High schools: Star Spencer working toward a return to playoffs

Class 4A's state champion has missed the postseason the last two years.
by Scott Wright Published: October 14, 2012
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photo - Star Spencer's Marquise Vardiman (71) waves the flag of the Bobcats after the Class 4A high school football state championship game between Star Spencer and Douglass at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, December 5, 2009. Star Spencer won, 34-21. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
Star Spencer's Marquise Vardiman (71) waves the flag of the Bobcats after the Class 4A high school football state championship game between Star Spencer and Douglass at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, December 5, 2009. Star Spencer won, 34-21. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

SPENCER — It's hard to grasp the depth of the fall Star Spencer football experienced after 2009.

That year, the Bobcats were the best team in Class 4A — 12-2 record and state champions — and in the two seasons that followed, they barely avoided being Class 3A's worst team. They won one game in each 2010 and 2011, and don't even bother talking about the playoffs. They were not even close.

But finally, with some continuity at the head coaching position once again — the current seniors played for three different coaches their first three years — the Bobcats are showing signs of life again. Maybe enough to get them back in the postseason.

“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to go to the playoffs,” second-year coach James Harding said. “Last year, it was tough, because I was still hiring assistant coaches during the first week of fall camp. We were behind from the start.

“Everyone committed and bought in to what we want to do. They believe now.”

Star Spencer's playoff hopes received a boost Friday night with a 14-13 win over Newcastle in double-overtime. That moved the Bobcats' district record to 2-2, and they sit in fourth place with two district games left. The top-four teams in each district qualify for the postseason.

Star faces Bridge Creek in a nondistrict game this week, and then close the year with Centennial and Heritage Hall.

There are still too many scenarios left to figure out exactly what the Bobcats need to lock up a playoff spot, but they've put themselves in good position.

Friday's win was a big lift, because it showed Harding that his players could keep fighting through a tough situation.

A week earlier, Star stumbled in a game it know it could've won but lost 7-6 to Bethel. Against Newcastle, the game went to overtime tied at 6, and neither team scored in the first OT.

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by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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