ADA — The Ada Cougars' 2012 football season covered the emotional spectrum.
The resurgence of the program to win its first district title since 2005 had the community buzzing with excitement, but a player's death in a motorcycle accident in November left a lasting pain with the players through the playoffs.
“It was one of those memorable seasons, with all that happened,” said Easton Pingleton, who was selected to The Oklahoman's All-State team as a kick returner.
“We were blowing teams out, and then we had the tragedy, and we came together as a family more than a team.”
Cody Johnson, 18, was a senior lineman for the Cougars. He died as the team was preparing for its first-round playoff game.
“Cody was the best guy you'd meet,” Pingleton said. “He put a smile on everybody's face. He was just nice to everybody.”
With No. 56 decals on their helmets in honor of Johnson, the Cougars reached the semifinals, where they lost to eventual Class 4A champion Clinton.
Through the good and the bad, Pingleton was reliable at receiver, defensive back and kick returner.
Not only did he become the season and career receiving record holder for catches, yards and touchdowns, he did it with flair.
Pingleton caught six touchdown passes in the first half against Glenpool. He had 210 yards receiving against Douglass with the district title on the line.
Most of the Ada receiving records he broke had been held by longtime NFL tight end Jeremy Shockey.
Pingleton finished the season with 86 catches for 1,430 yards and 20 touchdowns, along with two more touchdowns scored on interception returns, two on punt returns and one on a kickoff return. He also threw a 64-yard TD pass.
For his career, he had 147 catches for 2,478 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Pingleton credited his success to his connection with quarterback Wyatt Robson, who also set several passing records at Ada.
“Since ninth grade, we've been playing pitch-and-catch,” Pingleton said. “It's just like backyard football. We both have faith in each other. Wyatt knows he just has to put it close, and I know he's gonna put it close.”
A variety of Division II programs, like Central Oklahoma, East Central, and others have extended scholarship offers, but Pingleton, who has 4.3-second 40-yard dash speed, is hoping a Division I offer might still come.
Memphis, Houston, Arizona State and Tulsa have shown interest at times.
“I guess some players aren't the right fit for some people,” Pingleton said. “It's out of my hands now. I've done what I can do. The season's over. We'll see.”