By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When Tucker Barnard first came to Stillwater, it was all about putting up big numbers through the air. His quarterback? A kid with the last name of Littell.
Things are a little bit different this season. No longer are the Pioneers in the midst of a district title hunt. That dream died several weeks ago.
These days, Stillwater is still putting up big numbers — amassing 478 yards of offense Friday in the 43-27 win over Enid. But it’s how they’re doing it that’s different.
Stillwater is still led by a guy named Littell. But unlike his older brother Jerame — who holds most of the Stillwater passing records — Jon Littell’s offense is based more on running the ball first and passing second.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Littell said. “The backs that we’ve got and the offensive line has been working so hard. To get guys in the end zone like that was big. That’s all on the offensive line. They worked their tails off all night, as did the receivers on the outside, getting some blocks and just sparking some big runs.”
Big runs — like the two 50-plus-yard runs King Williams has had the last two weeks — have been a big part of Stillwater’s offense the past two weeks and a reason Stillwater still has a glimmer of hope left heading into the final regular season game against Owasso.
But for Barnard, the newly developed running game is nothing he hasn’t seen before out of his players.
“We got some talent guys,” Barnard said. “I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think we would be able to run the ball that successfully and probably not to that level. I think it was about our attitude, I think it was about our intensity and I think it was just about the way we approached the game for a couple of weeks now.”
Stillwater certainly showed that intensity Friday against a bigger and more physical defensive line. Sure, the Plainsmen were without one of their key lineman — and perhaps that’s why Barnard opted to rely so heavily on the run game.
Or perhaps he knew Enid would have trouble slowing down the big bodies of Littell and Cameron Mayberry.
“It was a total team effort out there,” Littell said. “The line made some huge holes for our backs to run through.”
And while Barnard won’t say whether or not he’ll stick to the ground game against Owasso Friday, he’s certainly not adverse to running it against the Rams. Just look at last year where he opted to run the Wildcat throughout much of the game.
For Littell, the senior is just happy to know that he’s found a way out of his brother’s shadow — even if the public address announcer occasionally mixes up the two.
“That was definitely not me,” Jerame Littell said with a laugh. “He looked a lot faster out there than I ever did.”