It’s fitting that Muskogee should enter the strangest of all postseasons on Friday the 13th.
Not only is it a postseason where teams like the Roughers who are still in search of their first wins of the year are part of the party, but especially for the local guys, it’s been a season so 2020, a year full of bad luck that has multiplied as it progressed.
For three Roughers, three cornerstones to the hopes of this season, this couldn’t be more true.
Start with Darian Davis.
Back in December during wrestling season, Davis suffered a partial tear of the labrum in his left shoulder. An MRI scheduled for January was postponed to March, he said. By the time of the MRI, COVID put the squeeze on elective surgeries, he noted, so the procedure was put off.
Davis hoped to battle through with physical therapy, extra padding, and a brace. With the off-season restricted to conditioning and limited contact, it seemed it might work.
It lasted as long as the first scrimmage at Jenks.
“The first play, when I landed it on it wrong trying to make a tackle,” he said. “The second time I hit someone making a tackle.”
Done, just like that, in a year he was expected to draw some college attention having made the move from safety to linebacker.
“It’s not looking too good because I don’t have anything to show them (at linebacker) this year,” he said about his prospects.
To make matters worse, he’s had to watch his teammates struggle week in, week out.
“It’s just been a roller coaster year and I hate to have to see them going through what they’ve gone through,” he said, noting that he’s found a contributing niche by occasionally helping in the filming of practice for instructional purposes.
Davis can only hope for a miracle connection. Meanwhile, he won’t wrestle this year. He hopes to try his hand at soccer in the spring.
“I played almost every position in soccer before I got in high school but haven’t played it since,” he said.
Caleb Webb’s year turned on the first series of the first regular season game.
“The play was over, the quarterback was tackled and went helmet first into my knee,” he recalled of the moment against Bishop McGuinnness.
Webb tried to go back in a quarter later.
“I tried to plant and go and I couldn’t move it, it was like I was stuck and couldn’t do anything,” he said.
He had it checked out by a physician.
“They didn’t think it was serious. I kept it iced and I had a brace,” Webb said.
At Coweta three weeks later that brace, he said, assisted in finishing his season.
“It had a metal hinge in it that I’d get banged up and the hinge would hit the spot that hurt,” he said. “One play I got hit really hard and I couldn’t go any more.”
Another look found a torn MCL and cartilage damage. He had surgery in October. He returned to the sideline the first time in a wheelchair. “They didn’t think I could make it across the field in crutches,” he said.
It’s been an emotional time.
“I’m not a watcher. I like being out there with my guys playing, practicing and having fun,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep a straight face when people come up to me but I’m not going to lie. I’ve cried fully twice in front of people and other times alone just thinking about how much I wish I was out there playing.”
He’s taken on a role of an in-game peer consultant of sorts for fellow linebackers.
“It might not show but they’re giving the best they can,” he said. “It’s not easy winning games with the breaks we’ve had.”
Weber State, NSU, UTSA, New Mexico, Arkansas Tech, Southwestern and East Central had all offered Webb prior to the injury. He never committed to any. He said they’ve kept in touch, encouraging him to take it one day at a time and heal fully. Recruiting has its uncertainties anyway with the pandemic canceling or postponing seasons, particularly at the Division II level.
Whatever happens to those, Webb hopes to play his senior season of baseball.
“The doc says I should be ready for that, but if I don’t think I’m ready and good enough to help, I’ll just go focus on getting better for football but be there to support my teammates,” he said.
Ty Williams had more than 20 offers but had settled on one — Oklahoma State — when he was doing relay drills in July and pulled a hamstring.
“It was a lot of tension and I couldn’t run or jog,” he said.
He took it slow, doing physical therapy, and a month later, played at the Jenks scrimmage.
“I finished the first half and the trainer took me out,” he said.
Williams wouldn’t return to the field until the final non-district game against Coweta. Late in the first half, he pulled up after scrambling and getting flagged for intentional grounding. He stayed in one play and tossed a third-down pass that fluttered to the turf, went to the sidelines, and never returned.
It was diagnosed as a near grade three tear of the hamstring.
Sophomore Walker Newton took over for Williams at quarterback.
“I’ve tried to help him. I could identify with him because I also started as a sophomore,” Williams said. “He’s not as big as me but he’s progressing. I think he’ll turn out to be a good leader.”
COVID-19 kept the kid being recruited as a safety from having any of his official visits, including one to Oregon. He’s satisfied with his decision to commit to Oklahoma State, though.
Neither Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy nor any staff got a final look at him as a senior. At least not yet. He’s back to 80 percent and is actually practicing this week, hoping to see action against Midwest City tonight.
“No telling if there’d been other officers,” he said. “Once COVID happened a lot of things changed with visits and stuff. I’m frustrated because I wanted to see if I could top last year’s interception total (nine). And I feel bad because some of the schools that were coming were not just exposure for me but also some of our other guys.”
Meanwhile, he’s planning on trying other sports to cap his senior year, including swimming.
“People don’t want me to play other sports but I’m not one for listening to the critics,” he said.
A first-time swimmer?
2020 has seen crazier things.
So a return to action, or even a first win coming in a playoff game, would fit right in.