EDMOND — It takes a heck of a defensive performance to overshadow a quarterback who tosses five touchdown passes to five different receivers, but that is the kind of game Deer Creek linebacker Austin Loomis had Thursday night in the Antlers' 45- 14 win over Edmond Memorial.
Loomis, the middle linebacker for the unbeaten Antlers, is The Oklahoman's Player of the Week after making 30 tackles against the Bulldogs.
“It was one of the best games I've seen at linebacker in a long time,” said Deer Creek coach Grant Gower. “It was pretty impressive. He was truly sideline to sideline all night.”
Loomis (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) recorded 18 solo tackles, seven assisted tackles, four tackles for loss and had one quarterback sack.
While most of the attention immediately after the game was on Deer Creek quarterback Joel Blumenthal's five touchdown passes, it wasn't until Friday while watching game video that Antlers coaches learned just how great Loomis had played on Thursday night.
Defensive coordinator Ryan Laverty was compiling the statistics from the video, and Loomis' numbers just kept rising, Gower said.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “We knew he was playing extremely well (Thursday night), but obviously you don't have any idea until you go through the video and count it up. We knew live it was pretty good, but it was even better on video.”
It even surprised Loomis how many tackles he had made.
“They ran the ball a lot more then they passed it,” Loomis said of Edmond Memorial. “I knew it was a lot, but I had no idea it was 30. I was figuring about 15 or 20.”
Gower couldn't recall ever having a Deer Creek player with 30 tackles in a single game before. Loomis credited his teammates for his big statistical night.
“I got to give it up to my defensive line and the defensive ends,” he said. “They are the ones that hold up the (offensive) linemen for me so I can get good reads.
“They take on the double teams and split the double teams so the linebackers can get good reads and fill holes. Without them, I would pretty much be getting blown up every play.”
Loomis was the only one of the Antlers' three regular inside linebackers to play Thursday night. The other two were sidelined with injuries.
“Austin really stepped up,” Gower said.
Loomis, a senior, is the brains on both sides of the ball for Deer Creek.
A three-year starter on both offense and defense, Loomis is responsible for making the defensive calls as middle linebacker. As the starting center, he also communicates the pass protection assignments on the field to his fellow offensive linemen.
They kept Blumenthal's jersey clean against Edmond Memorial so he could throw for 248 yards and five touchdowns.
“He doesn't leave the field a whole lot,” Gower said of Loomis. “A big asset of his is his intelligence. He really understands things well. What he brings to the table on both sides of the ball is pretty invaluable for us.”
Loomis is so smart that he is considering playing football in the Ivy League. Loomis has a grade-point average of 4.03 and scored a 29 on his ACT. He visited Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown earlier this year.
But he also made a recruiting visit last weekend to Tulsa and earlier this year to Indiana. He has official visits scheduled later this year to Kansas State and New Mexico, which also is heavily recruiting Blumenthal.
Gower said New Mexico has shown interest in several Deer Creek players.
“That would be one of my dreams to play college football with one of my high school friends,” Loomis said. “Me and Joel talk about it all the time. That would be really sweet.”
This week, Deer Creek opens district play by meeting perennial 5A power Carl Albert on Friday night in The Oklahoman's No. 1-ranked Game of the Week. Loomis said it is critical test for the unbeaten Antlers.
“This is one of the games that we always circle on our calendars,” Loomis said. “Carl Albert is a really tough, physical team. They will run the ball right at you. No doubt, they are one of the top teams in 5A. There is a reason why they have won eight state championships.
“For us to beat them, it would show that Deer Creek is for real this year and we are not just a fluke. We really want to make a statement. We are looking to match them blow for blow.”