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Oklahoma high school football: A look at the potential sites for state championship games

With the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association and Oklahoma State University not renewing their contract together to use the stadium, the future locations of the title games are up in the air. Still, the hope remains a new tradition and even more fan-focused atmosphere will emerge.
by Scott Wright and Jacob Unruh Published: June 22, 2014
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photo -  Edmond Santa Fe plays Yukon during a high school football game at the new stadium in Yukon, Okla., Friday, Sept. 9, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Edmond Santa Fe plays Yukon during a high school football game at the new stadium in Yukon, Okla., Friday, Sept. 9, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

There was once the hope that Boone Pickens Stadium would become the traditional location for all high school football championship games.

It would have been what the State Fair Arena is to the state basketball tournaments.

That time has passed.

With the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association and Oklahoma State University not renewing their contract together to use the stadium, the future locations of the title games are up in the air. Still, the hope remains a new tradition and even more fan-focused atmosphere will emerge.

“We just want to make this a great moment, a great experience for the kids, coaches and fans for everybody involved,” OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said. “We enjoyed our time up at Stillwater during the five years we were there, also understanding the issues they were dealing with it falling on Bedlam every single year and other things going on.

“Our experience was great, I hope it was great for our member kids who got to play on a premiere facility, but at the same time we understand logistically it didn’t always work out what was best sometimes.”

OSU has not been eliminated from the discussion for future games, but locations such as Yukon, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Moore and Cache now come into play.

The addition of a championship game with Class 6A being split into two divisions also has implications, though both games will be played on the usual weekend along with Class 5A and Class 4A.

Logistically and aesthetically, the games will look different moving forward.

There likely will no longer be thousands of empty seats during the game, bringing back a traditional Friday night experience.

Last season’s severe weather conditions forcing the OSSAA to move games to Moore and Cache served as a blueprint moving forward with strong attendance and a great atmosphere.

And perhaps a new addition will be added at the end of the games with each player being honored, something done in every other OSSAA-sanctioned sport.

“With football it gets kind of crazy and it would take some time, but is there a way to line them up and honor them individually, but still a situation where it doesn’t take you 45 minutes to do an awards presentation?” Sheakley said. “We’re trying to think of a better way to do our awards presentation at the end of the game.”

High school stadiums like Yukon, Moore become more viable options

In case you hadn’t noticed, the facilities war that engulfed college athletics over the last 20 years has stretched to the high school realm.

New stadiums at places like Yukon, Stillwater and Cache, along with significant upgrades at others, like Moore and Mustang, have made those locations viable — and perhaps even preferable in some instances — as state championship sites.

These stadiums are bringing the amenities of big college stadiums to a compact environment that produces a more exciting atmosphere.

Moore and Cache hosted the Class 2A and A title games, respectively, last year when weather forced the OSSAA to find alternate locations for some games. Each had an electric atmosphere with a capacity crowd.

Yukon and Moore have emerged as the two most notable stadiums in the Oklahoma City metro area. Both have large seating capacities, impressive locker rooms, video boards and large press boxes to accommodate a variety of media.

Stillwater has hosted eight-man title games in the past, and it still has one of the nicer high school stadiums in the state. Cache offers a high-quality venue in the Lawton area, and Tulsa has multiple high school stadiums capable of hosting a championship game.

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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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by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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