District 3A-8 preview: Stigler feels effects of tragedy

By Anthony Slater, Staff Writer, aslater@opubco.com Published: August 10, 2012
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With fall camp in its early stages, excitement sweeps the high school football landscape this time of year.

But not at Stigler High, where despite an impressive 10-2 season last year, preseason workouts have been clouded by an inescapable somber mood.


That's because three weeks ago, on July 20, Cory Cassinger, the team's projected starting center, was killed in a single-car accident just outside of Stigler. It is believed he fell asleep at the wheel.

“He was a big part of the team and the community,” coach Chris Risenhoover said. “So it's been a tough loss. He was very popular among his teammates and throughout the school.”

As a result of the tragedy, Risenhoover said the usual camp adrenaline has toned down.

“It's been a slow healing process and it will likely last beyond the football season,” Risenhoover said. “Many of them were very close to him.”

To honor Cassinger, Stigler will retire his number, and players will wear it on their helmets all season.

“Traditionally, our logos are panther claw marks on the side of the helmet,” Risenhoover said. “We aren't going to wear those this year. We are just going to wear the number 65 on the side of our helmets in honor of Cory.”

VALLIANT TRYING TO AVOID DOWN YEAR

Over the past six years, coach Brett Jones has turned the Valliant program into a respectable one.

Before 2006, the Bulldogs had never reached the second round of the playoffs, going a combined 1-19 the previous two years.

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District 3A-8 coaches' poll

1. Stigler (10-2)

2. Checotah (7-4)

3. Spiro (4-6)

4. Valliant (7-4)

5. Roland (6-4)

6. Heavener (4-6)

7. Eufaula (3-7)

8. Idabel (5-6)

Note: Last year's record in parentheses

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