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RJ Jackson and the Choctaw High School defense swarm the end zone after picking off Muskogee’s first throw of the state semifinal. Jackson’s pick-6 put Choctaw up 16-0 early. (PHOTO BY KOLBY RUSH)

Yellowjackets to face Stillwater in 6A-II final

By Ryan Horton
Choctaw Times

When Choctaw first played Muskogee in 2019, the Yellowjackets secured a historic win that propelled the team into the state semifinal for the first time since 1965.

Choctaw has roughed up Muskogee every year since, and Friday’s state semifinal meeting at East Central University was no different.

The Jackets remained perfect against Muskogee beating the Roughers 45-20 and securing their place in the state final this Friday at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Now the Jackets are hoping to make history once again.

Choctaw (11-1) is aiming to take down Stillwater (12-0) in the season finale.

Choctaw has been waiting to bring a gold ball home since they claimed the Class B State Championship in 1960.
Choctaw High School kicks off their third state final appearance against the Pioneers Friday at 1 p.m.

Juju Smith makes a big catch on Muskogee. (PHOTO BY RYAN HORTON)

Jackets rough up Muskogee in state semifinal, 45-20


Choctaw High School is headed to the Class 6A State Championship after thumping Muskogee Friday night at East Central University.

The Yellowjackets came out aggressive on both sides of the ball taking an early lead in the 6A-II state semifinal.

Choctaw outclassed a young Muskogee team with a dominant defense and accurate offense.

Choctaw scored with 8:55 left in the first quarter. Juju Smith took it in for six, and Will Smith added two. Half a minute later and Muskogee was looking to get their offense going, but Choctaw’s defense shut the Roughers down immediately.

A swarm of Yellowjackets deflected the Roughers’ first pass attempt and RJ Jackson snagged the pick-6 from about 10 yards out. La’Trell Ray added two, and Choctaw was up 16-0 early.

The Jackets opened with 23 unanswered points, and by halftime Choctaw commanded a 30-6 lead.

Choctaw finished with 520 total yards of offense, while Muskogee put up 341 on the night.

Senior quarterback Steele Wasel had 328 of those yards passing for two touchdowns as he connected on 22-of-33 throws. He added a TD and 61 yards rushing.

Juju Smith had nine carries for 80 yards and a score and had seven receptions for 92 yards. Ray had 52 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Connor Stover finished with four catches for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“This is a fantastic group of kids,” said head coach Jake Corbin. “Steele is at the top of that list. He is a baller and has ice in his veins.”

Choctaw’s QB was proud of the entire team, and gives the credit to elite coaching.

“Our coaches just prepared us really well. We did all the same stuff in practice and just came out and executed well,” said Wasel. “Our offense is really good, and our defense is even better than we are.”

Choctaw’s defense kept constant pressure on Muskogee’s quarterback.

Muskogee suffered five turnovers on the night. Muskogee QB Jamarion Ficklin was 14-of-29 passing for 265 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Cameron Hunt and Imari Jones joined Jackson in grabbing interceptions. Drake Fittro recovered a fumble for Choctaw.

“I’m proud of our kids and our coaches for their resiliency. We’re down six starters on defense. So, we have six guys that were playing JV out here going against arguably one of the best offenses in the state of Oklahoma, and they were able to lock them down,” said Corbin. “Next man up. Our guys just keep stepping up, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Choctaw’s win over Muskogee was the fourth straight as the Jackets remain undefeated against the Roughers.

Choctaw first played Muskogee back in 2019, and that quarterfinal win advanced CHS to a state semifinal for the first time since 1965. Choctaw has met the Roughers every year since, and this year was the most dominant win in the series that Choctaw leads 4-0.

“The hardest thing to do in life is to go from losing to winning,” Corbin said. “We’ve been able to do that, and that’s a testament to these kids that believed and they buy in and they just continue to work. We’re a program built on effort.”

This is the third time ever for CHS to compete in the state final, but it’s the second time in three years for the program that has developed into a regular postseason contender.

Two years ago, Choctaw finished state runner-up by a narrow three-point margin, and last year they were eliminated by a runner-up Deer Creek team in the quarterfinal.

The Jackets, especially the seniors who were sophomores when they finished three points away from the title in 2020, were ecstatic to return to the state final for the second time in the last three years.

They say they’re already prepared to hand Stillwater their first loss of the year.

“This was a lot of fun. The plays we worked on all week were executed the way we wanted to. I’m so ready. We’re going to come out and do whatever we always do,” said Stover. “We’ve been able to do everything we’ve wanted to do this season. We come out with a game plan every week and execute. We’re always looking ahead to the next game, and we’re ready for it.”

Wasel expects the team to carry their dominant mindset into the state title game.

The Akron commit led the Jackets to the state final his sophomore year, and now as a senior with one game left, he’s looking to finish with a gold ball.

“Ever since we lost last year, every dude on this team has been committed to get back and leave with the ring this time,” said Wasel.

Choctaw (11-1) now has a final test with undefeated Stillwater (12-0) in the 6A-II championship game.

The Pioneers are coming off a 33-28 semifinal win over Deer Creek.

The final is set for Friday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

Choctaw’s defense swarms Muskogee. (PHOTO BY KOLBY RUSH)

Senior quarterback Steele Wasel leaves the Muskogee defense behind during a 6A-II state semifinal. Choctaw won 45-20. (PHOTO BY KOLBY RUSH)

Will Smith fights for some yards against Muskogee. (PHOTO BY RYAN HORTON)

Choctaw head coach Jake Corbin congratulates the Yellowjackets on a big play against Muskogee.


For the second time in the last three years and third time ever, Choctaw High School is heading back to the state championship football game.
After claiming the Class B State Championship in 1960, Choctaw suffered decades of growing pains as the program spent years competing among the state’s largest high schools.
Choctaw returned to the title game in 2020 when the Yellowjackets claimed the school’s first silver ball.
Choctaw has hopes of beating undefeated Stillwater Friday to claim the Class 6A-II State Championship.
Kickoff is 1 p.m. Friday at the University of Central Oklahoma.


CHOCTAW 45, Muskogee 20

Stillwater 33, Deer Creek 28


CHOCTAW (11-1) vs Stillwater (12-0)

6A-II State Championship, 1 p.m. Friday @ UCO



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