MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

August 25, 2011

Meet the Tigers

Fort Gibson meets, greets players, cheerleaders

The Fort Gibson field house was abuzz with activity on Thursday evening as folks from all over the community turned out to meet the Tigers.

The night’s activities included performances from cheerleading groups of all ages, a barbecue dinner, auction, and meeting the players of the 2011-2012 season.

Before the introductions began, visitors checked out the goods up for auction.

Tables were decked with everything from picture frames and baskets of treats to Fort Gibson football helmets signed by the players.

Head coach James Singleton said the auction raised close to $10,000 for the football program.

“We have a lot of equipment that we need to get refurbished and it helps with feeding the kids after the game,” he said. “This was very, very needed and it was gracious of the community to come out and support us.

To kick off the night’s events, the first through third grade cheerleaders warmed up the crowd with their “Let’s Get Fired Up” yell.

Next, the fourth through sixth grade cheerleaders led the crowd in a cheer.  

Coaches then introduced players from the second grade through middle school Tiger football teams.

Community spirit was strong as every player from the littlest on up received applause and support from the crowd.

Next, the varsity cheerleaders took to the floor with a “Red, White, Let’s Go, Let’s Fight” yell.

The girls made a spirit line as Head Coach James Singleton introduced players from the varsity team by name and position, including eight returning starters from last year.

Singleton, in his first year as head coach, praised the Tigers for their commitment to the program.

“It was very challenging physically and mentally to encourage these kids to be hard workers,” Singleton said after the event. “We’ve had a rugged preseason, trying to get their feet back underneath them.”

Singleton also had praise for the ample skill he sees in the players.

“We have a really talented young sophomore class, who will have a chance to contribute significantly on Fridays,” he said. “Our juniors are very athletic and very good football players. And our seniors, even though I’m their third head coach in three years, they’ve responded well and have accepted the role of being our leaders.

The decision as to who would play starting quarterback was still up in the air going into Friday’s scrimmages against Coweta and Miami.

Sophomore Randy Mendenhall and freshman J.R. Singleton are hoping for the job this season.

No matter the outcome, both said they are happy to be playing for the Tigers.

“I’m working for a starting spot, but could play tight end if I don’t get it,” Mendenhall said.

“I play a lot of positions. If I don’t get it this year, it’ll be something to work for next year,” Singleton said.

“It’s been very competitive over the summer and through preseason practice. They both bring different skill sets to the table. We’re going to make a decision next week as far as which one we go with,” Singleton said.

Singleton said there will be a place for both players on the team, no matter who takes the quarterback position.

“We told both of those guys when we brought them in that it’s not all or nothing. If you’re not playing quarterback, you’ll have a chance to help us somewhere else, whether it’s secondary or defensive end,” he said.

The Tigers’ next scrimmage is 5 p.m. Friday at Oologah. Season starts at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2 at Tahlequah.

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