MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

November 29, 2006

MHS makes strides, but not enough for title

Where it counts, it was defined as a loss that ended an 10-3 season.

But in a program that has strived to reach an elite-level status in Class 6A, it meant so much more

— defining the mark of the 2006 edition of the Muskogee Roughers on a process to build that type of program.

The halftime break was about to end. The coaching staff and captains had said all they were expected to say. Quarterback Rell Lewis, who makes more noise with his feet and throwing arm than his vocal chords, had something to add before everyone departed quarters.

He couldn’t recall his exact words a day later, but Muskogee coach Matt Hennesy remembered, especially the impact.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Hennesy said. “Tears welled up in our eyes. He looks into everyone’s eyes and says ‘you guys know I’m playing on one leg here, but I want you to come follow me and get this done. And I know that even though we lost the game, that’s exactly what happened.

“All I have ever asked is for my players to leave everything on the field. I have no doubt that happened. Jenks is a great team, they’re going to win the state championship. There’s nothing wrong with going out the way we did.”

Basically, Lewis was playing on one leg, still not fully recovered from medial collateral ligament damage suffered in the Oct. 6, 28-3 loss against Jenks. He’d also taken a half’s worth of shots similar to the one that knocked him out on the opening kickoff against the Trojans.

“Physically, he was about 50 percent,” co-captain Braxton Owens said. “But he went out of that locker room and played 100 percent.”

Those who ranked Muskogee as a preseason No. 1 team did so because of the Roughers’ talent coming back after a semifinal loss to Mustang. On its final outing of 2006, one step short of a championship game, a lack of talent wasn’t what beat them.

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