Stigler’s Chris Risenhoover earned Coach of the Year honors.
Risenhoover’s Panthers went 10-3 and three rounds deep into the postseason, having their best season in four decades. In doing so, he also led the team through two stunning tragedies — the death of two players, Cody Cassinger in July and Gordon Parsons in September.
“Those two families helped us get through this season. To me they get that credit,” he said. “They were there for our kids throughout the year. Compounding the emotional strain, their kids were part of the talent we had returning and left holes that way as well.
“But we battled through it. We lost a game at Checotah that we felt like would keep us from one of our goals, which was winning a district championship. But in the next two weeks in practice and games, these kids took it to the next level and we kept it there until we ran into Kingfisher (in the quarterfinals).”
His quarterback, Cade Shearwood, credits his coach with keeping the team together.
“He never let go of his high expectations for us. He was demanding, but he also showed us he loved us and supported us as people,” he said.
Shearwood (1,769 yards and 20 touchdowns rushing, 2,018 yards and 20 TDs passing) repeated as the Large School Offensive Player of the Year. He finished second to Gandara in the MVP voting. Shearwood’s selection was from among half of the 20 area schools which are 3A and above.
“The Lord’s blessed me, because I know how good some of these other guys are,” he said.
Most noticeable in 2012 was his development as a passer, something he also said was a divine intervention.
“I did things like triceps development, handle pulls with my throwing arm but I’d done that before,” he said. “And I worked on my throwing motion but to me it just suddenly started happening in spring ball and I realized I hadn’t come close to throwing like this. in the past.”
Risenhoover, a native of Stigler who played there himself, called Shearwood the “best player to ever come through Stigler High School.” Shearwood has verbally committed to play football at Central Oklahoma as a defensive back (he had nine interceptions in his high school career) or as a skill position other than quarterback.
“His throwing days are probably over,” Risenhoover said. “But what he did to make himself into a passer just capped a great career, the best ever here in my book.”
Vian’s Rowdy Simon (132 tackles) was chosen Small School Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Simon, a linebacker who had an outstanding year as a running back as well, was a very close fourth in the MVP voting.
“To repeat is pretty cool,” he said.
Simon’s numbers are deceiving. He played about half of every game in the regular season as the Wolverines outscored opponents 59-6 in a 13-1 2A semifinal season.
“Had our schedule been tougher his numbers would have been better because that’s the kind of player he was for us. His value on both sides of the ball were immeasurable,” Vian coach Brandon Tyler said.
Simon is also being recruited by Air Force. Tulsa has shown interest and a number of Division II schools are heavy in pursuit.