Spotlight on: Jenks Trojans
Hometown: Jenks, Oklahoma
Group: OK Class 6A
By Omar Muhammad
The Jenks Trojans define success on the gridiron in Oklahoma. The Tulsa-area squad has dominated the Class 6A competition for decades and has accumulated a dozen state titles since 1976.
But while the Trojans are renowned for their victories and state championships, they may be better known for their bitter rivalry game each year with the Union Redskins dubbed the “Backyard Bowl Game.”
The Jenks-Union rivalry goes back to 1949 thanks to both schools being only 10 miles apart. Says Barry Lewis, prep sports writer at the Tulsa World, one has to factor in the friends, family and teachers that have embraced the feud as well.
Meanwhile, both teams are in the same conference in every sport except for football. And while in football they may not be in the same district, the two rivals are still in the same classification.
Seeing that these two 6A football teams have combined for the last 12 state titles in Oklahoma also fuels the rivalry. And it probably helps that the competition has featured many incredible finishes, including a nail-biter on September 12 when Jenks rallied from 14 points down in the 4th quarter to send the game into overtime, only before Union clinched it, 24-17, in the extra session.
In that contest, Union held a 17-3 lead heading to the fourth quarter before a quick pair of touchdown passes from Beau Marsaln to Tramaine Thompson helped the Trojans tie the score and send the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Union received the ball first and went to tailback Jeremy Smith, who scored on a one-yard run to give the Redskins a 24-17 lead. Then, Jenks moved the ball inside the five-yard line during its overtime possession, but on a fourth and goal, Marsaln was sacked to end the game.
While the Trojans certainly wanted the victory for bragging rights and pride, perhaps the team shouldn’t look into the loss too much. Historically, according to Lewis, the loser of the regular season rivalry game in four of the last five years has actually gone on to win the state title.
All the while, the Backyard Bowl game spreads through the locals with their spirit and traditions.
The contest is easily the most highly anticipated by Tulsa-area fans all season long. One perfect example of that is the 20,000 plus supporters that annually attend the contest. The game has the atmosphere of a college bowl game, complete with a trophy, and due to its popularity, is now played at Chapman Stadium on the campus of the University of Tulsa.
Being the two best teams in Oklahoma, and being the biggest rivalry in the state, these teams have compiled some great stories for the history books.
In both 2000 and 2005, Union scored last-minute touchdowns to take the lead, only to have Jenks score in the last seconds on a long passes to win the game.
Then in ‘07, Jenks scored with 90 seconds left to take the lead, only to see Union score with 17 seconds remaining and then go on to win in overtime.
But perhaps the biggest high scoring affair came in ‘97, when Union beat Jenks 55-45 in a back and forth shootout.
It’s easy to see why the Jenks football program has opened up the eyes of many national and local fans. From the numerous accolades, to the traditions passed down and to the one of a kind rivalry with Union that has produced incredible finishes and achievements, the Trojans also define what high school football is all about.
Next up: Friday, September 26 at Claremore (State PR: 82.00, Rank: 7).