come in and make a statement that we could run on some guys much larger than us. They’re a physical team and my hat’s off to coach Kyle White and his staff. He does a great job. They took Jenks down to the wire, and arguably should have beat Jenks. So, we knew we had our hands full and we were up for the challenge.”
Similar to Santa Fe, CHS opened the year with a very close loss to a state title hopeful. Choctaw opened with a four-point loss to Del City. The Eagles went on to roll over Booker T. Washington Friday, 27-6.
“We try to play against good people, and that kind of stuff happens. Obviously, we’d like to be 2-0 right now, but we’ll take 1-1 and just continue to move on to the next,” said Corbin.
Corbin says their team is focused inward on building champions, and each week’s test will help the Jackets improve. Going 1-0 each week remains the goal.
Before Friday night, Choctaw was 0-8 against Edmond Santa Fe. Choctaw has that exact same historic record against this week’s opponent, Westmoore.
Westmore rebounded from a season-opening loss to Union to throttle Yukon last week, 30-7.
“Next, we have Westmoore and they beat up on Yukon pretty good. Should be a tough Westmore team, you know it’ll be a tough challenge for us again,” said Corbin.
“Really it is just about us. We don’t really focus on the opponent’s and keep trying to focus on us getting better each and every week. That’s what a champion does. A champion cannot describe his beliefs based on outside outcomes or opinions.”
Choctaw (1-1) kicks off at Moore Stadium vs. Westmoore (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.
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