Zach Duncan, Times Record News
Texans don’t like to lose to their northern neighbors, regardless of season or sport.
When Oklahoma pulled out a 24-21 victory in last year’s Oil Bowl, it halted the Lone Star State’s bid for a fourth consecutive win in the all-star contest.
Texas, which leads the series 40-17-1, brings another star-studded roster to tonight’s 67th Oil Bowl, boasting 25 Division I players. But Texas offensive coordinator Bill Green knows his squad can’t win on reputation alone.
“We hear them crying because they don’t have as good of players, but in a game like this, if you buy into too much of that you start believing it and won’t be ready to play,” Green said. “We’re going into the game like it’s an even ballgame — you have to.”
Regardless of who has an advantage, Texas and Oklahoma will produce a winner when kickoff begins at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Leading the way for Texas will be Ennis quarterback Graham Harrell. The Texas Tech signee was named the state’s Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row, passing for 3,647 yards and 54 touchdowns as a senior.
“Anybody that throws 50-some-odd touchdown passes in one year — that’s a phenomenon,” Oklahoma coach Charles Lynch (Comanche) said. “You put all our quarterbacks together, and I don’t think they threw 50 touchdown passes the whole year.”
Other Texas signal-callers will be Kennedale’s Bryan Barrett and Childress’ Matthew Manley, with all three running the team’s three- and four receiver sets.
“We thought it was one of the simpler offenses to put together in such a short time,” said Green, who coached Windthorst to the Class A title in 2003. “A lot of these kids, it’s the type of offense that they played in.”
Harrell and company will have a plethora of wide-outs to throw to in Wichita Falls High School’s Tommy Henderson, Jon Bullock (Wylie), Darcel McBath (Gainesville), Jordan Reagan (Carrollton Newman Smith) and Colin Bado (McKinney North).
Harrell will also be handing off to a future Tech teammate in Shannon Woods (McKinney North) while former Hirschi tailback Chris Barry (Temple) will also get plenty of carries in the one-back offense.
Oklahoma will counter on offense with its spread formation led by quarterbacks Jake Spavital (Tulsa Union) and Robby Treadwell (Mustang). Lynch said both gunslingers will get equal playing time, with Lynch going with the hot hand in the fourth.
“We couldn’t line up and run the ball down their throats, so we’ll have to throw the ball around to be able to score offensively,” Lynch said. “We have some kids that we feel like can execute (the spread), and hopefully we can move the ball down the field on them.”
Tulsa signee Roy Roberts and Chris Jones (Edmond North) will be carrying the ball for Oklahoma.
“We’re satisfied that we have a team that can come down and be representative of our state,” Lynch said. “We still feel like we have an excellent chance of being competitive. And that’s what we want to be.”
Besides Manley and Henderson, three other local kids will suit up for the Texas side. Electra’s Brandon Monroe, Holliday’s Joe Mike Fouts and Windthorst’s Chad Green will be representing their state on the defensive side tonight.
“We’re going to try to play good, sound football and get everybody into the ballgame,” Bill Green said. “Hopefully, we’ll pull out a win.”
Staff sports writer Zach Duncan can be reached weekdays after 4 p.m. by calling 720-3470 or 1-800-627-1646. Or e-mail him at duncanz(at)timesrecordnews.com.