Oklahoma All-State football 2020: Owen Ostroski’s talent, tenacity helped Tulsa Holland Hall reach new heights
TULSA — Owen Ostroski had a fiery message on the morning of his final day as a high school football player.
“WOKE UP PISSED OFF,” the Tulsa Holland Hall star tweeted hours before taking on Tulsa Lincoln Christian in the Class 3A state title game.
Ostroski's pent-up aggression showed when the teams met at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium in Edmond.
The defensive lineman was a nightmare to block and constantly caused disruptions in the backfield. He finished with eight tackles, including 3½ for loss, and half a sack as Tulsa Holland Hall earned a 35-7 victory.
Ostroski’s performance in December capped an outstanding senior season in which he had 94 tackles (41 for loss), 15 sacks, five forced fumbles and three blocked punts.
Along with his individual success, Tulsa Holland Hall finished 12-0 and claimed its first Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association football state title.
Ostroski was the driving force behind the historic season, and he’s The Oklahoman’s All-State Defensive Player of the Year.
“That was a blast to be a part of,” said Ostroski, who led a defense that posted five shutouts and allowed just 69 points. “I never expected a football season to be that fun.”
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Ostroski brought a confident and energetic attitude every week that rubbed off on his teammates.
The tweet he sent the day of the state title game provides an idea of the way he approaches each game.
He was definitely amped on that day.
“For the past couple of years, my favorite college football player has been Tory Carter,” Ostroski said. “He was a fullback, tight end, special teams player at LSU. That was something that he did. Before big games, he would tweet that out. The way he carried himself on and off the field and the way he played, that was something that I wanted to emulate.”
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, Ostroski was one of the most intimidating players in the state.
He pummeled opposing quarterbacks, who were always on high alert. They knew what Ostroski had done in previous games, and it usually didn’t matter.
“You could tell the impact he had on the quarterbacks playing,” Tulsa Holland Hall coach Tag Gross said. “They were worried where he was. He created fear.”
Ostroski’s size and physicality are the first things that stand out about him on the gridiron, along with the substantial amount of eye black that streaks down his face.
He also wears an Italian flag headband during games.
The Ostroski name is Polish, but the family has some Italian blood.
“My dad’s dad was Polish,” he said. “But my dad’s mom, her entire family immigrated to America in the early 1900s. She’s a full-blown Italian and all that. For my birthday a couple years ago, my brother got me that headband. The first game I wore it, I played really well. Kind of a superstitious thing. I just always had to wear it to play good.”
He committed to Army in the fall. He decommitted in January, shortly after Army defensive line coach Tank Wright left to become the head strength and conditioning director at Illinois.
“That was kind of the main factor that caused me to decommit,” Ostroski said. “Also, with the coronavirus and everything, it was hard that the NCAA banned all visits and everything to Division I schools. I never would have gotten the opportunity to go up and visit before signing, which was a really big deal.”
Ostroski didn’t receive an offer from Tulsa until after he committed to Army.
His dad, former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Jerry Ostroski, was an All-American for the Golden Hurricane.
The younger Ostroski has always wanted to play for his hometown program.
“Kind of a no-brainer to go to the University of Tulsa,” he said. “It’s 20 minutes from my house. Both my parents went there, an uncle went there, a cousin went there. Four of my coaches played there. It is a team that I’ve loved and was a fan for as long as I can remember.”
Tulsa football isn’t the only athletic team Ostroski looked up to when he was growing up.
A devout professional wrestling fan, Ostroski idolized the Matt and Jeff Hardy tag team when the brothers competed together in the WWE.
Last month, Ostroski got a shoutout from Matt Hardy on Twitter for wearing one of the wrestler’s T-shirts during a media interview.
Ostroski’s energy on the field is similar to the wrestlers he worships.
His tenacity had a big impact on Tulsa Holland Hall and helped the program reach new heights.
“The kids responded to how hard his motor runs,” Gross said.
Reporter Nick Sardis covers high school sports across the Oklahoma City metro and state. Have a story idea for Nick? He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @nick_sardis. Support Nick’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe or by using the link at the top of this page.