ANADARKO — R.J. Sink had never been the feature running back.
Even when Anadarko graduated 17 starters from last year's Class 3A state champion team, Sink wasn't at running back to start the season.
Three games into the season, though, he took over, posting impressive numbers while leading the revamped Warriors to the Class 4A semifinals on Friday against defending champion Wagoner.
“R.J. gives us a chance to hit home runs and ever since he's been in there that's what he's done,” Anadarko coach Kent Jackson said.
After losing Sheldon Wilson — The Oklahoman's Offensive Player of the Year last year — among others, many wondered how Anadarko would fare this season in the move to Class 4A.
So far, so good, even after early changes at skill positions.
The season opened with Sink at wide receiver, Galen Satoe at quarterback and Traymayne Wauahdooah at running back. Three games later, though, Jackson made changes, moving Sink to running back after Wauahdooah hurt his knee and moving sophomore Brandon Pollard off the bench to quarterback.
Sink and Pollard have since benefitted from an all-senior offensive line.
“The line, I don't know how they do it, but they just open it up, they go to their spots and they know everything,” Sink said. “After you get past the line, you turn into a running back and you got to do what you got to do to get to the next level and go score.”
Sink, a junior, has 1,381 yards and 27 touchdowns on 171 carries through 10 games. He also broke Wilson's school record of touchdowns in one game when he scored seven times in a 56-7 win against Elk City on Sept. 28.
“It was probably one of my better games,” he said. “I felt free out there just running around and getting blocks and everything; just running everywhere and making stuff happen, just out there having fun.”
Sink scored five touchdowns in last week's win over Fort Gibson, setting up a matchup of retooled defending champions.
It also pits the state's leading rusher Lawrence Evitt, also a junior, against Sink.
“He is good, I'm not going to lie,” Sink said. “I've seen him run a little bit. He's got some good speed on him.
“I just want to go out there and get a win, so I'm not really competing with him. I just want to go out there and do my job and run like I know how to run.”
Evitt coming up big for Wagoner
Anadarko’s R.J. Sink isn’t the only player in Friday’s game between Wagoner and Anadarko who came into the season with the tough task of filling big shoes.
While Sink replaced last season’s Oklahoman All-State Offensive Player of the Year Sheldon Wilson, Wagoner’s Lawrence Evitt has taken over for versatile star Kevin Peterson.
Peterson rushed for 1,325 yards and 21 touchdowns in his senior season, and he is now seeing playing time as a true freshman cornerback at Oklahoma State.
Going into the Class 4A semifinal game at Langston, Evitt has bettered Peterson’s numbers by plenty. He has 2,378 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing and another three receiving. He’s averaging more than 12 yards per carry.
“Evitt’s got speed and that’s what scares me,” Anadarko coach Kent Jackson said. “I’m just worried about this guy getting loose and we’re not going to catch him. That guy the other night (Fort Gibson’s Jake Gandara) got loose a couple of times, but we could catch him.”
BY RYAN ABER