District realignment has handed Adair a guaranteed shot at revenge.
After an undefeated run through 2A-8 last football season, the Warriors secured a top seed in the playoffs and held realistic goals of a state title.
But the dream was quickly cut short, abruptly ending in a stunning 19-13 overtime loss to Pawhuska in the first round.
“I mean, any time you are the one-seed, you expect to win,” Adair coach Mark Lippe said. “But I knew Pawhuska was a good team and they played a good game.”
Now, with lofty expectations heading into the 2012 season, Adair has been reassigned to District 2A-7. And awaiting them as a potential challenger and late-season opponent is the only team that beat them last year.
“We've used that first-round loss to Pawhuska to motivate us this summer to work hard,” Lippe said. “But as far as revenge, the most important game we have is the first game of the season. We can't look down the road.”
BUILT FOR 2012
Over the past few seasons, coach Wade Wolf has rebuilt the Chelsea program.
In 2008, the Dragons were an unimpressive 2-8. By 2011, Wolf had them in the playoffs for a second straight season, double the times they've been there in the past decade.
Next on his checklist – win a playoff game.
“Last year was a great year,” Wolf said. “We went 8-3 and made the playoffs again. But we aren't satisfied. The ultimate goal is to win the district and then go on and win a state championship. So anything short of that, you're not going to be completely satisfied.”
And the way Wolf's team is built, this could be the ideal season to take the next step.
Chelsea is returning 14 starters, seven on offense and seven on defense, including an experienced quarterback and cohesive offensive line.
“The main thing is having the experience, knowing what it's like in the tough games and in the playoffs,” Wolf said. “And like I said, we have the guys who have been there before.”
On the surface, some might brush off Nowata as a district afterthought.
But despite an 0-10 season last year, Nowata is a program to be feared. Or at least that's what Adair coach Mark Lippe said.
“That 0-10 season last year is not what Nowata football is all about,” Lippe warned. “Nowata has great tradition. They have a history of success and produce some good athletes. Always have athletes. Everyone looks at 0-10, but you can't get caught up in that. They will probably have the best athletes in our district.”
District 2A-7 coaches' poll
1. Pawhuska (7-6)
2. Adair (10-1)
3. Chelsea (8-3)
4. Nowata (0-10)
5. Caney Valley (5-5)
6. Oklahoma Union (2-9)
Note: Last season's record in parenthesis