76th Oil Bowl has new feel

No team from Oklahoma, but two from Texas

By Zach Duncan

Saturday, June 15, 2013

For the first time since 1961 and only the ninth time ever, the Oil Bowl won’t pit Texas against Oklahoma.

Because of the format change, there was less tension this week leading up to the 76th edition of the all-star football game.

However, that doesn’t mean the tackles will be softer or the stakes will be lower when West Texas and East Texas convene at 7:30 p.m. today at Memorial Stadium.

“I’m not sure in the end it won’t be a little more heated battle just due to the fact they know each other more than they would if it was Texas vs. Oklahoma,” said Seymour’s Keith Ivy, the head coach for West Texas.

East Texas coach Brian Polk (Byron Nelson) agreed the Oil Bowl should still be exciting, even if there isn’t a built-in rivalry.

“Great players are great because they’re competitive,” Polk said. “I think when the lights come on, they’re going to get after it.”

Both teams will be starting Midwestern State signees at quarterback.

The East will rotate between Cleburne’s Quade Coward (MSU) and Coppell’s Colby Mahon (Southern Arkansas) each series.

Coward threw for 3,067 yards and 32 touchdowns his senior season, while Mahon had 1,615 yards and 22 scores with only one INT.

“They can both throw the football. I’d love to have either one of them on my football team,” Polk said. “They’ve got great leadership qualities, and they’re both going to make plays for us.”

The West Texas quarterbacks come from smaller schools, but both Stamford’s Hagen Hutchinson and Munday’s Dee Paul are familiar with finding the end zone.

Ivy said Hutchinson will start as the team’s signal-caller. Paul will take snaps at QB and also will line up at tailback, wideout and slot receiver.

West Texas will run the ball more than it will pass it, operating the same spread offense Munday used during its 2012 title run. That will put more emphasis on a group up front that includes 300-pounders Khalil Reese, Dalyn Bearden and Bryan Manley.

“Our offensive line as a whole has looked really good. I expect them to have a good game,” Ivy said. “Any time in an all-star game, you can’t make a lot of mistakes and come out on top. You can’t turn the ball over. Penalties will kill you.”

Twenty area athletes will have one last chance to represent their schools. All but five will dress out for West Texas, which will be the home team and wear white.

Rider is the only school that has former teammates on different sidelines — Brodey West and Fred Williams on the West and D.J. Arnold and Brandon Williams on the East.

OIL BOWL NOTES

The Times Record News was inducted into the Oil Bowl Hall of Fame on Thursday night, along with other media outlets in Wichita Falls. The TRN is the only media outlet that has been around long enough to cover the all-star game for the entirety of its existence.

The first seven Oil Bowls were all-Texas formats, but only the first two in 1939-40 featured East Texas against West Texas. The game was Texas-Oklahoma every year since 1945 except for 1961.

Both head coaches were asked who had impressed in this week’s practices:

EAST TEXAS

Jabari Anderson, Wylie East — Heading to Tarleton State, Anderson rushed for 2,298 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2012, earning first-team 4A TSWA all-state honors.

Coach Brian Polk: “He’ll get the load back there, and he’s quick. He can get after it, and I don’t know if he ever gets tired.”

Justin Lawler, Pottsboro — The SMU signee had 113 tackles and 13 sacks his senior year at the 2A level.

Coach Brian Polk: “He’s a kid that they’re going to have some problems with, I think. He gets after it pretty well.”

WEST TEXAS

Josh Woods, Amarillo — Woods had 128 yards and a TD in his last game at Memorial, a 26-17 loss to Rider. He finished 2012 with 1,546 yards and 18 scores.

Coach Keith Ivy: “He’s a great kid who works hard and is very athletic. We haven’t seen him live yet, but he’s got great feet and vision.”

Thomas Loving, Springtown — One of two Central Arkansas signees on the West Texas team, the defensive end is 6-5 and 255 pounds.

Coach Keith Ivy: “He’s a specimen. He looks the part, and he plays the part. If he plays the way he’s practiced this week, they’re going to have problems with this kid.”