Throckmorton QB Oliver rises to the challenge

Zach Duncan
Thomas Metthe/Reporter-News 
 Throckmorton's Bryson Oliver (3) tries to shake off Water Valley's Colt Riley (28) during the first quarter of Throckmorton's 62-16 win in the six-man Div. I regional round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at Longhorn Stadium in Early.

Photo by Thomas Metthe, Tommy Metthe/Abilene Reporter-News

Thomas Metthe/Reporter-News Throckmorton's Bryson Oliver (3) tries to shake off Water Valley's Colt Riley (28) during the first quarter of Throckmorton's 62-16 win in the six-man Div. I regional round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at Longhorn Stadium in Early.

Thomas Metthe/scripps newspapers
Throckmorton's Bryson Oliver (3) has thrown for 2,422 yards and 41 touchdown passes, with a 68 percent completion rate.

Photo by Thomas Metthe

Thomas Metthe/scripps newspapers Throckmorton's Bryson Oliver (3) has thrown for 2,422 yards and 41 touchdown passes, with a 68 percent completion rate.

Thomas Metthe/Reporter-News 
 Throckmorton's Bryson Oliver (3) tries to shake off Water Valley's Colt Riley (28) during the first quarter of Throckmorton's 62-16 win in the six-man Div. I regional round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at Longhorn Stadium in Early.

Photo by Thomas Metthe

Thomas Metthe/Reporter-News Throckmorton's Bryson Oliver (3) tries to shake off Water Valley's Colt Riley (28) during the first quarter of Throckmorton's 62-16 win in the six-man Div. I regional round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at Longhorn Stadium in Early.

THROCKMORTON — Shortly after last year's state title, Throckmorton's Bryson Oliver was bragging to his older brother about potentially surpassing his championship ring total.

Braxton, who was the quarterback of the title-winning 2005 Greyhounds, issued a motivating challenge to his younger sibling.

"I challenged him to step up and get a ring for himself," Braxton said to Bryson, who was the backup quarterback in 2011. "I'm kicking myself for saying it now, but he's rose up to the challenge. He's one step closer, and I couldn't be happier for him."

Bryson Oliver not only had the responsibility of following in his brother's footsteps, but he entered this season having to replace two-year starter Tucker Brown, the reigning Six-Man Division I Offensive MVP.

While Oliver endured early rough patches, the junior's emergence is one of the reasons the Greyhounds (12-1) are making their third straight appearance in the Division I state championship game Saturday against Abbott.

"Because he was kind of thrown into the fire, every game he survives, he gets so much better on Friday night of the next week," Throckmorton coach Mike Reed said. "He's really handled the brunt of what we want. With that brunt comes a lot of added pressure and a lot of consequences and a lot of butt-chewings."

Oliver has thrown for 2,422 yards and 41 touchdown passes, completing 68 percent of his attempts in Reed's complex six-man offense.

Six of Oliver's seven interceptions came in Throckmorton's 80-76 loss to Dallas Covenant, which ended a 33-game win streak in the regular season and proved to be a turning point in Oliver's progression.

"I had a tough time keeping my head up in that game. I really didn't shrug any plays off, and I think that's how it all piled up on me," Bryson said. "My brother just told me, 'It has already happened. Keep your head up. You're going to make bad plays again, but as long as you keep your head up, those bad plays will lessen and the good will outweigh the bad stuff.'"

Bryson, the youngest of four brothers, said Braxton inspired him to become a quarterback when he was growing up. Braxton was the starting quarterback on the Greyhounds' first two six-man teams in 2004-05, culminating his high school career with a 68-22 victory over Valley in the 2005 title game.

Those enduring memories struck a chord with Bryson, who wears the same number on his jersey Braxton did.

"I didn't know what I wanted to be, and obviously I'm going to look up to my older brother," Bryson said. "When I saw the success he had, I just wanted to be like him."

Now Braxton serves as a trustworthy source of information and a friend who can relate to the challenges facing a Throckmorton quarterback.

"I knew he felt a lot of pressure with following up Tucker Brown and then what I did," Braxton said. "I told him, over and over, this is his team. I think he has adapted and has done a great job taking over his role."

Reed said one example of Oliver's maturity happened early in last week's 60-48 victory over Valley when his quarterback's streak of eight straight games without an interception ended.

But Oliver stayed calm when the Greyhounds trailed by 10 points and finished strong, throwing for 320 yards and four touchdowns.

"If he'd have thrown an interception six or seven weeks ago, he'd have probably shut down," Reed said. "I try to keep pushing them so when adversity hits, we can move past it."

Oliver admits he has been blessed with walking into a pretty good situation, having lots of options when he drops back to pass, including the dynamic Gary Farquhar.

Bryson said being the quarterback at a six-man powerhouse is an honor he admits he's not always sure he deserves. But Reed said Bryson's toughness and aggressiveness has blended in well with a team that has its sights set on repeating as champs.

"I just do the best I can and come out and play my hardest and be humbled that I got considered for the position I was put in," Bryson said. "It's been a great journey so far and hopefully I can finish it out with the same success my brother had."

Note: A third Oliver brother also owns a state title ring. Blayton Oliver was the Greyhounds' starting center in 2011 as a senior and caught the game-clinching touchdown pass in the 48-36 win over Borden County.

© 2012 Times Record News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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1. Ben Davis, Graham (2,690Yds, 28TDs)
2. Chase London, Rider (2,389Yds, 28TDs)
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