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.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
Cards fly into 3A State Tournament
Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Vinita eliminates Inola
Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Stilwell advances to State
A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
SOFTBALL: Arkansas cruises past Miss. Valley State
The University of Arkansas softball team completed an undefeated run through the Razorback Invitational Sunday afternoon win with a 13-5 victory over Mississippi Valley State at Bogle Park.
AAC WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: No. 1 UConn routs No. 3 Louisville for title
New league, same result. It's another championship for UConn.
Breanna Stewart scored 20 points and top-ranked Connecticut beat No. 3 Louisville 72-52 on Monday night to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: Sims leads Baylor to championship
Nothing was going to stop Odyssey Sims.
Not her early foul trouble, West Virginia's suffocating defense or the left ankle injury she suffered less than t wo minutes into the Big 12 championship game.
Sims, the Big 12 player of the year, bounced back and scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia 74-71 Monday night and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It was Sims' fourth championship in four years.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB: Kansas State fires coach Deb Patterson
Kansas State has fired women's basketball coach Deb Patterson, announcing the move two days after an opening-round loss in the Big 12 tournament.
NCAA MEN'S BB: Florida, Wichita State stay 1-2 in AP poll
Florida, which finished an unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference, and Wichita State, which completed an undefeated regular season, are the top two teams in the AP college basketball poll for the third straight week.
- More Sports Headlines
- 'Twice as Nice'