“Champions don’t talk, they just perform.”
The Claremore High School freshmen Zebras brought home the Metro Lakes title last Monday night at Bishop Kelley, thanks to the “Heisman-like” performance of all-purpose standout Dustin Basks.
Basks scored Claremore’s first 20 points on a pass play, a kickoff return and an interception return — all in the first half.
Looking like former Michigan Wolverine sensation Charles Woodson, Basks proved to be ‘unstoppable’ while leading the Zebras to a 33-13 victory over the previously unbeaten Comets.
“Dustin (Basks) had an unbelievable game,” Claremore ninth-grade head coach Perry Cagle said. “He’ll remember this conference championship. The kid’s a player and a dandy to coach.”
Early in the first quarter, Claremore needed only four plays to travel 67 yards and take a 6-0 lead.
Quarterback Kaleb Hinds heaved a 53-yard pass to a leaping Basks, who caught the ball between two Comet defenders before muscling his way into the end zone.
On the ensuing series, Bishop Kelley went 80 yards in four plays with its quarterback scampering down the home sideline for the 14-yard touchdown. The extra point was successful and the Comets regained the 7-6 lead.
The ‘never-say-die’ attitude of the Zebras and Basks silenced the Comet fans for a brief moment on the ensuing kickoff.
Basks fielded the return at his 24-yard line, back-tracked to the 20-yard line to elude a defender, then managed to weave his way past the Comets for a momentum-shifting 76-yard touchdown. Derrick Reliford added the two-point conversion run and Claremore see-sawed the lead back its favor at 14-7.
Cagle said that this shootout was fun to watch for not only the coaches, but the fans of both schools.
“Both teams playing very hard with big hits and not many penalties,” Cagle added.
A 49-yard touchdown run by the Comets to start off the second quarter pulled Bishop Kelley within a point of the Zebras at 14-13.
But, that was short-lived thanks to Claremore’s ‘Wrecking Crew’ defense, which forced four Comet turnovers on the night.
“Our defense was the difference tonight,” Cagle said.
Basks’ third touchdown of the game — a 47-yard interception return — kicked off 19 unanswered points by the Zebras and sent Claremore into halftime with a 20-13 lead.
“Even though our defense was bend but no break,” Cagle said. “the offense was good enough to take advantage.”
Coming out in the third quarter, Hinds connected with Reliford for a 33-yard pass to set up another Claremore touchdown. Several plays later, Reliford found paydirt with a 1-yard scoring run and Jared Vincent booted the extra point to extend Claremore’s lead to 27-13.
Claremore got another interception on Bishop Kelley’s next possession as Hinds stepped in front of the receiver and returned the pick to the Comets’ 13-yard line.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Hinds recovered a fumble at the Bishop Kelley 7-yard line, thus setting up another Zebra red-zone scoring opportunity.
This time, Claremore needed only two plays with Reliford blasting through a wide-open hole and following the interior blocking of Wyatt Johnson for the 5-yard score to seal the win.
Claremore finished with 250 total offensive yards.