JENKS — There's a clear distinction between life and football for Jenks lineman Brandon Waggoner.
Life is where he had to watch his mother fight brain cancer for a year before her eventual death in August 2011.
“Having overcome the things he's overcome, football's no big deal, as far as stress. It's more of a release for him,” Jenks coach Allan Trimble said. “Brandon was the ornery one of the bunch on that offensive line. We liked his attitude, because he was such a gritty kid.
“We think that comes from him going through a lot with his mother's illness and eventual passing. He's had to overcome a lot of things.”
On the football field, Waggoner, 6-foot-1, 270 pounds, is one of the toughest linemen you'll come across. An Oklahoman All-State selection as an offensive lineman, Waggoner helped open holes for running back Trey'Vonne Barr'e, the all-time leading rusher in Jenks history.
But his mental understanding of the game was as valuable as his physical toughness, especially in the state championship game.
“Norman North brought some different blitzes that we weren't used to with (Oklahoman All-State linebacker) Jordan Evans,” Trimble said. “Brandon was able to help us get into a different protection where our running back didn't have to block him all the time, because that's not a good deal for us.”
Central Oklahoma and Central Arkansas are Waggoner's two scholarship offers, while programs like Memphis and Pittsburg State continue to show interest.
Whoever lands him will be getting a winner, and a throwback player, Trimble said.
Winning the state title meant a lot to Waggoner, who had been paying close attention to Trojan football since the fifth grade.
“It was an unreal feeling, one of the best feelings I've ever felt so far,” he said. “My first year at Jenks in fifth grade was the year Jenks came back in the Backyard Bowl with a last-second touchdown. It was exciting. I didn't understand it as much as I do now, but I did pay attention.”
Football is just part of the world you grow up in at Jenks, a fact Waggoner always keeps in the front of his mind when he sees young kids lining the fence to watch the team.
“All the little kids know your name, and they're high-fiving you,” he said. “They get into it. They're just as rowdy as the high school students.
“You're like a role model, so you've got to play smart, show them how it's done and keep the legacy going for them.”