High school football seems to fly by faster and faster each year, and 2019 was no different.
Although eight months and some change stand between the nine Rogers County teams and next season, there are plenty of highlights and surprises to reminisce about as we move further into the offseason.
Here is a look back at the season through the eyes of Progress sports editor Kevin Green.
Editor’s note: Selections are based on events Green witnessed firsthand unless otherwise stated.
MOST IMPRESSIVE INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE
Toby Willis vs. Perkins-Tryon — Not even the second-ranked defense in Class 3A could stop Toby Willis.
The Verdigris senior receiver continually found himself alone in the Perkins-Tryon secondary despite being double and triple teamed most of the game, finishing with 191 yards and three touchdowns on only seven receptions—about 27.3 yards per catch.
He hauled in touchdown grabs of 56, 20 and 26 yards in the Cardinals’ 42-28 win in the Class 3A quarterfinals on Nov. 22.
At halftime, Willis had more receiving yards (162) than the Demons had total yards (147).
Honorable Mention: Dylan Kedzior vs. East Central — After being officially coronated as the Homecoming King before the game, it didn’t take Dylan Kedzior long to implement his will on both sides of the ball.
The senior caught five passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown, helping Claremore to a 55-15 win on Oct. 4.
Honorable Mention: Charlie Murdock vs. Memorial — In just over a quarter of action, Charlie Murdock completed five passes.
Four of them went for touchdowns.
The senior took care of business early in the 56-6 win, throwing touchdown passes of 18, 48, 21 and 55 yards to finish with 161 yards on 5-of-9 passing.
His only completion that didn’t go for a touchdown was a 19-yard pass to running back Jace Hightower.
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ethan Trosky (WR, Inola) — Despite having never played receiver before this season, Ethan Trosky proved to be one of the area’s most elite players at the position.
The senior wideout finished the regular season with 926 yards receiving and a school-record 16 touchdowns on 40 receptions.
He broke the record against Vinita on Nov. 1, surpassing Jacob Norman’s mark of 15, which was set in 2016.
Honorable Mention: DeShawn Kinnard (WR/RB, Claremore) — With starting running back Hightower and star receiver Quentin Skinner suffering injuries early in the season, DeShawn Kinnard stepped up in more ways than one.
The juniors saw time at both positions throughout the season, finishing with 530 yards receiving and eight touchdowns on 35 receptions while also rushing for 321 yards on 67 touches.
The junior debuted against Bartlesville on Sept. 6, rushing for 92 yards on 20 carries and snagging four receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown.
He also rushed for 129 yards on 27 carries in a 21-14 upset of then-undefeated Tahlequah on Nov. 8.
Against Memorial on Oct. 17, he caught two passes and scored on both, finishing with 103 yards (51.5 yards per catch).
Honorable Mention: Caden Parnell (RB, Verdigris) — Caden Parnell might’ve been a fresh face at Verdigris High School, but he played football like a seasoned veteran.
In 11 games, the freshman had 858 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on 136 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per touch. He also caught 11 passes for 123 yards.
Parnell eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times, but his best game came in a 62-14 win over Locust Grove in which he rushed for 187 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries.
GAME OF THE YEAR
Claremore vs. Bartlesville — Who doesn’t like a good comeback?
The game looked all but over after the Zebras jumped out to a 26-0 halftime lead, but the Bruins emerged from the locker room a different team, scoring 28 of the next 35 points to come within five at 33-28 late in the fourth quarter.
It took an Ethan Grimett interception at midfield with less than four minutes remaining to stave off the rally and secure Claremore’s first win over Bartlesville.
The Zebras then drove 44 yards in three minutes and five seconds, with Murdock capping the drive and the game with a 3-yard touchdown sneak.
Honorable mention: Verdigris vs. Perkins-Tryon — The Cardinals had never qualified for the semifinals, but that all changed on Nov. 22.
Verdigris racked up 481 yards of offense and 42 points on the Demons’ second-ranked defense that came into the game surrendering only 10.2 points per game.
Freshman quarterback Dylan White played out of his mind, tallying 387 yards through the air while tossing four touchdowns, and Willis was on the receiving end for nearly half those yards.
The defense did its part as well, forcing two turnovers while holding P-T to 0-of-3 on fourth-down conversions.
Things were tied at 14 late in the second quarter, but Verdigris scored 28 of the next 42 points—including a 21-0 run—to secure its first semifinals berth in school history.
WISH I COULD’VE BEEN THERE
Verdigris vs. Berryhill — Verdigris’ 35-21 win over previously unbeaten Berryhill for the District 3A-4 championship on Nov. 8 is the obvious choice here.
Coming into this game the Chiefs hadn’t lost a regular season contest since Nov. 6, 2015.
That is two days over four years. But Verdigris ended that streak in emphatic fashion.
Berryhill managed to rally from a 21-7 halftime deficit to knot the score in the fourth quarter, but an incredible seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown strike from White to Willis with 4:41 remaining put the Cardinals up for good.
Willis caught three passes on that drive and finished with 10 receptions for 99 yards.
We had this game staffed by correspondent Glenn Hibdon, but this kind of performance was history in the making and something I would’ve loved to witness myself.
Honorable Mention: Chelsea vs. Ketchum — Chelsea isn’t a powerhouse by any means, but it sure looked it on Sept. 6.
Led by a 233-yard, four-touchdown outing on the ground from sophomore running back Cash Ramsey, the Green Dragons dismantled Ketchum in the season opener, 52-13.
Ramsey had touchdown runs of 4, 10, 15 and 60 yards, while freshman Danny Comiford finished with 104 yards on five carries, scoring on runs of 31 and 57 yards.
This wasn’t just any game, though. It was Chelsea’s first win since Oct. 13, 2017 and its only victory of the 2019 season.
Although the Green Dragons finished the year with a 1-9 record, it would’ve been nice to sneak this game into the coverage schedule and give the Chelsea players some recognition for their rare accomplishment.