ANADARKO — When Kent Jackson returned to his hometown Anadarko in 2004, there was no positive way to describe the high school football program.
The Warriors were coming off a 2-8 season, and the program was basically in shambles.
The team did little work on the weekends during the season and little work during the summer.
The result was a program stuck in neutral, but something changed.
It was a few subtle changes, starting with an intense summer regimen coupled with some crazy talent and a stable homegrown coaching staff. The result is a football power that has risen from essentially nothing.
“Nobody would ever expect us to be like this because, you can look at our Wall of Gold, we've had in our 102 years of existence like 30 winning records total,” Jackson said. “We just have no tradition here, we have nothing to fall back on and everything we've done we're making history just about every week. It's a crazy deal.”
Anadarko, undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, will play in its third straight championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday when it meets No. 6 Poteau at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.
It's the culmination of an impressive run in which the Warriors have gone 53-2 since 2010, including winning the 2011 Class 3A championship.
“I think we'll really look back on it and be amazed by it later,” Jackson said. “When you're in the middle of it, you're like, ‘We've got to win the next one.'
“Sometimes I look back and think, ‘What in the hell are we doing?' This has been unbelievable that it's been this long.”
It all started with a seventh-grade class in 2006.
That class included stars such as Sheldon Wilson and Tyler Melton, and they brought needed change.
“I'm not going to lie, they were horrible (when I was in middle school),” Anadarko senior Mykel Shaw said about the varsity team. “Sheldon and them, they just changed everything around, they changed the work ethic and that's how you've got to work hard to get where we're at.”
That class spent extra time in the weight room and on the field. By the time they were sophomores in 2009, the wins started. They went 7-3 that season and just missed the playoffs.
The Warriors haven't missed the postseason since, or lost a home game. They went 12-1 in 2010, falling to Metro Christian in the quarterfinals before running the table the next season with Wilson and Co. as seniors.
“We made the playoffs before the big class got here (2007), but then all of a sudden that's what Tyler and Sheldon do,” Jackson said. “We're not coaching any different. We're not any smarter than we were eight years ago.”