By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It sounds like a recipe for disaster. A backup quarterback who hasn’t played the position in two years, coupled with an already short week of practice against a team that has allowed more than 30 points just twice this season.
But that’s the situation the Stillwater High School football team finds itself in as the prepare for a rare Thursday game at Bartlesville.
“I don’t know who’s around feeling sorry for us,” Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said. “It difficult for sure, but it’s the situation we’re in. We’ll do our best. We’ve got some competitive kids that want to help us get this done.”
Now with junior quarterback Braxton Noble likely sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury, all eyes will turn to Jon Littell — a senior who played his first game in a year two weeks into the season and took his first snap of the season last week against Booker T. Washington.
“I think I’m going to have some butterflies just from it being (like) a Friday night, like I always do,” Littell said. “It’s not much different. Obviously, I’m the one out in charge there on the offensive side of the ball. It’s something I look forward to and I take it as a privilege. I’m just going to do everything I can to lead this team to a win Thursday.”
Littell may be a little greener as a quarterback than Barnard would like heading into Thursday’s game, but that doesn’t mean Stillwater (1-5, 1-3 in district) is just going to run the ball 50 times and take the loss.
“Jon is a different kid and different kind of quarterback than Braxton, but he can throw a football and he’s a great athlete,” Barnard said. “We hope to be able to find some things that we can take advantage of in Bartlesville’s defense and try to put some points on the board.
“I don’t think Jon puts us in a situation where we can’t throw at all. ... We’re doing less things now than what we were doing with Braxton, but that might be OK. It might be good for us to simplify a little bit and get back to some basics.”
That’s been the mantra of the Pioneers this week in practice — getting back to the basics. From the hours watching extra film, to just working on the timing of routes and developing the run game, there’s almost been a sense of rededication in the locker room.
“It’s not just me and not just the offense, we’ve all been watching extra film this week,” Littell said. “Knowing that it’s a short week, we have to get ready. It’s a really good Bartlesville team playing at their house. We got a tough duty, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Going into hostile territory for his first career start at quarterback may not have been a dream situation for Littell, but that’s the funny thing about desperation. Sometimes it can have surprising results.
“We’re not sitting here crying in our Post Toasties,” Barnard said. “We’re preparing to win a football game. It’s never easy. No wins are easy very often, but we feel real good. We’ve got a lot of weapons on the football field. We just have to put some things together and cut out some mistakes and get going.”
And while it looked like the loss of Noble may be the final cherry on top of a struggling and disappointing season one fact still remains. Stillwater still has four games to make a playoff push.
But if that’s going to happen, Barnard said it needs to start this week with a huge win against Bartlesville.
“We’re both 1-2 in the district,” Barnard said. “They probably feel a little better about themselves because of their overall record compared to ours. In terms of the playoff picture, we’re in the same spot. We feel like we’re going to treat every win like a must win from here all the way. It doesn’t matter how many wins we have between now and the end, we’re going to play every game from here on out like it’s a must win. We’re not ready to check it in for certain. We have a lot of football left to be played and we need to go play it as well as we can.”