When it comes to success on the gridiron, Charlie Murdock is hungrier than ever.
The Claremore senior quarterback said he knows this is his last chance to capture a state championship.
And if consecutive losses in the quarterfinals to three-time defending champion Carl Albert weren’t enough, his family rivalry with his older brother Max will certainly do the trick.
See, Murdock isn’t a Zebras lifer like many of his teammates.
He spent his freshman year at Owasso High School, where Max attended as well. After the Rams missed the 2016 playoffs with a 3-7 record, Murdock decided to forgo his future at the Class 6A-I school in favor of transferring to Claremore.
The move made sense, and his family ties at the school made the transition to the Zebra family all the more easier.
“My stepdad is actually coach Kevin Smith, the defensive coordinator,” Murdock said. “He’s also the assistant athletic director here, so I thought it’d be cool to play for him.”
Max remained at Owasso as the starting center, helping the Rams to the 2017 Class 6A-I state championship with a win over Tulsa Union.
Murdock was admittedly a little jealous of his brother’s new jewelry, but he said he has no regrets concerning his 30-minute move to the east.
“I’ve seen his ring up close and personal,” Murdock said. “(Max) did initially give me a hard time, but he’s backed off and been supportive of me. To me, the experiences I’ve gotten here and the friendships I’ve created, it’s been worth it.
“It’s definitely made me very hungry to go out there and perform and do everything I have to do to help the team win, whatever that may be.”
High expectations surrounded the Claremore football program entering the 2019 season, and its high-powered offense showed exactly why in the season opener on Sept. 6.
Murdock threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-28 passing, leading the Zebras to a 26-0 halftime lead on the way to a 40-28 victory. He also rushed for a score.
In all, Claremore outgained the Bruins, 414-182, despite getting outscored 28-14 in the second half.
The offense seemed to be in midseason form already, but things have since taken a negative turn.
Despite averaging more than 300 yards per game, the Zebras have been outscored, 104-50, in their last three games against Sapulpa, Edison and Collinsville.
Murdock threw for a combined 675 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in those losses, completing about 57.8 percent of his passes.
He has tallied 936 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions on 72-of-119 passing for the season.
Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
“We talk about it in quarterback meetings all the time,” Murdock said. “You can’t dwell on past plays, good or bad. You have to move on and stay levelheaded.”
Luckily for Murdock and Claremore, all their goals are still ahead of them.
With district play underway, mistakes won’t be as easily forgiven or forgotten as they were through the first three weeks of the season.
For the Zebras’ offense to meet expectations set by themselves and others, Murdock said he must improve at making reads and calling audibles.
“We have to do a better job of executing the plays and what’s called,” Murdock said. “If it’s not there, obviously I have to do a better job of switching out of it if the defense has it covered up and changing to something that’ll work.”
With weapons like Dylan Kedzior, Qunetin Skinner, Jace Hightower and DeShawn Kinnard, Murdock is still one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in Class 5A.
Don’t count the Zebras out just yet.