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Oklahoma high school football: Jaden Gilliland carrying the load for Bethany

Bethany's Jaden Gilliland had five touchdowns in the Bronchos' win at Elk City on Friday. [Photo provided]
Bethany's Jaden Gilliland had five touchdowns in the Bronchos' win at Elk City on Friday. [Photo provided]

BETHANY — Jaden Gilliland hasn’t spent much time on the sideline this year.

The Bethany sophomore tailback and linebacker’s twin brother, Jack, has been out with an injury he sustained in a scrimmage before the season.

The brothers expected to split duties in the offensive backfield, but Jack’s injury meant his brother had to carry the load by himself.

Jaden Gilliland has embraced the challenge, and he was outstanding on Friday night.

Gilliland ran for 196 yards and four scores on 19 carries, leading the Class 4A Bronchos to a 42-28 win at Elk City. He also caught a touchdown and recorded 12 tackles.

For his performance, The Oklahoman’s staff has named Gilliland its Player of the Week.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder is a physical runner, and he’s tough to bring down. Elk City’s (2-2, 0-1 District 4A-1) defense was fatigued when the fourth quarter started, and Gilliland took advantage of it.

“He’s kind of the runner that wears a defense down throughout the night,” Bethany coach Jon Arthur said.

Along with an expanded role on offense, Gilliland has been just as busy on the other side of the ball, especially during the past two weeks.

Some of Bethany’s (2-3, 1-1) linebackers were in quarantine because of coronavirus-related issues.

“He’s had to play really every snap of the game offensively and defensively the last couple of weeks as we kind of battled through some of that,” Arthur said.

Gilliland didn’t mind the added responsibilities. He viewed it as a great opportunity to gain experience while helping his team in the process.

“Definitely had to do more, but I’m glad I got to do it,” he said. “It was good for me.”

Jack Gilliland expects to return soon, so Jaden will likely have a lighter workload in the Bronchos’ upcoming games.

The brothers combined for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns on 118 carries last year.

They try to outperform each other, and Jaden is looking forward to resuming their struggle.

“We’re pretty close, and we’re really competitive,” he said. “We just always want to beat each other in whatever we’re doing.”

Nick Sardis

Nick Sardis joined The Oklahoman in 2017, and he covers high school sports. Born and raised in Norman, he played baseball at Norman North High School and is a student at the University of Oklahoma. Read more ›