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Eight-man football: Players in towns like Laverne, Tipton and Shattuck think like champions

MAKING OF A CHAMPION: ATTITUDE — Some teams just believe they are supposed to win. And it is a quality that seems most prevalent in eight-man football, where programs like Shattuck, Laverne, Cherokee and Tipton keep rolling along from year to year.
by Ed Godfrey Published: August 24, 2014
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photo - Laverne players celebrate their championship win by holding the trophy above their heads after it was awarded to them. With a decisive 42-12 win over Pond Creek-Hunter, the Laverne Tigers claimed the Class B  football championship title for the second consecutive year on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The game was played at Milam Stadium on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.   Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Laverne players celebrate their championship win by holding the trophy above their heads after it was awarded to them. With a decisive 42-12 win over Pond Creek-Hunter, the Laverne Tigers claimed the Class B football championship title for the second consecutive year on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The game was played at Milam Stadium on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Some teams just believe they are supposed to win. And it is a quality that seems most prevalent in the small schools that play eight-man football, where programs like Shattuck, Laverne, Cherokee and Tipton keep rolling along from year to year.

But just how valuable is that attitude? Does it really make difference when it comes to winning and losing? Laverne coach Tim Allen said it makes a big difference.

“I’ve been on both ends of it,” said Allen, whose club is the two-time defending state Class B champion and currently riding a 28-game winning streak, but his first year at the school was a winless season.

“Winning is a habit. Just like losing is,” Allen said.

The club’s recent success rubs off on current players, he said. No one wants to be the team that drops the ball. Even kids who have already graduated come back and help keep the current crop of Tigers on the right path.

“We just work hard,” Allen said. “Winning is a habit, just like losing is. The biggest thing I see is player commitment. And it starts in the weight room.”

Players are more diligent in the offseason about staying in shape, Allen said. They take more responsibility and hold others on the team accountable if they feel they are not working hard enough, he said.

“It seems like it’s kind of a struggle nowadays. Kids are so busy with so many things going on,” Allen said. “It’s really hard to get kids where they are very disciplined about the weight room and staying in physical condition and not having that break (in the summer).

“Our expectations and our work ethic have evolved into what it is today. We are going to play hard and do the things it takes in the offseason to play at a high level.”

Tipton is looking for its fourth straight trip to the state championship game this season. The attitude and expectations to win not only exists with the kids in the program, but with the people in the community, said Tipton coach Travis White.

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by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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