Deer Creek junior Jared Rayburn started on defense at cornerback last season. This year, he's playing offense, too.
And if Friday's Top of the World Classic scrimmage against McAlester is any indication, Rayburn is on the path to stardom.
Rayburn (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Joel Blumenthal during the Antlers' 21-21 tie with McAlester in a half-game.
“He's my best friend; I know him better than anybody,” Blumenthal said. “This is his time; his time to show what he can do.”
Rayburn showed plenty on the Antlers' last offensive drive. Trailing 21-14, Blumenthal started to scramble at about Deer Creek's 40-yard line. He was trying to direct Rayburn to go upfield, but Rayburn saw Buffaloes' defensive lineman Jesse Lane (6-3, 225) coming, and made a bone-crushing crack block that left Lane wobbling off the field.
“I gotta take care of my quarterback,” Rayburn said. “He's the one that delivers me the ball, so I've gotta protect him.
“He was scrambling, and he wanted me to go up field. But I was like, ‘No, I got you.'”
Then, on fourth down later in the drive, Blumenthal scrambled out of the pocket and found Rayburn deep downfield for about a 50-yard reception. Rayburn later caught the tying TD pass from Blumenthal; the scrimmage ended in a 21-21 tie.
SOPHOMORE HITS BIG KICK FOR NORMAN
As sophomore kicker Matt Hockett lined up for a 38-yard, potential game-winning field goal in the final seconds of Norman's scrimmage against Stillwater, Tigers coaches were still wondering if the officials were going to give the Pioneers a live rush at the kick.
They did, as was specified in the rules, and Hockett's kick sailed through the uprights to give Norman a 24-21 win.
“The kid's got ice water in his veins,” Norman coach Greg Nation said. “He's going to do a lot of good things for us this year. It was good to get him in a situation like that.”
Norman opens its season against Norman North on Thursday at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium.
NORMAN'S LONG KNOCKED OUT
Norman quarterback Zach Long missed much of the Tigers' scrimmage after taking a big hit early in the session against Stillwater.
“He took a lick but he'll be OK,” Nation said.
Long, a junior and son of former OU offensive coordinator Chuck Long, threw for nearly 900 yards last season.
BARNARD TELLS TEAM NOT TO ACCEPT CLOSE LOSS
Stillwater (1-9 last season) lost on a last-second field goal to Norman in a half game at the Top of the World Classic on Friday.
But new Pioneers coach Tucker Barnard isn't going to accept that and isn't allowing his team to pat itself on the back.
“We're not going to accept the ‘almost,' the things we almost did,” Barnard said. “If we want to be a championship football team, we have to be able to finish, and we didn't finish tonight. I'm not going to let them allow themselves to be happy with, ‘We almost did it; we played them tough.' It's awesome, and it's a step, but it wasn't good enough.”
MUSTANG'S TAYLOR HAS BRUISED SHOULDER
Mustang quarterback Brandon Taylor says he has a shoulder contusion and he “should be ready” for next week's season opener vs. Yukon.
Taylor suffered the injury to his left (throwing) shoulder in Thursday night's scrimmage against El Reno at the Mustang Pigskin Preview. It was feared that he might have broken his collarbone, but X-rays Friday morning came back clean.
Taylor, one of the top quarterback prospects in the state, threw for more than 3,300 yards and 36 touchdowns last year. The Broncos host Yukon Friday.
JOHN MARSHALL'S TROXELL EXCITED ABOUT YOUTH
Though they're returning starters at some key positions, the John Marshall Bears are still a young team, so coach Bruce Troxell went into the All-City Preview just hoping to see his team grow up.
“I was watching to see that we were lining up right and things like that,” Troxell said. “We're young in a lot of places, so we just need to get better every day. Monday is another day, so we'll see if we get better there.”