By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The 2005 season was a year of transition for the Morrison Wildcats’ football program. After leading Morrison to a state runners-up finish in 2004, then-coach Joe Sindelar resigned and defensive coordinator Cory Bales took the reins as head coach.
“It was a different situation,” Bales said. “I wasn’t new coming in.”
While the Wildcats knew Bales, they weren’t familiar with his system — the Wing T offense.
“His offense was different, kind of old school,” said Garrett Childress, who was the starting quarterback.
In the beginning of the season it showed. After the Wildcats cruised to a 54-18 season-opening victory over Buffalo, they lost their next two games at Pioneer-Pleasant Vale and Christian Heritage.
“There were some growing pains adjusting to the new packages,” said Lance Barrick, a senior running back. “We took it all in stride.”
Sitting at 1-2, Morrison got help from an old friend — former coach and then superintendent Dennis Casey. Bales played under Casey, who led Morrison to seven-straight championships from 1988-1994 and a 90-game winning streak. It was safe to say Casey was familiar with what Bales was doing.
“Bales grew up in my coaching style and philosophy,” Casey said. “I just worked with him and we looked at the strengths and how we can make things better.”
Childress said Casey was key in helping the team turn things around.
“He just helped us understand the system,” Childress said. “Our offense was stagnant and it was my first year playing quarterback. We became a well-oiled machine.”
The Wildcats wouldn’t suffer another blemish. The next week, they beat Cashion 30-14. After that, Morrison continued to click on all cylinders scoring at least 41 points in its last six games.
“We started to block and block well,” Bales said. “Obviously, that was the mold of our team. We ran the ball well, got clicking and they bought in to what we were trying to do.”
In the playoffs, no one had an answer for the Wildcats. Lance Barrick ran for 101 yards and scored two touchdowns while Childress ran for a touchdown and returned two interceptions for scores in a 44-16 first round victory over Tipton. The defense was also dominate only giving up 34 yards.
In the second round against Gans, Barrick turned in another 100-yard rushing performance with 111 and scored three touchdowns. Childress ran for one and threw for two in a 52-22 victory.
Morrison had its toughest test of the playoffs when it faced an undefeated Foyil in the Class B state semifinals. Barrick scored three touchdowns and the Wildcats dismantled Foyil 28-6. Childress, Barrick and Ricky Holba combined for 309 rushing yards to send Morrison to the Class B state championship for the third straight season.
In the 2005 state championship, Morrison was looking to avenge its Week 2 loss to Pioneer-Pleasant Vale. Thanks to a dominating performance by the defense, that’s exactly what it did.
The Wildcats held Pioneer to 94 yards of offense while intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble. Offensively, Childress gave Morrison the points it needed with two touchdown runs and a pass. At the end of the day in Ponca City, the Wildcats were hoisting the state championship trophy after a 20-0 victory.
“It was awesome and really a lot of fun,” Bales said. “It was a good win for us and we played great defense that day.”
Barrick said it was amazing that the team was able to win in Bales’ first season.
“We had great athletes at the time,” Barrick said. “We had a good coaching staff pulling out everything from us.”
The senior fullback thrived in Bales’ system and earned All-State honors after the season.
“Bales and I had a close relationship,” Barrick said. “I came back to coach with him. He knew what my strengths were as an athlete and brought the best of out of me. He’s done it with other athletes.”
Barrick went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University with an education and taught and coached at Morrison for a couple of years before moving on to another position.
That championship was only the beginning as the Wildcats won the next two Class B championships and won a Class A state championship.
“The freshman (from the 2005 team) won every year after that,” Childress said. “It showed we were still hungry. It mean a lot to win it and start that streak. All the fans and the community were behind us.”
Childress went on to play college baseball for at Northeastern Oklahoma College in Enid and then graduated from OSU. The former quarterback now works for Helena Chemical.