Tahlequah Daily Press

January 17, 2014

Time to make All-District teams mean something

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

— Brennon Barth was stingy in 2013 — but in a good way. The Pryor quarterback racked up 37 touchdowns during the Tigers’ 12-game season, which ended in the Class 5A quarterfinals against Lawton MacArthur.

For good measure, Barth — while spearheading the “Ski Gun” option offense — amassed an eye-popping 1,822 rushing yards. In terms of Class 5A’s best, Barth was hot on the tail of McAlester’s Jarome Smith, who logged 2,025 yards — and also in two more games (thanks to a run to the state championship game).

Barth was as all but the definition of Most Valuable Player in 2013. Pryor, after losing Carson Smallwood to graduation, needed someone to engineer head coach Jason Freeman’s vaunted rushing attack.

Barth did so seamlessly.

So it stands to reason that Barth was one of the top honorees when District 5A-4 released its All-District team after the season. Yet, he wasn’t.

That’s right. He was left off.

Nowhere to be found.

Try again later.

And why?

He’s not a precious senior.

As it has been for ages for most — if not all — All-District teams, those high-and-mighty accolades are a Seniors Only Club.

That’s nonsense. It’s time to change that.

Said one high school football coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “there might be some underclassmen that were deserving.”

Ummmm, yeah. There weren’t just some. There were many.

The easy one is Barth, who accounted for 222 points — or 65.1 percent — of Pryor’s 341-point total in 2013.

Barth had a couple of teammates who were deserving, too, but were left off because they lack clout in the age department. Both Anthony Martinez — 73 tackles and two interceptions on defense, to go along with some solid offensive production — and Ryan Ogg — 66 tackles, 11 sacks and one fumble recovery — had All-District credentials.

Same goes for Claremore’s trio of Derrick Reliford, Dustin Basks and Baron Hope. All three were integral parts of Claremore’s success. Reliford ran for 1,300-plus yards, Basks wasn’t far from the 1,000-yard receiving mark on offense or the 80-tackle mark on defense, and Hope had an eye-popping 150 tackles.

But the assumption is their time will come later on.

Why make them wait? Being on an All-District team should mean something. Right now all it amounts to is being the “best” among a small, select group of players from a seven- or eight-team division.

Postseason honors should be for the best.

“It’s been like that as long as I can remember,” said a 5A coach who asked not to be identified by name. “The coaches want to honor seniors, and I don’t have a problem with that.”

Neither do I.

Central’s D’Angelo Brewer, Pryor’s Alex McCammon, Tahlequah’s Charles Lamons, Collinsville’s T.J. Johnson and Coweta’s Tristan Butcher are all seniors and all worthy candidates. And the list includes much more than just those five.

But leaving off guys such as East Central’s Trevon Cherry — 2,441 passing yards and 32 total touchdowns — and Tahlequah’s Reese Davis — one of 5A’s best with 170 tackles — is larceny.

Those players ought to be rewarded for great individual seasons. Not just a slap on the back and a “hey, maybe when you’re a senior...”



Deserving players on 5A-4 All-district

Pryor

Brennon Barth - 1,822 rushing yards / 37 touchdowns

Anthony Martinez - 26 catches, 319 yds, 3 TDs / 73 tackles, 2 INTs

Ryan Ogg - 66 tackles, 11 sacks, 1 fumble recovery

Claremore

- Derrick Reliford - 245 carries, 1,318 yards, 15 TDs

- Dustin Basks - 44 catches, 861 yds, 9 TDs / 76 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 FR

- Baron Hope - 150 tackles, 2 sacks

East Central

- Trevon Cherry - 167/293 passing, 2,441 yds, 23 TDs / 106 carries, 461 yards, 9 TDs

Tahlequah

- Reese Davis - 170 tackles, 2 sacks