Fail­ure is not an op­tion

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - Adam Kemp akemp@ ok­la­homan.com

Of­ten un­der­sized and out­num­bered, the Ok­la­homa Chris­tian School Saints are de­ter­mined to per­se­vere in the Class 3A play­offs.

On most plays, Nate Brooks ei­ther gets pushed around or a pat on the back.

Stand­ing at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Brooks doesn’t look like your typ­i­cal nose tackle for a Class 3A foot­ball con­tender.

But he, as well as sev­eral other mem­bers of Ok­la­homa Chris­tian School’s foot­ball team, see it dif­fer­ent.

They fill a role re­gard­less of size or the pos­si­bil­ity of fail­ure. Brooks doesn’t al­ways come away with the high­light sack or a bone-crush­ing tackle on a run­ning back, but he makes a dif­fer­ence

“I don’t al­ways get tack­les, but I’m there to mess things up for the of­fense,” Brooks says of his play­ing style. “At the end of this day, I just re­mem­ber that I don’t play this for me. I play for the guys around me and for my school.”

As the level of competition and in­ten­sity is ratch­eted up this week for round 2 of the Ok­la­homa high school foot­ball play­offs, OCS coach Derek Turner said he likes to take a minute to re­mind his guys how far they’ve come.

Be­ing a pri­vate school, Turner says they work with a smaller ros­ter than a lot of the other schools in Class 3A. While some have nearly 50 kids on their team not in­clud­ing fresh­men, OCS cur­rently has a lit­tle more than 40 play­ers, in­clud­ing fresh­men.

Be­cause of those lim­i­ta­tions, Turner said he and his coach­ing staff have man­aged to fig­ure out who they can plug and play.

“The kids have bought into the fact that they have to be very good pre­ci­sion-wise to maybe make up for be­ing smaller or play­ing out of po­si­tion,” Turner said. “They need to ex­e­cute a lot things and play a lot of dif­fer­ent po­si­tions be­cause we don’t have the lux­ury of ex­tra big guys.”

The re­sults are hard to ar­gue with.

Led by a se­nior class of 14 play­ers, OCS won Dis­trict 3A-1 af­ter a 8-2 reg­u­lar sea­son. The Saints fol­lowed that up with a dom­i­nat­ing first round vic­tory against Lit­tle Axe, win­ning 66-8.

Turner can point out about a dozen guys on his team who wouldn't be con­sid­ered the pro­to­typ­i­cal build for the po­si­tion they play. But then he fol­lows that up with why they are per­fect to play the po­si­tion they do.

“A lot of this is about not be­ing afraid to fail,” Turner said. “Th­ese guys took a chance and trusted us when we told them where we wanted to play them. Some kids wouldn't have han­dled it well, but our guys re­ally took it and ran with it.”

Sean McBride is an­other starter who's learned to hold his own against big­ger competition. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 190, McBride has be­come a sta­ple on the OCS of­fen­sive line and was named a team cap­tain by his team­mates.

“I feel teeny com­pared to some of the mas­sive guys I go up against,” McBride said. “But I have good tech­nique, and a lot of it is in­ten­sity. We show up and give it all every time.

“Know­ing this could be our last game to­gether, that raises your in­ten­sity even more.”

Sean McBride

Derek Turner

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