NORMAN — When his senior season began, Derek Harris had all eyes on him. He was the starting quarterback for a Moore team trying to slowly turn around a program that had floundered.
However, after getting injured in the first game of the season against Westmoore, Harris lost his starting job. Instead of sulking and complaining about no longer being quarterback, he looked for other ways to help the Lions.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Harris said. “I’ve always played other positions besides quarterback. When I didn’t play at quarterback, it opened up more options for me on special teams and defense and offense. I enjoy playing defense. I’ve always been a defensive player. I enjoyed played defense more than I enjoyed playing offense. But playing quarterback I felt was the best place for me on the team at the time. But then when I wasn’t playing quarterback, I got to play special teams and defense again.”
Harris became one of the Lions’ top receivers and a special teams maven. But it was on defense at safety were he made the biggest difference. In doing so, Harris was named to the Oklahoma Coaches Association West All-State football team.
“I was happy I made it,” Harris said. “It really was a surprise. I had like an idea that I might make it, but I didn’t know I was going to. I felt I had a pretty strong year. The best year out of my years at Moore.”
Harris will join some of the best players around the state in the annual All-State game July 27 at Union Tuttle Stadium. It’s something he never thought he would get the chance to play in until last season.
“Last year my step brother (Austin Bowling) made all-state from Westmoore,” Harris said. “I went and watched him in it last year. He told how much of a big deal it was. For me to make it is pretty cool.”
Harris is joined on the West squad by Norman High’s Zach Uhles and Norman North’s Jake Higgenbothom and Jaxon Uhles.
However, Oklahoma commit Jordan Evans and several other of the area’s top talents were not selected to the team. That includes no one from Southmoore or Westmoore.
“I am really disappointed that we had no one make OCA All-State,” Westmoore coach Billy Langford said. “I felt like we were one of the better teams in the state and to have no one make All-State was really disappointing. I feel bad for our players because I know we have some of the best guys around that are very deserving to be All-State. I think playing in a district on the other side of the state also hurt our guys. No one got to see them play Union, Broken Arrow and Jenks. We played all those games on the road.”
While Westmoore and Southmoore were left off the All-State team, they each had players make the OCA 6A All-Star West team. They include the SaberCats duo of Tre Edwards and Jackson Stallings and the Jaguars’ Josh Morgan and John Finn.
The Tigers’ Zach Long and Uhles and the Timberwolves’ Higgenbothom, Beau Proctor and Jaxon Uhles also made the team.
“It’s an honor to be named West 6A quarterback,” Edwards said. “All the hard work I’ve put in, it finally paid off. It means the world to me. It’s awesome, Jackson and I first started hanging out in the eighth grade, and we always talked about doing something like this our senior year. It’s very special.”
Langford was happy to see his team get some recognition also.
“John Finn has had a great career here at Westmoore” Langford said. “He is a four year starter and got better each and every year. He had his best season this year. Josh Morgan has also had a great career here at Westmoore. He is a four year starter and amazing story coming back from the injury he suffered at the beginning of his sophomore season. He is by far the biggest, fastest, strongest linebacker I have ever been around.”
Despite that, Harris will be the only area player playing in the all-state game.
“It makes no sense that only one player is represented from the Moore area,” Stallings said. “Other players in the area are as deserving, if not more so, from more successful programs.”
Regardless, Harris said he will make the most of this opportunity. He hasn’t gotten any offers yet to play college football and hopes he can turn his all-state nod into one. If not, he said he will just go to school for academics.
Even though he won very few games throughout his career at Moore, Harris said he wouldn’t change a thing.
“I loved every minute of it,” Harris said. “I loved all my teammates, coach and had a great time.”