Trojans hope to rebound in Backyard Bowl
Another installment of the Backyard Bowl between the Jenks and Union football teams will be played Friday with both teams searching for a much-needed win.
The Redskins have gone winless in their first two games. They lost to Mansfield-Lake Ridge 47-44 Week Zero and dropped the game against Broken Arrow 14-0 last week.
The Trojans began the season with a blow-out victory over Mansfield-Legacy 38-0 but hit a roadblock last week with a 57-7 loss to Bixby.
Now, Jenks has to ensure the way they played against Bixby doesn’t travel into this Friday’s rivalry game.
“With any game, especially a loss, you look at the things you didn’t do well, and you try to fix and move forward,” coach Keith Riggs said. “There were just more of those that game than normal… One game does not define us as a team, but we do need to have a sense of urgency to fix some things.”
Having a comeback game won’t be easy against Union.
The Redskins sport the fastest player in the state according to Riggs in A.J. Green. At wide receiver, Kyler Pearson, a University of Kansas commit, can be tough to keep up with.
“He’s (Pearson) really hard to cover, he can be very quick and elusive,” Riggs said. “Those two guys will be a big challenge for our defense.”
Against Bixby, Jenks gave up 445 total yards of offense, 291 in the air and 154 on the ground.
The Trojans had trouble establishing a run game against the Spartans. Jenks collected just 82 rushing yards Week One after posting 196 the week before.
It’ll be imperative for Jenks to get its run game going to break the losing cycle.
“We have to be able to establish the run,” Riggs said. “We’ve been able to do that so far. Unfortunately, last week we got in a situation last week where we had to throw the ball when we got behind. Being able to run the ball and pass when we want to pass it versus being forced to is going to be really important for us.”
Gameday conditions won’t be like in years’ past.
Fans typically make the trek to Chapman Stadium for the Backyard Bowl but for the first time since 2010, the game will be played at Union’s Tuttle Stadium. Despite the location change, Riggs believes the atmosphere will be just as great.
“It’ll be, I suspect, a packed stadium,” he said. “It’ll still be extremely loud just like it has been at TU. I think it may feel a little different pregame but once the game starts you don’t notice your surroundings very much. Our kids are pretty focused on the coaches and what’s going on, on the field.”
With a young team, the Trojans hope to gain experience playing in a big game.
“You can’t stop them from looking at this game a little differently, it’s a huge rivalry,” Riggs said. “Every year it’s a big game. Quite often most years we end up playing them twice. We have a lot of respect for their program and I think they’re the same towards us.
“It’s a big game and it’s a great atmosphere for our kids to learn what a big game is all about. It’s a great experience this early. This is why you play these types of games, so you understand what it takes in big games to deal with adversity and changes in momentum. It’s an exciting week for our kids, for our school, and our community because everybody looks forward to it.”