“We haven't lost a home regular-season game since 2008,” Jones said. “So we've done some good things, but never really gotten on that streak in the playoffs that we would like. Been very competitive, just haven't busted through that door.”
But making that next step may be a stiff task in 2012.
The Panthers lost 16 seniors, accounting for a bulk of their production, and return only one starter on offense.
Jones likes his young core, but it's one that may need time to grow.
“We never like to say the word rebuilding around here,” Jones said. “We've had a good program the past six years and done some good things. So you'd like to think we've built it to a sustainable level. Hopefully our young guys can step up and pick up where the others left off.”
With Seminole, last year's district winner, reassigned to 3A-2, District 3A-8 is wide open this year.
Stigler, 6-1 in league play last year, slides into the roll of favorite, but a cluster of teams are capable of capturing the unclaimed throne.
Last season, seven of the eight league teams won at least four games.
“I'm excited about the district,” Jones said. “Should be a competitive year.”
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