Booker T's Fall from Grace Shakes Up 5A Playoffs

Thursday, July 28th 2011, 5:21 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Nov 9, 2009 11:28 PM CDT

Class 5A Playoff Coverage on Oklahoma Sports
- Tulsa Central Prepares for First Playoff Appearance Since 2003 (11/11)
- Booker T’s Fall From Grace Shakes Up 5A Playoffs (11/10)
- Top 3 Class 5A Postseason Matchups – First Round (11/10)
- Class Breakdowns: Class 5A (11/9)
- View the full playoff bracket
- Oklahoma Sports High School Football Playoff Discussion

Stephany Speck
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Booker T. Washington was expected to again be a contender for the 5A Gold Ball, but in the midst of scandal and speculation, the Hornets plummeted from the high ranks of high school football out of the playoff brackets.

The Hornets’ win last year in the 5A State Championship was the program’s first state title since 1984, a handful of years before the team’s eldest players were even born.

The school’s football program came under question, which ultimately found Booker T. Washington had violated OSSAA rules pertaining to establishing or maintaining athletic eligibility by residence or school selection, as well as improper recruiting incentives for athletes.

The investigation found some of the Hornets’ players were ineligible and had been violating OSSAA rules.

The Tulsa Public School’s punishment included two varsity forfeits, along with the suspension of head coach Antwain Jimmerson and assistant head coach Scott Gilkey.

With the team’s late-season forced forfeits, the district’s remaining schools were given a second hope for post-season play.

Had Booker T. not fallen from the pedestal, the district would have likely been ranked as follows:

1) Bishop Kelley
2) Booker T. Washington
3) Bixby
4) Nathan Hale

As a result of the shakeup in 5A, the seeds shifted and Pryor has an opportunity to seek a state championship. Currently, the district is ranked as follows:

1) Bishop Kelley
2) Bixby
3) Nathan Hale
4) Pryor

Bixby would have played McAlester in the first round, but will now face Tulsa Central.

Nathan Hale would have seen East Central, but is slated to kick off against McAlester.

Pryor was given a second breath of life this season, placing fourth in district following the Booker T. forfeits.

Although Pryor may not have made a race at the state title otherwise, the team’s head coach, J.R. Winton said his team is not going to let their late-season struggles jeopardize their postseason play.

“We’ve been given an opportunity that we maybe wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Winton said.

He said his team has re-focused and knows going into round one’s game against East Central, they’ll have to play at a high caliber throughout the entire game in order to have a chance to move on.

“Our goal this week is to play better, longer than we have in the past,” Winton said. “We know what level to play at, so it’s not going to be a surprise.”

With the reigning champs bumped out of the 5A brackets and teams given second winds as a result, the momentum heading into round one is exciting and unpredictable.