Keep An Eye On Two Kingfisher Juniors

The Oklahoma Class 3A state championship game was billed as a showdown of premier running backs. Blanchard's Braden Stringer had rushed for 2,880 yards and 41 touchdowns entering Thursday night's game at Boone Pickens Stadium and Kingfisher's Landon Nault running through the competition for 2,266 yards and 45 touchdowns. In the end it was a sophomore running back that upstaged them both.

From a recruiting standpoint, the sophomore and a pair of two-way juniors look like they might be enticing Division I coaches to make a stop this spring and next fall in Kingfisher. It all added up to a 30-23 Kingfisher win to earn the Class 3A state championship.

Stringer is 5-10, 180 pounds and Nault is 5-10, 175 pounds, which put them on the smaller side as backs. While both show good speed and run really hard they are not likely to get any Division I scholarship offers.

I have said Oklahoma State would be smart to see if Landon Nault is willing to join his brother Logan, who is a walk-on wide receiver for the Cowboys. Landon is a good athlete who could eventually work into playing time. Stringer ran for well over 100 yards in the game and really runs tough and right over defenders, but could not do that against Division I college linemen and linebackers defenders.

The running back that stole the show and was the MVP in getting the gold ball for the Yellow Jackets was sophomore Nick Smith. The 5-7, 165-pound Smith is a baseball standout that hit seven home runs last spring.

He hit four home runs in Boone Pickens Stadium on Thursday night. Smith opened the scoring with a 75-yard touchdown run as he broke through the defensive line and then scooted to the sideline and outran the rest of the Blanchard defenders. He kicked a 35-yard field goal to give Kingfisher a 9-0 lead before a safety and a long run by Stringer left the score tied 9-9. Another Blanchard touchdown set up by a Stringer run made it 16-9 at halftime.

In the second half Smith broke a 36-yard touchdown run to tie the game and then after a fourth-down stop by the Kingfisher defense, Smith went 83 yards for a 23-16 lead on the scoreboard.

Smith finished his huge night with more than 230 rushing yards and the four touchdowns. His last scoring run, the clincher, covered 26 yards. Four touchdowns and a field goal plus three extra points as Smith scored every Kingfisher point. Late in the game, tough running by Nault helped play keep away and finish off the win.

Two Kingfisher junior defenders that also play on offense were quite helpful too. Jace Sternberger caught a 21-yard pass in the first quarter to help set up the field goal.

The 6-4, 215-pound son of the Kingfisher school superintendent has really come on this season. At defensive end, he sacked Blanchard's quarterback twice in the game for big losses. He almost blocked a punt and over all raised havoc with the Blanchard offense. Sternberger is a legit prospect for next fall. With his frame he will continue to fill out and he has good speed and athleticism.

The top prospect at Kingfisher is defensive tackle/offensive guard Kaden Jackson. The 6-2 1/2, 260-pounder is a force to deal with. Seminole could not stop him last week in the semifinals with double and, sometimes, triple teams.

Blanchard saw Jackson dominate the line of scrimmage and often force Stringer to take evasive action before he could even get to the original line of scrimmage. Jackson made at least four tackles behind the line, giving him some 20 tackles for loss on the season.

Kingfisher celebrates a state championship and two prospects for the future, Jace Sternberger and Kaden Jackson, along with the sophomore Nick Smith, assure that Kingfisher will have a chance to be back again next season.

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