Over the past few seasons, constant maneuvering has shuffled around the eight-man Oklahoma high school football districts.
With the dust finally settled after this year's moves, District C-4 has a new look. Southwest Covenant joins from C-3, and Thackerville, previously in C-2, comes with them, immediately vaulting to the district favorite.
Southwest Covenant coach Bill Martin said the fresh start provides an exciting opportunity.
“I don't know their coaching procedures or coaching theories, so it will be considerably different,” Martin said. “Should be a nice change.”
The only problem for Southwest Covenant, located in Mustang, is the travel. Several of the district's other teams are located in southern Oklahoma.
“The only rough part will be the driving,” Martin said. “That's a lot of miles and a lot of time.”
Last season, Martin decided to change the philosophy of the Southwest Covenant program.
In the past, Martin liked to go with an experienced leader at quarterback, starting seniors both of the previous seasons. But despite some success, he felt the constant change of leadership was stalling his team's growth.
So last year, Martin handed the head role to freshman Nick Sitton, expecting the talented youngster to grow into the role.
“We kind of made a commitment to that direction,” Martin said. “And we knew we'd have some growing pains along the way.”
In 2011, Sitton struggled to adjust. But his late-season development, along with other young players getting needed exposure, gives Martin some optimism.
“We are extremely young and that's just kind of the luck of the draw,” Martin said. “That's just the deal that we are kind of locked into. But if we can mature really fast and catch some teams on the right days, I think we have a really good chance at making the playoffs.”
RECLAIMING THE THRONE
During a wildly successful four-year stretch, spanning 2007-1010, Maud football won 39 consecutive district games and all four championships.
But last season, with many key contributors graduated, the rebuilt Tigers were hit with a sobering 5-6 season.
Maud started six freshman and only had two seniors on the roster.
“We kind of knew it was coming,” Maud coach Bruce Harrell said. “With all the inexperience we had, people were telling me before the season it would be great to win just a couple games.”
But the Tigers closed 2011 solid, winning two of their final three regular-season games and making a surprise playoff appearance.
And Harrell hopes that experience translates into 2012, with an older and more confident team trying to regain the championship it lost last year.
“I'm not sure if this team is capable or not yet,” Harrell said. “It's early, but I certainly think we have the potential and talent to do it.”
District C-4 coaches' poll
1. Thackerville (5-6)
2. Maud (5-6)
3. Arkoma (9-2)
4. Webbers Falls (9-2)
5. Southwest Covenant (2-7)
6. Sasakwa (1-9)
7. Midway (4-6)
8. Bokoshe (1-8)
Note: Last year's records in parentheses