High school football: Stigler, Ada playing through tragedy

Stigler and Ada are still playing while trying to deal with the deaths of players.
by Ed Godfrey Published: November 23, 2012
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Stigler has won two playoff games for the first time since 1965. Ada has won 19 state championships.

But both schools share something very similar this season. They have both faced tragedy.

Stigler, which plays at Kingfisher on Friday night in the Class 3A quarterfinals, has gone on a historic playoff run while dealing with the deaths of two players this season.

Ada's wound is more fresh, losing teammate Cody Johnson just last week in a motorcycle accident.

Edmond North coach Jeremy Dombek feels the pain of both Stigler coach Chris Risenhoover and Ada coach Matt Weber. Last year, Ryan Smith, a 16-year-old sophomore defensive lineman for the Huskies, died one day after breaking his leg at football practice.

It wasn't the first time Dombek had to grieve over the death of a player. It happened three times when he coached Plainview, where he lost two players in an automobile accident and another from a drowning.

“As coaches, those kids become your kids,” Dombek said. “No matter how many times you go through it, you can't prepare for it. My heart goes out to those coaches.”

Risenhoover said it's been difficult at times this season for the Panthers. Players were confused and hurt by the deaths of Cory Cassinger, who died in a single-car accident in July, and Gordon Parsons.

“I was thankful we had football season and we had practice and you had to go to work,” Risenhoover said. “That made it, I wouldn't say it easier, but it helped keep your mind off of it. I was just thankful we had the season.”

Stigler, a team with hopes of winning a district championship, had seemed to let that slip away with a Week 7 loss at Checotah. After that game, Risenhoover held a team meeting.

“There obviously wasn't a whole lot of pep earlier in the year,” Risenhoover said. “We just kind of had a Saturday meeting where we visited about how we were blowing a great opportunity.


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by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
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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