STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Morrison Wildcats entered the 2006 season not only looking to defend their Class B state football championship, but to extend their winning streak of 11 games. That’s something they were going to have to do with a new quarterback and running back after Garrett Childress and Lance Barrick graduated.
“We looked up to them for everything,” said Ricky Holba, who was a junior starting running back. “We lost two games that year. We were a little concerned that we weren’t going to get back to state.”
Coach Cory Bales made sure 2006 wasn’t going to be a let down season. A tough summer offseason would yield another state championship.
“We didn’t want to take runners-up,” said senior offensive lineman and defensive lineman Will Childress. “Our whole team had summer jobs. We would come in the morning and lift then come back at night for conditioning. If we were going to play, we had to be in the best condition.”
Replacing Garrett Childress at quarterback was sophomore Shawn Walls, who took a few snaps the previous season at quarterback. Walls said he had big shoes to fill with Garrett Childress winning a state championship but added he was ready for it.
“I was still greedy enough,” Walls said. “I took that challenge on not knowing what the result was going to be. The pressure was on but I took it as a challenge. I looked up to Beau Shiever, who won in 2003.”
The Wildcats didn’t skip a beat with a new backfield as they breezed through the competition. Morrison scored 40 or more points in all 10 games. Offensively, Holba and Walls led the offensive attack as opponents couldn’t stop the running game.
“We wanted to come out and control the game by running and stopping the run,” Holba said. “That’s why we usually won because we could run the ball. I don’t think there was anyone that could challenge us stopping the run or running against us.”
Defensively, the Wildcats were impenetrable. Only three teams scored more than 20 points. Will Childress said Morrison’s success on the field revolved around the defense.
“We had a great defensive line and linebackers,” Childress said. “Our secondary was pretty fast. Our defense revolved around the linebackers.”
Morrison rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Holba rushed for 172 yards and scored five touchdowns. He also caught three receptions for 73 yards with a touchdown. in a 68-18 victory over Allen. In the quarterfinals, Holba rushed for 344 yards and scored two touchdowns. Walls rushed for 57 yards and scored a touchdown in a 40-18 victory over Burns Flat-Dill City. The state semifinals was a different story.
Pond-Creek Hunter was definitely prepared for the Wildcats running attack. Morrison trailed at halftime but came back and took a 28-22 lead late. Pond-Creek Hunter returned the ensuing kickoff to tie the game at 28. The Wildcats blocked the initial extra point but were called for roughing the kicker. Pond-Creek Hunter made the next extra point to take a one point lead with more than a minute left.
“Their coach was able to put us in uncomfortable situations all game,” Walls said.
The Wildcats were able to drive down field thanks to a 34-yard pass to Holba. With eight seconds left, Holba made a one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone to put Morrison on top.
“We had thought we lost,” Holba said. “The last drive was a miracle. We were able to get deep passes. I was able to catch the game-winning touchdown with eight seconds left.”
The state championship wouldn’t have much drama for Morrison as it didn’t need to throw a pass. The Wildcats ran for 465 yards. Holba rushed for 202 and three touchdowns. Walls rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns. The Wildcats coasted to a 56-14 over Davenport. Will Childress said they made a statement in that game.
“There was talk about them just needing to get it to the fourth quarter,” Childress said. “We may not have played all four quarters during the season. Bales had us conditioned to play four quarters.”
Many expected that title game to between Morrison and Cashion. Davenport knocked Cashion off. Holba said he wished they would have had the chance to play Cashion and prove people wrong.
“Everyone thought Cashion could knock us off,” Holba said. “Cashion could never get to us. Beating Davenport was great but I would have loved the chance to beat Cashion.”
The state championship victory extended the Wildcats winning streak to 26 games and was their fourth consecutive appearance in the state championship game.