When the ball is in the hands of Claremore junior wide receiver/defensive back Dustin Basks, good things happen.
Whether he’s catching passes, returning kickoffs or creating turnovers, Basks is making the right plays at the right time that essentially lead to Claremore scoring opportunities.
Last Friday night, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound two-way starter accounted for three touchdowns and recovered a fumble in Claremore’s 31-24 win over Coweta.
Claremore head coach Rob Gilbreath praised Basks for his ‘big-time play-making abilities’ following the game and stated that he’s glad ‘No.7’ is on our team.
Since the start of the 2013 season, the bigger the game, the better Basks has played.
With the Zebras needing a ‘must-win’ over Coweta in order to reach the Class 5A state playoffs for the second-straight season, Basks put the team on his shoulders and tamed the Tigers with his elusiveness and blazing speed.
Basks’ three touchdown performance earned him the Bob Hurley Ford Player of the Week, as well as the NewsOn6 Player of the Week.
Throughout the season, Basks has always put the team before himself, and last Friday night, that was evident in his ability to lead by example.
Early in the game, Basks got his first touchdown on a 24-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Brinley Brown that put Claremore up 7-0 with 8:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Two series later, with Coweta driving deep into Claremore territory, Basks forced and recovered a fumble that kept the Tigers from a scoring opportunity that potentially would have swung the momentum and lead into their favor.
The spark from the fumble recovery set up Basks’ second touchdown of the game.
In his first appearance in Claremore’s ‘Wildcat’ package, Basks took the direct snap, found a crease in Coweta’s defense and raced 34 yards untouched for the touchdown that put the Zebras up 14-7 with 1:17 left in the first quarter.
Both of his touchdowns in the first quarter were huge, according to Gilbreath, but his 94-yard kickoff return right at the start of the third quarter may have been the biggest of the night.
“I’m still thinking to myself, ‘how do you kick the ball to No. 7?’,” Gilbreath said after the game. “But, I’m glad they did, and Dustin got us the spark we needed to get this victory.”
Also, in the third quarter, Basks’ 32-yard reception — with one hand along the right sideline — from Brown set up Caleb Webster’s 45-yard touchdown.
With Brown rolling to his right to avoid the pressure from the backside, Basks got behind Coweta cornerback Caleb Wheeler and leaped high into the air to snare the 32-yard, one-handed reception that gave Claremore a first-down at the Coweta 45 yard line.
Time and time again, Basks has shown that he can make the hardest plays — or catches — look easy.
Heading into Week 10, Basks leads the Claremore receivers with 35 catches for 644 yards and six touchdowns. He’s averaging 18.4 yards per catch and 71.6 yards per game.
In Claremore’s 59-35 loss to McAlester, Basks hauled in a 70-yard touchdown reception — his longest on the season — and also sprinted 85 yards on the kickoff return for a touchdown.
Basks’ speed has allowed him to be a dangerous threat on offense, defense and special teams.
Not only has he proven to be weapon in the passing game, but lately, Basks has stoodout in the running game.
In nine games, Basks has 14 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
According to Gilbreath, “Dustin’s one of those players that allows us to use him in a variety of ways.”
Currently, Basks ranks fourth overall in the state and first in Class 5A in kickoff returns with 12 for 468 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaging 39 yards a return per game.
With his offensive numbers stealing the spotlight on most nights, Basks’ defense is just as valuable.
Since the injury to two-year starting safety Hunter Garroutte in the Tahlequah game on Oct. 4, Basks has shifted from his cornerback position to the middle of the field at free safety.
“We miss having Hunter (Garroutte) back there on defense, and his big-game ability,” Basks said earlier this season. “Since his injury, and knowing that I was going to get moved to free safety, I’ve relied on him for a lot of help on coverages and support.”
Basks ranks as third-leading tackler o the Zebras with 67 total tackles in nine games. He’s also recorded two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and two blocked field goals.