Moore offensive line paving the way for big offensive numbers

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Moore's Jayce Gardner runs with the ball during Moore War on Sept. 6 at Moore Stadium. Moore tackles Braxton Maldonado and Jalen Gordon, guards Jakhari Sykes and Rocco Mays, and center Luke Wilkins have helped fuel Moore's skill player production this fall.

Moore’s skill position players have gotten plenty of headlines and attention, and deservedly so as its offense has piled up nearly 50 points a game through the first half of the season.

But the Lions’ offensive linemen have made much of that happen, blocking for stars like Daniel Hishaw Jr., Jayce Gardner and others. Moore's group up front has jelled more each week.

“Those guys have set the tone for us in moving the ball,” Moore coach Brad Hill said. “They have gone out and been physical and allowed us to do good things.”

The Lions’ primary five is made up of tackles Braxton Maldonado and Jalen Gordon, guards Jakhari Sykes and Rocco Mays, and center Luke Wilkins. Of the group, only Wilkins and Gordon are seniors with the rest still around for another year.

And while the Lions’ versatility affords the option to run plays in directions all over the formation, they seemingly go behind Mays and Gordon on the right side when it’s time to buckle down and gain a few important yards, often also utilizing the talents of tight ends Alex Baxter and Austin Gross to clear the way as lead blockers.

Hishaw’s prowess has been well documented from the quarterback position, with the senior nearing 1,400 total yards in the first half of the season. But he’s not alone in the Moore backfield.

Gardner, who has split time at running back the previous two years for MHS before taking the lead on starting duties in his senior year, has thrived. He torched Norman North for a team-high 194 yards in a 56-21 win last week and his overall numbers are massive – 62 carries for 690 yards (11.1 yards per carry) – and five touchdowns.

“Jayce runs so hard every play, he’s such a competitor,” Hill said. “He’s taken on the responsibility this year and been really good for us.”

• Surviving a crazy week: Week five of the high school season saw some unexpected results, to say the least.

Mustang, fresh off a three-point defeat to Norman North, stunned Tulsa Union 23-21. And Yukon, which hadn’t shown a lot so far, upset Edmond Santa Fe, 31-21. Those decisions could have ramifications in scrambling the playoff race for each district in Class 6A, Division I.

Carl Albert saw a 40-game winning streak snapped in a 10-6 loss at Piedmont, which is coached by Jeff Hall, a perennial winner when he coached nearby Lexington earlier this decade.

Westmoore almost became another upset victim Friday, narrowly escaping against a winless Edmond Memorial squad. The Jaguars trailed off and on all night before a late touchdown secured a 33-26 victory against a Bulldogs team that had appeared punchless much of the season.

• Trending positively: Southmoore Coach Jeremy Stark has preached improvement and consistency from his young squad this year. And while the wins haven’t come yet for an 0-5 squad, some of the numbers and the general play are showing some good signs.

Last week, the Sabercats produced their best defensive performance of the year against Putnam City North. Especially impressive was a second half that saw Southmoore force two turnovers and hold the unbeaten Panthers to just a single score, albeit on a night the Sabercats still fell short of victory.

The 36 points allowed don’t sound spectacular, but they were a nice gain after Southmoore had given up 54.5 a game for the first four weeks, twice allowing more than 60. And two of those points came from a PCN safety, while two of the Panthers’ early touchdowns were set up on short drives after Southmoore turnovers.

The Sabercats take their next shot this week against Mustang, which could be ripe for a letdown after its big win last Friday.

• Extra-point adventures: At times this year, Moore has struggled on its conversions, failing seven times in the first four games. Last week, though, was a different story, as the Lions were 100 percent, converting all eight extra point kicks, seven by starting kicker Carlos Soto and the eighth from Sheldon Worlund.

Conversions helped Westmoore in its season-opening win against the Lions but nearly killed the Jaguars Friday. Westmoore failed on its first three tries against Edmond Memorial, two of them on two-point conversion attempts, adding to what was a closer-than-expected finish.

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