Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

July 10, 2012

All-Star shutout

Blue Eagles blank Redhawks with help from MVP Jake Phillips and former high school teammate, Colten Douillard.

A pair of former Keys High School football players led the Blue Eagles to a 16-0 victory over the Redhawks at the 11th annual Native All-Star Football Classic. While the offense scored 14 points, it was the Blue Eagles’ defense that made the victory possible.

Whether it was sacking the quarterback or breaking up a pass, the Blue Eagles’ defense kept the Redhawks off the scoreboard. The Blue Eagles’ defense scored two points on a safety with 6:19 left in the second quarter. The safety was a result of Keys’ Colten Douillard fumbling the ball, which gave the Redhawks possession on their own 7-yard line.

“We lucked out. Early on we were definitely going for some linebackers. It just worked out,” Blue Eagles head coach Cody Wilson said. “I think both sides got pretty even players. We had some defensive players that were smart. I am so proud of those guys.”

Both Blue Eagle touchdowns came in the second quarter. The first was a three-yard run by Trey Harjo of Holdenville with 7:36 left in the first half. Keys’ Jake Phillips scored the second and final touchdown in the game with 1.8 seconds left before halftime.  

“It’s just a great honor,” said Phillips, who was named the game’s move valuable player. “I want to thank my line and my backs. They made me look good.”

Phillips had to battle three other players for the starting quarterback position.

“It was a really good experience to play with guys from different heritage, coming together in a week to form a football team,” said Phillips.

Phillips’ former teammate, Douillard, was helped off the field in the third quarter and never returned to the game.

“I bit a hole in my lip.” Douillard said. “I was picked up and slammed on the ground. My mouth piece fell out and so I bit a hole in it.”

Douillard had some fumbles but rushed for 100 yards. He made contributions in other key plays, as well as being honored with the Blue Eagles’ offensive MVP award.

Another local player battling injury during the game was the Redhawks’ Stuart Polk, a former Sequoyah wide receiver and defensive back. Polk had an interception early in the second half and two catches on the ensuing drive before it ended with a Blue Eagle interception.

Polk was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter and never returned.

“I’m never ready to come out of the game, but I’ve been battling that cramp since the second quarter. It finally sat me down in the fourth,” Polk said.

By playing this game at Northeastern State’s Doc Wadley Stadium, Polk may have gotten a glimpse of his future.

“I plan to attend Northeastern and play some football here at NSU,” Polk said of his future plans. Polk has signed with Northeastern A&M in February.

This was the 11th year for the Native All-Star football Classic, and it was played before a record crowd for the game. More than 400 spectators watched from the stands and more watched online as the game was streamed live.

But, this was much more than a football game. Thirty-seven players, from across the nation, representing 19 native tribes spent a week in Tahlequah. During the week before the game there is talk of football. They have a combine, where players workout and get drafted by coaches. They are also taught the realities of being Native American. They are taught life lessons and given tools to overcome adversity and excel in the future. For the people responsible for producing the game it is a week of mentorship.

Those messages must have gotten through to the football players, because they decided to wear pink to honor one such mentor. Native Re-Vision Vice Chairman Cherokee Jewel Hicks was diagnosed with breast cancer while working to help produce this year’s game.

“Any opportunity I get to mentor or enlighten native youth, I’ll take it,” said Hicks. “This event is unique. It is a week-long combine, just like college and the NFL, where the players are also mentored and hopefully inspired to be their best in life. This is about native talent, because native talent is so often overlooked.”

Before the game the players presented Hicks with a signed football and signed jersey. That is also when they announced they wore pink in honor of her overcoming her struggle with cancer.

“The ball is going to be on my mantel,” said Hicks. “And we start planning next year’s event right after this game is finished. We are hoping it’s here again. NSU and Tahlequah have been great and very accommodating. We really appreciate it.”

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