Broken Arrow Public Schools announced a change in leadership in the football program Monday by ending the seven-year tenure of head coach David Alexander.
In 2018, Alexander led the Tigers to its first football state championship in the school’s history. In addition, Broken Arrow finished state runner-up in 2015 and won the district championship in 2015 and 2018 under his leadership. Overall, Alexander achieved a 60-23 record in his seven years as head coach of the program following one season as an assistant coach on the staff.
“We appreciate and thank Coach Alexander for his dedication and time with the program,” said Broken Arrow Public Schools Associate Superintendent of Student Services Chuck Perry. “His legacy has been cemented in the fact that he came home to his high school alma mater and was the first coach to take the program to the top of the mountain. After much consideration though, we feel the timing is right and it is in the best interest of the district to move in a new direction.”
Prior to coming to Broken Arrow, he was the head coach of the Tulsa Talons arena league team and was an assistant coach with the Jenks Trojans. Alexander played football at Broken Arrow and the University of Tulsa before a 10-year career in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.
“I am grateful for Coach Alexander’s hard work and commitment to this community,” said Broken Arrow Executive Director of Athletics Steve Dunn. “We will seek a candidate who will add to the winning tradition of Broken Arrow Tiger football and who will continue to guide a program that builds character in the lives of its players and assistant coaches.”
A search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
For more information contact Adam J. Foreman, Director of Public Relations, BAPS
A two-inch square device – developed in Sweden – used to detect and diagnose heart disease is now part of the Broken Arrow Athletic Department’s sports medicine team’s arsenal in detecting myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscles, which can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood.
A virus, such as COVID-19, is a major cause of myocarditis. The COALA Heart Monitor is part of the Broken Arrow’s “return-to-play protocol” for students who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our greatest responsibility, and this is an additional measure we have taken to ensure our families have access to the best care possible,” said Steve Dunn, executive director of athletics.
Former BA wrestling coach Shawn Jones, who now works with Bio Compatible Solutions, introduced the simple-to-use heart monitor to Broken Arrow’s certified athletic trainers Daniel Steward and Grace Woern.
“As athletic trainers, we are here to protect and return our student athletes back to the sport they love as safely as possible,” Steward said. “The COALA is an extraordinary tool in helping us do that for our student athletes.”
The portable heart monitor is the only patch-free Remote Heart Monitor that provides real-time diagnostic-quality ECG analysis and heart sound recordings simultaneously to the patient and healthcare provider. COALA provides real-time analysis of nine of the most common arrhythmias.
Steward noted that COALA will be part of his team’s emergency bag in the case of a possible cardiac arrest.
“When approached about the COALA we thought this would be a great thing to have at the high school in all kinds of situations,” Steward said. “The COALA is a game changer in the realm of athletics.”
While Broken Arrow wrestlers have basically remained safe from quarantine, the Tiger first semester schedule has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will be no Pre-Turkey Tournament in Edmond, no trip to Park Hill, Mo., nor to the Gardner-Edgerton Invitational in Kansas. The Walsh Jesuit Ironman in Ohio, has fallen victim. A rematch with Bentonville in Arkansas will not happen in mid-December. Fortunately, the early season dual with Owasso, has only been postponed until January 28.
That’s not to say the first semester schedule won’t be challenging. Currently on the December schedule is a home dual with Stillwater on Dec. 8, the Mid-American Nationals in Enid on Dec. 11-12 and the Mill Valley Quadrangular in Shawnee Mission, Kan., on Dec. 18.
Those matches are quality replacements for what Coach Rod Jones and his wrestlers will be missing. The schedule, like the 2020-2021 team, has holes to fill from a season that saw Broken Arrow win its 19th and 20th wrestling state championships – Dual State and the Class 6A State Tournament.
The second-year head coach is convinced that the team’s workout needs will be much easier met than what he faced when re-working the schedule.
“We do have holes to fill, but we’re not filling those holes with young guys,” said Jones. “We’re filling those holes with upper classmen and with older guys who understand the expectations, completely. They know how hard you have to work and what level you have to work to be successful.
“Those younger guys, those freshmen, they’ve made a lot of improvement since the first day, but there’s a difference. We work at a faster pace in the varsity room, and it’s intentional. Wrestling is a sport where you can’t waste time. You can beat your body up during a two-hour session, but if you didn’t get better because you weren’t really focused then it was a waste of time. Our older kids understand that.”
When the Tigers return from Winter Break they will understand that too. At least they better. Broken Arrow travels to Mustang on Jan. 7, to face a team that finished runner up to BA in both state tournaments a year ago. The next day is the start of the oldest wrestling tournament in the country, the Geary Invitational.
Of course, there is the COVID monster awaiting to devour a season at any moment.
“It’s going to be a game of management, because COVID 19 is going to bite somebody at some point,” Jones said. “There’s probably more competition out there this year than there has been in the past, as far as different teams with the potential. But, we’re looking to do something unprecedented. We have a three-peat on the line. But we fully have the ability.”
Jones looks to take Broken Arrow to its third consecutive state title sweep. The last time the Tigers captured the Dual State and State Tournament titles in three straight seasons was in 1998 to 2000.
Broken Arrow returns six wrestlers with state championship experience, led by two-time state champion Emmanual Skillings at 195. Three wrestlers – Christian Forbes (106), Blazik Perez (132) Jared Hill (138) – were runners up. Also back is fourth-place finisher Parker Witcraft (113). The sixth is Jordan Cullors, who was a 5A state champion at Collinsviille in 2019 before moving to Broken Arrow last season. He was injured and did not wrestle for BA a year ago.
Jones is expecting seniors like Braden Anderson, Casey Goss, Dayton Hill and Ramses Soto, along with junior Eli Hynes, to fill some of the holes left by graduation.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of replacing seniors with seniors and not having to go all the way back to a young group,” Jones said. “I think that’s the sign of a good program. This year is going to come down to those guys stepping up and proving themselves.”
And, steering clear of any pandemic-related schedule changes.
Mike Dooney is looking toward February.
The Broken Arrow Tigers girls head basketball coach is holding out hope that the pandemic does not wipe out the season and his young, inexperienced players will mature through the grind of the Frontier Valley Conference.
“I think we’ll peak in February and we’ll be ready for a playoff run,” Dooney said. “When you have young kids it’s exciting, because you get to see them progress throughout the year. But, it also can be a rollercoaster ride because you know you’re going to win some games you’re not supposed to and you’re going to lose some games you’re not supposed to.
In the meantime, Dooney will rely heavily on returning starters, Taleyah Jones and Kelsey Duffy, the only players back who saw significant minutes a season ago. Jones was the team’s leading scorer at 17.1 a game. Duffy has started since she was a freshman. She averaged 6.1 points last year and led the team with 58 assists.
“Kelsey has the experience and the leadership to lead our young kids,” Dooney said. “She knows exactly what the coaches are wanting from her and knows how to speak our language to the kids.”
While Dooney doesn’t foresee his young players matching the output of Duffy and Jones, he believes they have the ability to be competitive this season.
“A lot of our young kids lack the experience, but they are better athletes than what we’ve had since I’ve been in BA,” he said. “They can do some things that other kids can’t do simply because of God-gifted athleticism. That’s going to be fun to coach, and to watch their maturity and development. All year long we’re going see to these kids get better and better.”
He also knows that younger players face more of a challenge in overcoming in-game struggles and being mentally ready to stay focused each minute of each quarter.
“They’re not mature enough to have the mental capacity to handle the adversity when things are not going their way,” Dooney said. “They wear that a lot more than what an older kid would do.
“It’s going to be tough to be consistently good every game, but we’re going to be one of those teams that can play with anybody when our young kids come with the right mindset.”
Those young minds need to be right come game one. The gauntlet starts quickly and on the road for Dooney and his team. Up first is Union on Dec. 8, a top three team in Class 6A. Then it’s on to Sapulpa, last year’s conference champion, who could win the 2020-2021 Class 5A title.
It’s almost as if Beau Wallace immediately started feeling guilty for uttering the words he did as he looked ahead to the 2020-2021 basketball season.
“The hardest thing for us is figuring out our rotation,” the Broken Arrow Tiger head boys basketball coach said. “That’s the tough part for us and the good part. We can do a rotation and still bring two or three guys off the bench that could have started for us.”
Of the 15 or so guys who will suit up for the Tiger this season, seven have started at least one varsity game and most multiple games. Ten of the 15 are seniors.
The Tigers return 90 percent of their scoring from a year ago. And, it is balanced. Jaiell Talley’s 9.7 points and 6.9 rebounds lead the way. Tyler Pinder averaged 9.6 points, Ian Golden and Anthony Allen scored 8.2 a game and George McCurdy averaged 7.7.
Like all teams during this time of pandemic, the Tigers have not had nearly as many scrimmages as the coach would like, even though they did host a showcase last Saturday. A pre-Thanksgiving game at Tulsa Edison was canceled because of COVID-related issues with the Eagles. Plus, contact tracing has kept some of Wallace’s key players out of pre-season workouts and games.
“We haven’t had a chance to put those line ups in place right now,” he said.
“Earlier in the preseason, we were talking about rotating out of screens, and I told the guys I wanted to give them the opportunity of when to do it,” Wallace said. “I told them that two years ago we couldn’t do that. One of them said to me ‘Coach, two years ago we could barely get the ball up the floor. We didn’t know what we were doing.’
“To hear them say that made me realize that they understood there was a process and they weren’t as ready as sophomores as they thought they were.”
In the third year of growth, Wallace is convinced his team is ready to play loose and free.
“We’ve taken out sets,” he said. “We, as a staff, started looking at the past four or five people who have won state championships, and the way the game has changed or evolved, we have to let our kids play.
“We’ve got this thing called a ‘go mode’ where we’re trying to score in the first eight seconds of a possession. That’s the biggest thing, we’ve been harping on; letting our kids play more freely. It’s easier to do with seniors and juniors rather than freshmen and sophomores and some juniors.”
Freeing up his senior guard trio of Golden, McCurdy and Pinder to “create offensively” with dribble-drive penetration will result in layups for them, opportunities for shooters on the outside or easy buckets for the guys on the inside.
“I’ve seen a lot of areas where there is an understanding of how we want things done,” Wallace said. “It is about them setting the standard to making sure it gets done. By the time they’re seniors you’re not getting on them as much because they understand what you expect from them.”
The expectation for this group is to reach the state tournament and see what happens once they get there.
Broken Arrow opens the season on the road with games at Union and Sapulpa with the Edmond Memorial sandwiched between before a home date with Edison on Dec. 18.
Had it not been for the urging of an older sister, Broken Arrow Cheer coach Kyrstin Delehanty may have missed out on “one of the best back spots I’ve ever seen.”
Sophomore Trey Wilcher was convinced to try out for BA Cheer by his sister Trinity, a 2020 BAHS graduate and a Varsity Cheerleader. In his first season with the squad, Wilcher has not only become a key spotter, but also received a Tiger S.T.R.I.P.E.S. medallion of Excellence for the effort and conviction he has put into learning his task.
“He’s worked tirelessly to improve his coed stunting,” Delehanty said. “He is such a hard worker and is an incredible person and athlete.”
Throughout the year, coaches recognize players for demonstrating the traits of Tiger S.T.R.I.P.E.S.: Service, Trust, Respect, Integrity, Positive Attitude, Excellence, and Self-Discipline. The following is an explanation of each of the seven pillars of the Tiger S.T.R.I.P.E.S. acronym:
Service – Work done for the betterment of school and community
Trust – Rely on one another by creating healthy, dependable relationships.
Respect – Display good manners and compassion, and expect it in return.
Integrity – Character is what you do when no one is looking.
Positive Attitude – Be a role model of optimism in action.
Excellence – Set high standards of excellence in both athletics and academics.
Self-Discipline – Use restraint as a tool for self-improvement.
Five Broken Arrow Tiger seniors earned District 6A-I-1 position awards this season.
Sanchez Banks was named Offensive Back of the Year.
Corey Williams was tabbed as Corner of the Year.
Rylie Griffin and Talon Wheeler were Offensive Line of the Year recipients.
Seth Dodd was named Punter of the Year.
Banks leads the team with 17 rushing touchdowns and 104 points, which includes a two-point conversion. He has rushed for 818 yard, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Williams has a team-high six interceptions. He has 47.5 tackles, including 40 solo tackles, a fumble recovery and one blocked kick.
Dodd is averaging 36.4 yard per punt, including a long of 56 yards and 10 punts inside the opponents 20-yard line.
Also named All-District were Garrett Hinesly, Jake Raines, Keyon Barnett, Jaiell Talley, Dakota Tomlinson, Lance Young, Cam Ferguson, Darryan Moss and Jaeland Johnson. Jeremiah Bracket and Brandon Barwig received Honorable Mention.
Awards were voted on by District 6A-I-1 football coaches.
Below is the complete list of district honors:
Coach of the Year – Rashaun Woods, Enid
Co-District Player of the Year – Stephen Kittleman, Jenks & Ethan Hyche, Edmond Santa Fe
Co-Offensive Player of the Year – Dayton Wolfe, Westmoore & Grant Lohr,
Defensive Player of the Year – Collin Oliver, Santa Fe
Co-Defensive End of the Year – Willie Prince, Norman & James Burnett, Santa Fe
Co-Defensive Tackle of the Year – CJ Adams, Enid & Devon Polley, Edmond Memorial
Outside Linebacker of the Year – Cedric McClendon, Norman
Co-Inside Linebacker of the Year – Ian McDonald, Edmond Memorial & Tyson Ward, Jenks
Safety of the Year – Micaiah Bivines, Norman
Corner of the Year - Corey Williams, Broken Arrow
Offensive Back of the Year – Sanchez Banks, Broken Arrow
Offensive Line of the Year – Ryan Denny, Santa Fe; Rylie Griffin, Broken Arrow; Talon Wheeler, Broken Arrow; Haden Crawley, Jenks' Logan Nobles, Jenks; Nate Gamble, Enid; Garret Humann, Westmoore
Wide Receiver of the Year – Jaden Bray, Norman
Tight End of the Year – Waylon Adams, Jenks
Returner of the Year – Angelo Rankin, Santa Fe
Punter of the Year – Seth Dodd, Broken Arrow
Kicker of the Year – Ryan Bussert, Edmond Memorial
Iron Man of the Year – Jayden Patrick, Jenks
Courage Award (overcoming injury) – Jonathan White, Enid; Caden Hernandez, Yukon; Josiah James, Westmoore
All district by school
Triston Brooke, Logan Grulkey, Travon Ware, Colton Phinney, Austin Jones, Blake Nail, Will Bost, Cameron Martin, Cody Pfieffer
Hon. Mention – Jacob Mirkes, Caleb Moore, Colby Baker, Kaden Allen, Nate Hopkins, Zach Mathews
JaQuan Richardson, Kylen Tennyson, Daunmonique Reece, KeShawn Oliver, Josh Steward, Sam Olajide
Hon. Mention – Ryan Minor, Kristian Liaja, Issac Stallings, Russell Raydon
Aidan Hamlin, Cormon Goff, Rob Ray, Blake Chandler, Cade Adams
Hon. Mention – Carson Riney, Cameron Goff, Mitchell Suttle
Aiden Rosales, Isaac Raymond Brown, Jayven Jackson, Micaiah Bivines, CJ McClendon, Jaden Bray, Willie Prince
Hon. Mention – Mario Sanchez, Alexander Norris, Art DeLoera
Isaac Arsee, Griffin Forbes, Joshua Heck, Chase Jackson, Will Mulready, Tim Pennington
Hon. Mention – Trey Bargas, Khaleel Berry
EDMOND SANTA FE
Micah Snoddy, Corey Spurgeon, Efram Njoroge, Shawn Allen, Gavin Duverger, Matt Barton, Blake Montgomery
Hon. Mention – Audrel Burge, Caleb Lawson, Caden Peters, Jaden Ploeger, Dustin Teupell
Garrett Hinesely, Jake Raines, Keyon Barnett, Jaiell Talley, Dakota Tomlinson, Lance Young, Cam Ferguson, Darryan Moss, Jaeyland Johnson
Hon. Mention – Jeremiah Bracket, Brandon Barwig
CJ Adams, Nate Gamble, Jonathan White
Hon. Mention – Taylor Frye, Maddux Mayberry, Tyler Holland, Dayton Griffin, Sean Graves, Savien Vasquez, Hunter Filarski