McALESTER — Back when Tony Kiefer was only in junior high, McAlester football coach Bryan Pratt recognized the impact the youngster would eventually have for the Buffaloes.
“We've been molding Tony for quite some time, because we knew since he was in junior high that he was gonna be a really good quarterback,” Pratt said. “We tried to not put too much on him when he started as a sophomore. We didn't play him much on defense. He grew a lot.”
Twelve thousand total yards later, Kiefer closed an outstanding career by taking the Buffs to the Class 5A semifinals and earning a spot on The Oklahoman's All-State first team.
He was selected to the team as a punter, where he averaged better than 36 yards per punt, but his biggest impact for McAlester came at quarterback, where he threw for 3,523 yards with 37 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He rushed for 1,457 yards and 27 touchdowns, surpassing the 12,000-total yard mark for his career.
Despite the huge numbers, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Kiefer didn't draw major college attention — and he knows why.
“I know I put up stats, but I'm gonna have to go a different way to get a D-I look because of my size,” he said. “If I was 6-2, I probably would have gotten better looks. But I'm gonna do whatever it takes to get to that level.”
Early in his varsity career, Kiefer gained a reputation as a talented running quarterback, accounting for nearly 2,000 yards on the ground as a sophomore. But Pratt says he saw that great runner develop into a great quarterback over the next two years.
“He wasn't a great passer then, but he was always a great competitor and he gave it everything he had,” the coach said. “At that time, if it wasn't open, he'd tuck it and run, but now, he has developed into a true quarterback.
“He understands how to move in the pocket. He can make things happen with his head more than with his feet. It's made him a great player.”
For all the accolades Kiefer received and all the big games he won, Kiefer says the district championship in his senior season was his most memorable moment.
“Winning the district was a big deal, because we hadn't done it in about a decade,” Kiefer said. “We never lost to our rival. We never lost a home game. That was a big deal in our town. It was huge to be district champions.”