MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

December 16, 2013

COLUMN: Area prep football action begins long winter’s nap

The lights are out on the area’s prep football fields, and perhaps with some divinely laid symbolism, the final two games of the year had the lights go out prematurely.

In Hilldale versus Seminole the Friday after Thanksgiving, there was a power failure that forever will keep the clock from hitting zero on those 18 seniors. I don’t know what that means for next year’s season opener at Hornet Field other than Chad Kirkhart will have a heck of a time trying to get them back on the field under OSSAA approval.

Yeah, it looks like a major rebuilding project for Kirkhart, and we know how the last one went. He did quite the craftsmanship two seasons ago when all these seniors replaced 17 other seniors. Only Stigler’s Chris Risenhoover, who matched Kirkhart with a quarterfinal drive in 2012, had as tough a road. His team battled through the deaths of two starters to get there  which, just guessing on the thoughts of other voters, probably gave him a slight edge in All-Phoenix Coach of the Year honors last year.

This year that honor is up for grabs between Kirkhart, Vian’s Brandon Tyler, Wagoner’s Dale Condict and Checotah’s Chad Hendricks, a former Muskogee High assistant in his first year as the Wildcats’ coach. The coach and team will be presented here Christmas Day.

Tyler took a Wolverines roster that looked a lot like Kirkhart’s will next year, with so many absent seniors, and made it back to the 2A semifinals, losing the 56-39 sprint against Davis on Friday which had a power failure following a thunderstorm that altogether delayed the kickoff more than a half-hour.

The first half had plenty of electricity with 10 touchdowns between the two teams. It was a far better game than the final score indicated.

Anadarko head coach Kent Jackson was right — the 4A championship decider was the 34-14 semifinal win over Condict’s Wagoner team, a game Wagoner led 14-13 early in the second half before the only 4A team with more team speed than the Bulldogs ran off 61 unanswered points — 40 of those coming Saturday in a shutout win over Poteau.

Oh and Jenks beat Union for the 6A state championship. Has that ever happened? Good luck to those 14 other teams in the so-called Division I of 6A next season in your pursuit of being the No. 3 team in the group.  There’s absolutely no indication the same beat since 1995 won’t change at the top.

As for Division II, the way Muskogee finished with two impressive wins, the sun should shine on the Roughers quite a bit more in 2014. No Jenks, no Union, no BA. We’ll see if the momentum is built upon by Josh Blankenship and company, but the parts seem to be coming together.

Three more games remain — the 3A, 2A and A finals next week. But that’s them. We’re done. Lights out.

Parting memo to Nick Saban: Seeing you stay out of Longhorn Country keeps you from a potential trifecta on the Sooners, which we’d have no doubt heard about in early October had you lived up to your 15-point favorite status in the Sugar Bowl. The Big 12 probably won’t miss you. Meanwhile, keep tabs on the travels between Stillwater and Austin, but bet on Stanford’s David Shaw landing in Austin.

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