Broken Arrow, Union embrace national exposure in season opener

Saturday marked the first time two Oklahoma High School football teams went head-to-head on national television. (KTUL)

"It's always fun to talk about it all before the game and then after," said Union head football coach Kirk Fridrich after his team secured a 26-15 win over the Broken Arrow Tigers in the Redskins' regular season opener.

Fridrich was referring to this game being the first time two Oklahoma High School football teams squared off on a nationally televised stage. According to one of Saturday's production assistants, the telecast included nine cameras, multiple audio receivers, and a production crew of approximately 30-40 people.

"After the first drive I was in, I was like oh; I forgot all about ESPN," said Union senior offensive lineman Alfonso Gallegos. "I wasn't even worrying about that. I was worried about the game."

For others, whether it was the prospect of playing on national TV, playing the first game, or both, Broken Arrow's defensive line had a lot of jitters in the first half. There were multiple encroachment penalties.

"We just had to settle down and get used to the game," explained Broken Arrow senior defensive tackle Derrick Shaw. "We were too hyped. We got to settle down and get used to it. And then we got it together."

Once the Tigers settled in, a national showcase was a perfect opportunity for someone like Shaw. Not already being verbally committed to any college football program, he made plenty of great plays in the trenches against several other future college players.

At one point in the fourth quarter, Shaw recovered a fumble and returned it for a few yards before being tackled near midfield. "Man, I thought I was [going to score a touchdown.] But then I was like, 'oh my that's far away.' And they got me."

These games are always nice for colleges who already have verbal commitments from players. Union senior wide receiver C.J. Moore didn't have his best game. But the Oklahoma State commit drew plenty of discussion about the Cowboys in the broadcast.

"All the short yardage was open," said Moore. "There were a few times we took a shot deep. And he overthrew it a few times. But we'll get back at it and just keep going."

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