When I flash back to my ninth-grade year of high school, I remember being intimidated by senior guys who looked like grown men.
They had cars, girlfriends and status.
I had a red bicycle.
As a Jenks High School freshman, Shaker Reisig is in an entirely different place than I was as a freshman in the Texas Panhandle.
On Friday, before a Union-Tuttle Stadium crowd of nearly 10,000 and a statewide audience of cable television viewers, this poised and supremely talented 15-year-old scored a fantastic distinction.
In a MidFirst Bank Backyard Bowl road game, while matched with favored and Class 6AI top-ranked Union, Reisig became the first Trojan freshman in more than 60 years to start a game at quarterback.
On his first pass of the night, Reisig was intercepted. After that, he settled into a productive and occasionally dazzling groove, driving the defending 6AI champion Trojans to a 22-0 victory and their second consecutive shutout conquest of Union.
By game’s end on Friday, Reisig was 12-of-17 passing for 150 yards and one touchdown. He found running back Jaiden Carroll with a perfectly executed screen pass, and Carroll raced to the end zone for the 50-yard score.
The most memorable throw of the night looked like something ripped from a Patrick Mahomes highlight video. While pressured and on the move, Reisig released a deep-ball strike that was dropped by a teammate in the end zone.
When Jenks opened the season with an overtime win at Mansfield (Texas) Summit and a home loss to Bixby, junior Ike Owens was the starting QB.
While Trojan players and fans celebrated their victory on Union’s new turf, Jenks coach Keith Riggs indicated to the Tulsa World’s Barry Lewis that the decision to start Reisig at Union was made after Thursday’s practice.
For a program that enters every season with the expectation of winning a state title, Reisig became the starting quarterback only 24 hours before the Backyard Bowl.
Reisig’s first-start performance was huge, but the Jenks triumph was a complete team endeavor. The Trojan defense limited Union to fewer than 200 total yards. Union was 1-of-10 on third-down conversions.
Included in Carroll’s 87-yard rushing performance was an additional touchdown on a 1-yard plunge.
During the third period, Union had only slightly more offensive yards (35) than penalty yards (30). Late in the quarter, Union was flagged for false starts on three consecutive plays. That might be a record of some sort.
During the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Jenks jolted Union with a trick play. Running back Jalyn Stanford launched a pass downfield. Wide-open Ty Walls made the catch and finished a 69-yard touchdown play that gave the Trojans their 22-point cushion, ensuring that Reisig would be the winning pitcher in a game that he, his family and Riggs will never forget.
After the Trojan Preview event on Aug. 20 in Jenks, I sent this text message to a football friend in Oklahoma City: “By the way, Jenks has a ninth-grade QB who will become a phenom.”
Referring to Reisig as a developing “phenom” was an overstatement at that time, but I know when I’m seeing something special.
I saw something special on Aug. 20 and again on Friday, and I suspect Reisig will develop into a four-year starter and an All-State type of figure. He’ll get scholarship offers. If he grows to at least 6-foot-2, he’ll get a bunch of offers.
His height is listed as being 5-11, but at 185 pounds he fits well on a varsity field. In pads and a helmet, he doesn’t look like a ninth-grader competing against defenders who are two and three years older. On Union’s defensive depth chart were eight seniors and 12 juniors.
Against those vastly more experienced rivals, Reisig took a huge step toward becoming a high school football superstar.