It’s Brinley Brown’s time to shine for the Claremore Zebras.
On Thursday night, Brown will make his first varsity start at quarterback in the 2013 season opener against Rogers County rival — the Oologah Mustangs.
Brown and the Zebras will kick off their home opener at 7 p.m. in what’s being deemed the final “Battle of Rogers County”.
Claremore carries a 14-7 advantage over Oologah, including 4-1 under head football coach Rob Gilbreath since 2008.
“It’s not hard to get motivated when Claremore and Oologah play,” according to Gilbreath. “You always want to beat your rival.”
Brown helped rally Claremore to a 20-13 win over the Mustangs in 2012, after taking over for injured starting quarterback Matt Whatley.
It was during that time that Brown gained the confidence of Gilbreath and his teammates.
“Brinley is a solid leader and a very coachable player,” Gilbreath said. “He knows the offense and it’s not like Thursday night will be his first rodeo. He’s played in a lot of games, so that experience is a plus going into the season.”
Helping ease the pressure on Brown’s shoulders will be three of the best wide receivers in Class 5A in seniors Caleb Webster and Hunter Garroutte, as well as junior Dustin Basks.
Webster and Basks combined for 55 catches and 878 yards with eight touchdowns in 2012, while Garroutte chipped in with seven receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
“Dustin’s our playmaker and the fastest player on the team,” Gilbreath said. “We have to be able to get him the ball 10-to-12 times a game. He’s that valuable to our offense.
“Caleb’s also a big-time target at 6-3 and has soft hands, plus his greatest asset is getting those 10 to 12 yards and moving the chains.”
Gilbreath said that Oologah’s defense will line up in a 4-2-5 scheme with their best player being sophomore linebacker Jimmy McKinney (6-1, 205).
“Oologah doesn’t blitz a lot but on occasion they will bring the smoke or SAM (McKinney) by himself off the edge. Also, they will twist up front on passing downs,” Gilbreath added. “We think we can attack their secondary as they usually have two safeties and their corners playing 8 yards off the ball.”
Defensively, the Zebras will face a big, physical team led by junior quarterback Payton Craig (6-3, 185) and senior offensive linemen Tyler Base (6-4, 285) and Britton Bishop (6-4, 280).
“Oologah has the ability to score on any play,” Gilbreath said. “Their quarterback (Craig) is the coach’s son and has a lot of ability. His favorite receiver is (Breyden) DeSpain, who started for them as a freshman. Their running backs (Keim) and (McKinney) are athletic and strong. The McKinney kid is a big, athletic looking player, who has been called the sophomore phenomenon.”
Gilbreath noted that Oologah will come out fired up and playing hard.
“This is the last time that we (Claremore) will play Oologah,” Gilbreath said. “This has been a great Rogers County Rivalry and the kids and fans will always remember the last one. Hopefully, we can put this one in the record books as a victory.”
Bragging rights on the line in final Claremore-Oologah meeting
It’s Brinley Brown’s time to shine for the Claremore Zebras.
3A AREA PLAYOFFS: Verdigris battles Tahlequah Sequoyah in Checotah
Verdigris senior guard Caitlyn Hanslovan drained two key 3-pointers during Saturday’s Class 3A Regional Finals that provided a spark and a huge win over Vian.
Hanslovan, who is accustomed to winning state championships in soccer, will look to move the No. 3-ranked Lady Cardinals one step closer toward a berth in the 3A State Tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in the area finals against Tahlequah Sequoyah at Checotah High School.
Catoosa HS set to host Class 6A Girls Area; 5A Boys Area tourneys
For high school basketball enthusiasts in Rogers County, Catoosa High School is the place to be on Thursday and Friday.
Catoosa High School will host the Class 6A Girls Area and Class 5A Boys Area over the two-day period.
Class 3A Regional Champions
It’s takes two to tango and the Verdigris basketball teams are dancing their way to the Class 3A Area Finals.
With a state tournament berth on the line Friday night, both Verdigris teams return to a familiar place on the road to state in Oklahoma City.
The Class 3A No. 3-ranked Lady Cardinals waltzed past Vian, 58-46 and the No. 4-ranked Cardinals decked Eufaula, 66-53 to cap off the regional championship night Saturday inside the Jack Collins Fieldhouse.
Claremore set to host 4A Area Basketball Tournament
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NBA CAPSULES: Duncan paces Spurs past Heat
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MLB: Hill arrives at Red Sox camp following son's death
Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill starts spring training with a heavy heart.
Hill reported to Boston's camp on Thursday following the death of son Brooks, who was less than 2 months old when he died on Feb. 24.
Sports medicine pioneer Frank Jobe dies at 88
Dr. Frank Jobe, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon who was the first to perform an elbow procedure that became known as Tommy John surgery and saved the careers of countless major league pitchers, died Thursday. He was 88.
AP Source: 10-second rule withdrawn by committee
Round one of the pace-of-play debate goes to the proponents of fast football.
The NCAA football rules committee tabled a proposal Wednesday that would have penalized offenses for snapping the ball before 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock, The Associated Press has learned.
Florida OC Roper gets 3-year deal worth up to $2M
Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper can earn up to $2 million under a three-year contract he signed last month.
Texas A&M OL Matthews looks to continue family tradition in NFL
Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews will be the seventh member of his family to play in the NFL if he is drafted as expected in May.
He knows his football lineage doesn't hurt him, but hopes that his work as a four-year starter for the Aggies is what really wows the scouts.
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