By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Goal one, a win in its season opener, didn’t go its way.
Goal two won’t be in play for another couple weeks. Between now and then, Muskogee’s going may be tougher than a Rougher.
Time will tell.
Muskogee faces No. 8 Owasso on the road Friday before returning home for a date with Fayetteville (Ark.), then opens with Broken Arrow and Westmoore.
To call that stretch brutal is an understatement. Owasso led 28-0 when a massive storm rumbled through, and there would be no game after the half, the outcome credited as a no-game.
Fayetteville, Broken Arrow and Westmoore outscored Muskogee 171-34 over the next three weeks. In two of those games, Muskogee was minus its starting quarterback, turning the reins over to a freshman, Quintahj Cherry.
It wasn’t until week 6 that the Roughers got into the win column, beating Edison 33-7 and at that point, the postseason was still within reach. They didn’t get there, but this group, he said, is better equipped for making that run.
P.S.: They are fully aware of the upcoming gauntlet.
“Even if we had beaten Sand Springs, with that in the win column it’s still the same schedule,” Muskogee coach Josh Blankenship said. “My hope is that the seniors who have gone through this, that they’ve seen in the middle of the season when we get over the difficulty of losing a bunch of games early.
“If they get into the playoffs, they’ve done something special and left a legacy to build on.”
While not making it either year, the ease of the second-half schedule and the close shaves of the past couple years show how reasonable that second goal is. Two years ago, the team bounced back from what had been a 70-3 loss the year before and fell in a 35-27 heartbreaker to Norman in week 9 that decided their playoff fate. Last year, a pair of three-point losses to Sapulpa and Putnam City finished Muskogee’s playoff hopes. So there’s substance to what
One of those seniors Blankenship hopes will take his words to heart is linebacker Ty-Chris Beasley. Blankenship said the 5-foot-6, 185-pounder was reinforcing that message before the coaches could after last week’s loss.
“I learned at a young age being negative doesn’t help much,” Beasley said. “My mom (Tracye Pouncil) did a lot of preaching to me and she’s got a lot of wisdom in her. She’s gone through some negative things and had to battle through it. She’s even been a coach to me on the field growing up. She’s smart, she knows football.”
Beasley’s positive outlook was put to the test on the field two seasons ago when he lost his starting job against the team he’ll face Friday.
“I was a sophomore and (then-defensive coordinator Bobby) Klinck pulled me,” Beasley said. “I was young and (Owasso’s offense was) just taking advantage of me. I just kept working. It’s like what Coach Blankenship teaches us now, you never know when your time is up.”
It came back up due to an injury and he has held on to the spot ever since.
“I looked at the bright side and realized that I just needed to work, stay patient and keep working,” he said.
And that’s what his team has to do now.
“This is a game that motivates me because it’s where I lost my job so I want to perform well,” Beasley said. “We have to stay positive.”