When driving down North Sioux Avenue on Tuesday evenings, one might see quite a bit of activity at Lantow Field.
That is because Claremore football hosts anywhere from six to eight teams in a 7-on-7 setting from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. on a weekly basis during the first month of summer.
It has been a tradition for as long as Zebras coach Jarrett Hurt can remember.
“I’ve been here 11 years, and we’ve been doing it for 11 years,” Hurt said. “Probably even before that. We’ve been doing it for quite a while. It’s a great way to get out here and throw the ball around and for our defensive guys to line up against different formations against different teams for different looks.”
One will typically see the same teams participate every week, but there are some fresh faces every now and then. Siloam Springs made the hour-plus trip from Arkansas during the first scrimmage on June 4.
Claremore welcomed Adair, Catoosa, Miami, NOAH and Oologah for this week’s festivities.
Although it may be more difficult to gauge certain things because of the relaxed environment provided by no pads and hip hop music blasting in the background, nothing escapes Hurt’s watchful eyes.
Especially when it comes to team coordination.
“I think our chemistry is better this week than it was last week,” Hurt said. “We’ve got a lot of great individual parts, and if we can get all those individual parts working together at the same time, I think we have a great chance to have a great team chemistry this year.”
There is no shortage of multi-sports athletes at Claremore High.
Some play basketball, and others might run track or wrestle.
However, two athletes who have made a name for themselves during spring football are Brooks Sherl and Ethan Grimett.
Sherl and Grimett are both members of the Zebras’ baseball team, and their dedication to the sport hasn’t subsided during the developmental football months.
That is thanks in large part to the player-sharing policy Claremore coaches practice.
In this case, Hurt and baseball coach Jim Sherl allow Brooks Sherl and Grimett to alternate between the sports when the scheduling conflicts arise.
That way both get a healthy dose of football while still sharpening their baseball skills in summer league.
“We want kids playing multiple sports here in Claremore,” Hurt said. “We want a lot of multi-sport kids. Some nights they play baseball, some nights they come to 7-on-7, and we’re all really good with that.”
Brooks Sherl and Grimett just happen to be vying for starting positions on the gridiron this fall.
“Brooks is fighting for a spot in our secondary as a starter, and he’s also fighting for a spot at receiver as a starter,” Hurt said. “He’s also a big guy in our return game, so we expect a lot of big things out of Brooks this year.
“Ethan had an outstanding ninth-grade year last year, and we expect him to compete for a spot at tight end and inside linebacker.”
Claremore’s season opener against Bartlesville is still three months away, but that doesn’t mean Hurt and the Zebras aren’t looking forward to the encounter.
The team is striving to meet plenty of goals this season, but the first one is to beat the Bruins.
Why? Probably because Claremore has never beaten Bartlesville in football.
According to IWasAtTheGame.com, the programs have met five times since 2008, and the Bruins have a stranglehold on the series.
Bartlesville has outscored the Zebras 166-69, winning by an average of 19.4 points.
The largest margin of victory for the Bruins came in a 56-22 decision in 2015, but Claremore has kept it within seven points on two occasions — 2014 and 2018.
Could this be the year the Zebras finally end their losing streak to the pesky Bruins?
“We want to go up to Bartlesville and get a victory so we can finally say Claremore beat Bartlesville in a football game,” Hurt said. “We take it one week at a time around here, and that’s the next one on the schedule, so that’s our goal at this time.
“After that game, we’ll have a new goal.”