Monday Morning Quarterback: Pryor tops Locust Grove to open season

By Categories: Tahlequah
Last Updated: August 28, 20234.7 min read

Only Pryor managed to taste victory in the Tahlequah region Friday in week zero as the Tigers came away with a 45-14 win over Locust Grove in a Mayes County battle. Joining the Pirates in the losing column were Adair, Westville, Salina and Hulbert.


Pryor did as it pleased in a 45-14 rout of Locust Grove Friday in both teams’ season openers in a Mayes County week zero clash.

The Tigers finished with 429 total yards of offense and had standout performances from quarterback Braden Ward, running back Julian Espinoza and wide receiver Kendrick Propst. Ward completed 19 of 31 passes for 238 yards and had three touchdown passes, Espinoza rushed for 119 yards on 15 carries and found the end zone twice, and Propst was Ward’s top target, closing with four receptions for 67 yards and a TD.

“I was pleased with our kids. Always nice to start the season off with a win,” Pryor head coach Kenny Davis said. “I thought our kids played with outstanding effort and physicality. We made some mistakes, which is to be expected in the opening game. 

“I was excited to see a lot of different guys making plays on both sides of the ball. We still have a long way to go in getting to the level we want to be at, but I think we have a group of guys that’s hungry to get better. Proud of our kids and coaches. It was a fun night with a great crowd.”

Pryor scored the game’s first 45 points and led comfortably at halftime, 32-0, after a 24-point outburst in the second quarter.

Espinoza started the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter. In the second quarter, Propst had a 15-yard TD run, Gavin Roberts was on the receiving end of a 10-yard scoring toss from Ward, and Espinoza added his second touchdown run from one yard out.

Ward threw his third TD pass in the third quarter on a 17-yard completion to Espinoza, and John Whipple completed the Tigers’ scoring in the fourth quarter on a three-yard run.

Locust Grove, who was penalized 13 times for 112 yards, committed three turnovers and managed 196 total yards of offense, got its first points in the third quarter on a 17-yard touchdown run from running back Chad Adams. Quarterback Titan Hix had a 6-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

“We did all the things you can’t do in a week zero football game,” Pirates’ first-year head coach Paul Hix said. “Turnovers, penalties, and special teams gaffes. We’re extremely young and some of those guys got valuable experience and I’m proud of them but it showed in the final score.”

The Pirates were led offensively by Adams and Hix. Adams had 65 yards rushing on 12 carries, and Hix added 61 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Hix completed 8 of his 27 pass attempts for 67 yards and threw a pair of interceptions.

JAY 42, ADAIR 28

Adair senior quarterback Cale Winfrey shined for the Warriors, but it wasn’t enough for Adair in a 42-28 setback to Jay.

Winfrey threw for 266 yards and added 84 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Ryan Wilson was also productive, rushing for 60 yards with a touchdown in first career start.

It was the first game for Adair’s Brady Bradbury as a head coach.

“We knew the game was going to be physical and I was proud of our guys being as physical as they could against Jay,” Bradbury said. “Jay is a good football team. I was proud of the way our guys showed some grit after halftime, being down 28-12 and coming back and tying it up. “The score doesn’t dictate how good of a game it was. We had a couple of costly turnovers and didn’t punch a touchdown in right before halftime to get the momentum.

Overall, it was a good first game with a lot to build on going forward. As for the first game as a head coach, it felt like less pressure than being a coordinator to be honest. I have a great staff around that makes my job easy. We enjoyed last night and seeing our team compete.”


Salina couldn’t get enough from its offense in a 12-10 home loss in its season opener.

The Wildcats’ lone touchdown came on a Eli Swarer touchdown pass to Cooper Hooker. Swarer completed 10 of 23 passes for 125 yards, but threw three interceptions. Hooker closed with two catches for 54 yards.

Salina was limited to 14 yards on the ground and turned the ball over four times.

Jaron Bailey led a defense that had five players finish with double figure tackles. Bailey finished with 12, while Joseph Robbins, Jescee Sanders and Elijah Gardner each followed with 11. Jax Kiener collected 10 tackles and had four tackles for losses. Cody Wheeler recorded seven tackles, including 4.5 tackles for losses.

“We did some good things but made too many mistakes to win the game,” Salina head coach Clayton Saiz said. “A lot of positives and a lot of things to clean up. Definitely some potential to be successful this year if we can continue to get better and mature as a team.”


Hulbert couldn’t do much right in a 65-7 season-opening loss on the road to Kansas.

“We have to be more physical on both sides of the ball. Kansas dominated both sides up front and took advantage of that,” Hulbert head coach Chad Botts said. “We have to get tougher mentally and physically. A lot of missed opportunities against Kansas.” 

Sophomore quarterback Ethan Ellis was one of the Riders’ bright spots, although Hulbert was held to close to 100 yards of total offense.

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