Just chalk it up as a special night for Heritage Hall.
A special event, with Senior Night being televised on ESPNU. A special invitation to the Under Armour All-America game for receiver Sterling Shepard. Special performances by Shepard, Barry J. Sanders and others in the national spotlight.
The result was a 55-10 defeat of Bethany at Pop Murray Field on Friday night, signaling to the rest of Class 3A that the Chargers are more than ready for a run at another state championship.
The bright lights of ESPN — the TV network literally brought in brighter lights for the broadcast — didn't phase Heritage Hall's veteran team, some of whom have been a part of more than 50 varsity games during their careers.
“We've been on TV and had a lot of media come around before,” said Shepard, who had three touchdown catches and a TD run. “Coach (Andy Bogert) told us before the game to not worry about the cameras and just play our game. That's what we did.”
The win sets up a meeting at Kingfisher — a rematch of last year's 3A state title game — next week with the district championship going to the winner.
Quarterback Quinn Shanbour threw for six touchdowns Friday, completing 12 of 15 passes for 293 yards. He hit Cale Courtney for a 41-yard touchdown on the first snap of the game and connected with Sanders for a 77-yard score moments later.
“When we jump teams early, we take them out of their game plan,” Bogert said. “And we took them out of theirs pretty quickly.
“This is the most experienced team I've ever had, and that helps. We try to keep them loose and relaxed, and they do a good job with that. They were not star-struck tonight. They played well.”
Sanders and Shepard provided the highlight plays ESPN desired from the two nationally known recruits, including a couple of TD grabs by Shepard in triple-coverage. He finished with four catches for 97 yards and three rushes for 55 yards.
Sanders added 106 rushing yards on 11 carries, along with four receptions for 114 yards.
“Those guys don't surprise me anymore,” Bogert said. “We knew Bethany would try to take them away, so early on, we threw to Cale Courtney and he scored. To have those options is great. That's the way I've always coached — get the ball to your playmakers and let them do their stuff.”
Shepard, who has committed to Oklahoma, received his invitation to the Under Armor All-America game Friday night. Sanders had already been selected for the U.S. Army All-America Bowl on Jan. 7, where he will announce his college decision.
The Under Armour game will be held Jan. 5 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Of course, Shepard has other business on his mind before that.
“We still have room for improvement and we're gonna bring it,” he said. “We're not looking for anything to come to us for free, and we're gonna keep working hard to get to the state championship again.”