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Who were the best foes faced?

July 18, 2021 - 00:00
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Swisher looks back at the 3 most prolific opponents for local teams in last 20 years

  • Who were the best foes faced?
  • Who were the best foes faced?
    THE AIR UP THERE – This pic of Blake Griffin soaring for a rebound in the 2007 Class 2A state title game was taken from the Oklahoma Tipoff magazine produced by CoachesAid. Griffin was a dominant force on the court in high school, including the two time

When you cover the six Kingfisher County schools and Crescent and the tradition-rich programs some of them have possessed over the course of 20-plus years, you’re going to come across some great players.

The list of local players who had great high school careers is endless, but I’m talking more specifically against talent our teams have gone up against. Remember

Remember when Craig Patterson’s first Kingfisher boys basketball team battled future NBA’er Kelenna Azubuike and Victory Christian at the state tournament?

Or Kingfisher football’s misfortune of running up against Sterling Shepard not once, but twice, during the 2010 season? Shepard went on to an All-American career at OU and is now with the New York Giants.

Dover played against - and beat - Heather Kephart twice in state title games in 2002 and 2003. Kephart was the state’s all-time leading scorer for 5-on-5 girls basketball when they met in that 2003 tilt.

When Okarche lost to Howe in the girls Class A semifinals in 2004, the Lady Lions’ Stephanie McGhee had taken over the all-time scoring crown.

The list can go on and on, but - to me - there are three players who our local teams have faced at least once that stand out, either for what they accomplished collegiately and/or for how high they were drafted. The three:

Jason White

The Tuttle Tiger was already an OU football signee when his team visited Kingfisher during the 1998 season. His athleticism made him one of the most highly sought-after quarterbacks in the country.

He showed the Jackets why when he ran and threw for touchdowns, kicked extra points, kicked a field goal and even punted as Tuttle won 38-7.

Just by watching one or two plays, you could tell White wasn’t just bigger, but faster and more physical than everyone else on the field.

When I saw Josh Farrar - who wasn’t a small defensive back - bounce off of him while trying to tackle him, I knew White was different. Kingfish

Kingfisher and Tuttle that season eventually advanced to the state semifinals where both teams lost.

White, of course, went on to a stellar career at OU, but not before it was derailed by two ACL injuries.

He reinvented himself as a player and had two of the most prolific seasons for a quarterback in OU history in 2003 and 2004.

That includes winning the Heisman Trophy in 2003.

Blake Griffin

Never have I seen a more dominant player in any sport while covering Oklahoma high schools since 1997.

I get into games for free, but would have paid to see Blake Griffin.

I remember watching him during his sophomore season at Oklahoma Christian School when his brother, Taylor, was a senior.

Taylor was OU-bound, but Blake was starting to come into his own. With OCS about to win its second straight title, Taylor made some late drives to the bucket to further add to his team’s margin against Sequoyah-Tahlequah in the 2005 3A title game.

The next time down, Taylor drove, drew in the defense and dished to Blake, then a long but skinny underclassman.

Blake threw down a thunderous dunk. The two repeated the sequence on the next possession.

I always considered it a passing of the torch from Taylor to Blake.

Boy did Blake ever take it and run.

Over the next two seasons, Blake Griffin cut a path of dominance that has rarely been seen on Oklahoma high school courts.

The Saints were a small school, but took on all comers. Blake dominated them all.

That included Bishop McGuinness in 2007, the defending (and eventual) 4A champ that featured 6-foot-6 senior Michael Sosanya and 6-foot-10 sophomore Daniel Orton.

Sosanya was a tremendous high school post player who went on to play at UCO.

Orton eventually played a season at Kentucky before becoming a first-round draft pick.

Griffin had 26 points - including six dunks - and 16 rebounds.

After winning 3A titles in 2004 and 2005, the world of 2A basketball was disgusted to learn OCS was dropping down a class beginning with the 2005-06 season.

Enter Crescent.

The Tigers made the 2005 state tournament for just the third time in program history.

There they went up against Pawnee in the quarterfinals. Pawnee had a freshman named Keiton Page.

Although Crescent played Pawnee tough, Page’s team emerged and eventually won the 2005 state title.

(Ed. note: Page is another one of the “greats” local teams went up against. He is one of Oklahoma’s all-time great high school boys basketball players. He’s second on the all-time scoring list and won three state titles. Ironically, the one year he didn’t win it - his junior season in 2007 - his team played Blake Griffin and OCS in the 2A state finals. He’s also the brother of Hennessey boys coach Brady Page.)

Fortunately for Crescent, it was able to get back to the state tournament in 2006 and 2007.

Unfortunately for Crescent, it had to play Blake Griffin and the OCS Saints both years in the quarterfinals.

In 2006, the Tigers again hung tough against a favored foe. They were down just six points at half and by three points with 2:00 left in the third quarter.

That’s when Crescent got into foul trouble and had to go with a smaller lineup.

Against Blake, that’s not a good option.

The Saints pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to a 58-34 win. Griffin ended his night with 28 points.

The next year, the game was never in doubt.

Griffin had 24 points and 15 rebounds. OCS beat Crescent 67-37.

(Note: Poor Crescent. The Tigers had a great run with Bart Watkins from 2005-07. Made state all three years but ran up against two of the most prolific players in Oklahoma preps history in each of those seasons.)

Griffin won a state championship in each of his four seasons at OCS. He was a McDonald’s All-American and had a solid freshman season at OU (one that yours truly covered for Sooners Illustrated).

It was his sophomore season that truly put him on the map as he became a dominant force. He was almost every publication’s NCAA national player of the year, led OU to the Elite Eight and was eventually the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

In 13 NBA seasons (he missed the 2009-10 season with an injury), Griffin has averaged 20.9 points and 8.6 rebounds.

Jackson Jobe

It’s a name a lot of you may not know…at least not yet.

I’ll admit, prior to the 2021 baseball season, I knew of him by name only, but that quickly changed.

His name started picking up steam during the season, but he made sure everyone at Homier Field remembered him with his performance against the Kingfisher Yellowjackets on April 19.

In the first of a two-game series that would decide the district champion, the Heritage Hall pitcher threw a gem to lead the Chargers to a 4-0 win.

Jobe threw just 82 pitches over six innings.

He allowed one Kingfisher hit, struck out 16 batters and walked none.

Ian Daugherty’s first-inning single was Kingfisher’s only baserunner until the seventh inning when the Jackets were able to get a hit off a Charger reliever.

More than a dozen scouts were here to see Jobe, the son of former PGA golfer Brandt Jobe.

He didn’t disappoint them.

One scout clocked his fastball at 99 miles per hour. The pitch routinely hit the mid 90s and his curveball and slider were offerings the Jackets had no shot at touching.

Jobe’s performance in Kingfisher wasn’t atypical. It wasn’t the exception.

It was the norm.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder went 9-0 for the Chargers as they won the 4A state title.

He struck out 122 batters in 51 2/3 innings (that’s 2.4 strikeouts per inning).

Here are crazier numbers in my opinion: His ERA was a minuscule 0.13 and he walked only FIVE batters all season.

Oh and he’s not a onetrick pony.

Jobe hit .469 and with six homers and 38 RBIs as well.

He was named the state’s player of the year by The Oklahoman and also collected the Gatorade Player of the Year award for baseball.

Jobe is signed to play for Ole Miss, but the chances of him ever throwing a pitch for the Rebels are about as solid as me living full-time in Malibu this time next week.

Last Sunday, Jobe was selected with the third overall (OVERALL!) pick in the MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers.

He became the highest-drafted high school player ever out of Oklahoma.

Dylan Bundy (2011) and Darrell Porter (1970) were both taken fourth in their respective drafts straight out of high school. (Note: Jon Gray of Chandler was taken No. 3 in 2013, but that was after his OU career. Braden Looper of Mangum was also taken No. 3 in 1996, but played at Wichita State. Mike Moore of Eakly and Joe Carter of Millwood were taken No. 1 and 2, respectively, in 1981, but that was also after they played collegiately.)

I watched Bundy multiple times as a freshman and sophomore at Sperry and then as a junior and senior at Owasso. He was selected fourth overall as a pitcher by Baltimore.

I’ve always considered him the best overall baseball player I’ve ever seen in person.

Jobe is the first player to make me question that belief.

In researching Jobe further after he pitched against KHS, I ran across this:

“Guys that throw breaking balls exceeding 3,100 RPMs (revolutions per minute) are rare. Of the nearly 47,000 sliders thrown in Major League Baseball in 2020, just 353 of them exceeded 3,100 RPM,” wrote Joe Doyle, the MLB Draft director for Prospects Live. “There were just nine pitchers in baseball last year that threw more than 10 of them over the course of the entire season.

“Jobe routinely floats around that 3,100 mark during an entire outing. 99th percentile stuff and then some.”

I can’t find it again, but after the draft, I read a tweet that said there were current MLB pitchers asking Jobe how he grips certain pitches (to get the spin he does).

Time will tell on the rest of Jobe’s story, but he’s certainly already history-making in Oklahoma with his high draft pick.