Any football team at any level has to frown upon a schedule that opens with four straight road games. But the schedule that Jenks (Okla.) High School is running through in the month of September is a veritable murderer's row. After a narrow victory at Bixby on Labor Day weekend to open their season, the Trojans played at the #1 team in the state last week - Tulsa Union. Tonight they travel to a loaded Springdale (Ark.) High School squad currently ranked #11 in the nation that features at least five Division I prospects, including Scout.com's #1 quarterback in the country Mitch Mustain. Next week Jenks High School will see the #9 team in the Sooner State, Broken Arrow.
Tonight's game at Springdale was originally scheduled for tomorrow, September 17, with a broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest, but it moved to the Friday night lights and a national television audience. You can see the Trojans face off against the Bulldogs live on ESPNU. And if you have that on your cable or satellite lineup, you will get a chance to scout Stanford top offensive line recruit Chase Beeler. The 6'4" 278-pound interior line prospect is ranked by Scout.com as the #9 player in Oklahoma and the #24 player in the Midlands region, though his stock is on the rise after a strong start to his senior year.
Against Union last week, Beeler was a dominating force in one of the most exciting and powerful high school games that will be played in 2005. He matched up for a good part of the game against four-star Chase Nelson, pancaking the nation's #21 defensive end three times and allowing no sacks. Beeler recorded 10 pancakes all told in the game, hammering Union's other defensive end and a couple of unsuspecting linebackers.
"From the people who watched the game, the general consensus was that I won that battle," Beeler says of the 'Chase Face-off' last Thursday night.
But the real source of celebration for the Jenks standout was the fourth quarter comeback that he helped mount on offense. Trailing 20-37 in the final period, the Trojans rattled off 21 unanswered points to take a late 41-37 lead. But Union answered with just 38 seconds left in the game, reclaiming the lead at 41-44. Jenks is typically a run-dominated team, but they took to the air on at least 60% of their plays in the Backyard Bowl, including the game-winner. With just 0:18 showing on the clock, they went 64 yards on a play-action pass for the winning touchdown and a 48-44 final tally.
"Now we're going from the frying pan to the fire," Beeler laughs, looking at his schedule.
More than just a momentous win for his school's run at a state championship, last week's performance against Union may be part of a springboard for a long-awaited scholarship offer from Oklahoma.
"I just talked to Coach Wilson, the offensive line coach," Beeler begins. "Their interest in me has definitely increased. With what has happened to them the past couple weeks, they expect that their recruiting will take a hit. They also had two of their offensive linemen quit the team. The upshot is that he says that OU was going to take four to five linemen, but now that will probably go up to eight. I sent the tape of the Union game, and he says that unless I look horrible, they are going to offer me."
Since Chase Beeler first came onto our radar last spring, the single most important factor to watch has been the in-state Sooners. Should they offer, Stanford and other suitors may be in trouble. But Beeler says that today Oklahoma has work to do.
"I'm staying up with everybody and watching their seasons - for the schools still in contention," he shares. "Stanford is still on top, and Northwestern is up there. Colorado is pretty interesting, but I still need to find out a few more things about them. Oklahoma is sort of on the edge after what happened against TCU and Tulsa."
Beeler says that he is primarily focused on his senior season right now, which will likely run all the way to the state championship game and a rematch with Union. The time for official visits will come later.
"Ultimately I'm going to make my decision in January. My focus for now is on my season. All the coaches seem to be okay with that," he relates. "I'll officially visit Stanford on January 13. One of the coaches is actually coming here on Monday."
There have been a couple of recruiting-related activities which Beeler has been able to afford this month, however. He is in the last stages of completing his Stanford admissions application, with one essay and one teacher recommendation to go. The Oklahoma interior lineman also made a surprise official visit to the "other" big school in the state Labor Day weekend.
"Yeah, I went to Oklahoma State for an official visit two weeks ago," Beeler reveals. "With the exception of Stanford, they have recruited me the hardest. The plan was just to take a little trip up there. We thought we would roll over Bixby just before that, but we barely won, 17-10. So that pretty much ruined things."
"I wanted a chance to get away for a weekend," he adds. "I wanted to take a sample of what a visit environment was like. It was close and easy. We set it up only a week and a half ahead."
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