SHAWNEE—The Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) football team ended the 2013 season with a 3-8 record, but those who have kept up with the Bison know this will be a memorable renewal of the program’s return to the gridiron since last competing in 1940.
“The record didn’t indicate what we had anticipated going into (the season),” said OBU head coach Chris Jensen. “I think we had higher expectations for ourselves. We competed really well.”
OBU started the season with an 0-5 record, but the Bison were competitive in most of those contests, holding either halftime leads or leads after the third quarter, with chances to win late. Three of those five games were decided by less than a touchdown.
Going 3-3 in the latter part of the season, OBU picked up its first win at Southwestern University (Texas), 42-21, Oct. 12. The Bison follow up the next week with a home victory against Wayland Baptist University, 37-10. Then, OBU capped off the year with a 39-28 win at Texas College.
“I think the way we finished the season has helped propel us in the offseason,” said Jensen. “There’s a great deal of excitement among our players. They are ready to get into the weight room and prepare for 2014.”
The Bison were pegged to finish last in the Central States Football League (CSFL) preseason poll. OBU overcame many expectations finishing fourth, ahead of Wayland Baptist and Texas College. Langston University was the conference champion.
“I think we accomplished a lot of things we wanted to accomplish,” Jensen said. “We try to remind the players that success isn’t necessarily measured by wins or losses, but we are doing the very best that we are capable. I think we made the most of what we had this year.
“The only way you are going to be successful in life, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking from a team perspective or an individual perspective, is you expect more out of yourself than anyone else does. For us to end up 3-8, I know we are on the right track, and our players know we are on the right track because we were so competitive. That’s the most important thing. We believe we are doing things that will make us a championship-type team in the future and the near future.”
OBU placed seven players on the CSFL all-conference team, led by Co-Defensive Player of the Year Kimes Gilbert. The sophomore defensive lineman led the NAIA with 16 sacks, 1.5 sacks per game and 2.5 tackles for loss per game.
Gilbert, also one of OBU’s four first-team all-conference selections, was the only CSFL Player of the Year award winner to also make Academic All-Conference. Additionally, he made the league’s Champions of Character team.
Joining Gilbert on the first team were offensive lineman Zach Clark, defensive back Eugene Estes and kicker Austin Manger. Clark, a 6-2, 250-pound freshman, started at left tackle for the Bison. Jensen credited the offensive line, led by Clark, for being “a big reason” why the OBU offense had success this season.
Estes, a freshman, was 17th in the NAIA with 1.2 passes broken up per game. He also had four interceptions.
Manger tied for first nationally with a perfect PAT percentage, converting all 31 attempts. The senior also was sixth in the NAIA with a 90-percent accuracy on field goal attempts. Manger also was named to the Champions of Character team.
The Bison also had three second-team selections, including running back Darryl Fields, Jr., wide receiver Nyko Symonds and linebacker Brynden Pitzer.