Oklahoma's annual All-State football game is back on, following a productive three-week process.
The Oklahoma Coaches Association axed its All-State football game on May 20, along with the rest of its All-State events, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Oklahoma Football Coaches Association, a separate entity from OCA, stepped in over the past month to make it happen.
The OFBCA finalized an agreement with Oklahoma Baptist University on Wednesday to hold its own All-State football game at Shawnee’s Crain Family Stadium on July 25. The OCA’s All-State rosters and alternates will still be utilized for the exhibition, scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
Determining demand for the game was the first step in the OFBCA’s efforts to revive the game, which there was plenty.
“We've had a lot of people that have supported high school athletics that are really stepping up to help make this thing possible,” said Justin Jones, the OFBCA’s executive director and Norman North’s head football coach. “We've been blown away as a board by the response that we're getting. And so, we're full steam ahead to try to get this thing to go.”
One of the main obstacles was landing a venue. Jones said the organization approached myriad sites, including high schools, but ultimately found a partnership with Oklahoma Baptist.
The health and safety of student-athletes and coaches were at the forefront of the organization’s preliminary discussions with Oklahoma Baptist, according to Jones.
The university will ultimately control whether or not ticket sales will be limited and construct what safety guidelines will be in place.
The OFBCA and Oklahoma Baptist, along with the game’s title sponsor Skordle.com, aim to make it as memorable of a day as possible.
Skordle.com will carry a video stream of the game online, while Oklahoma Baptist intends to create a typical gameday atmosphere.
“From the video board to all the things that go with a gameday operation, I think they're going to run it just like they would a college game for them,” Jones said.
“So, it was a win-win for both of us. I think for OBU, it gets people from all over the state to get into its stadium that are willing to come. And on our end, it gives these guys a chance to kind of get back one of those things that they thought they lost.”
It’s a final opportunity for former Norman High quarterback Cade Horton and offensive lineman Ben Sparks to play together. It’s also a chance for them to team up with former Norman North offensive lineman Logan Furnish on the All-State West squad.
Hunter Largent, the Noble defensive line standout, also earned All-State honors, as did Moore’s Jayce Gardner and Daniel Hishaw Jr. Gardner as a running back and defensive back, respectively.
“I think we've got a solid plan together, and we can keep the athletes safe and still play this football game and do it the right way,” Jones said. “That's where we're at. We're still in the planning stages of all the protocols and things that we're going to do, but the games a go, and we're excited about July 25. It's gonna be a great event.”
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