Ryan Corbin has endured the worst of times at Southwestern State. Knee surgery that wiped out a year of football. Four losing seasons.
That's why this fall is special. Corbin has saved his best for last. And the Bulldogs are flirting with success not seen in Weatherford for a while.
“Football is not meant to be perfect,” said Corbin, a fifth-year tight end. “A lot will go your way, and a lot will not go your way. That's the way it is. I accept that. But I'm an effort-kind-of-guy. If you keep giving good effort, it will pay off eventually.”
Southwestern State is 4-3 going into Saturday's 6 p.m. Great American Conference game against East Central (3-3) at Fast Lane Field in Weatherford. The Bulldogs and Bacone are the only small college teams in Oklahoma with a winning record. With four games left on the schedule — three of which Southwestern State should be favored — the Bulldogs might have its best season in years.
Corbin has been a big part of the rebuild, although a severe knee injury dashed his 2011 season. He received a medical redshirt, and intense rehabilitation was driven by people “doubting and questioning whether I would be able to come back and play. It made me work even harder to come back and show them.”
The Newcastle High product returned in 2012 and caught 47 passes for a team-best 400 yards, including one touchdown. This season, Corbin has 44 catches for a team-high 575 yards and four TDs. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder has played fullback a couple of times this season, and he has two TDs by rush.
Corbin's best game so far this season came Oct. 17 against Southeastern State in Durant. He had three touchdown catches, including a pair of 8-yarders in the fourth quarter that capped a big comeback. The Bulldogs won 37-27, and Corbin was named The Oklahoman's State College Football Player of the Week the following Tuesday.
“I just ran a couple of good routes and caught the ball,” Corbin said with a laugh. “It was great to win against a state rival. We don't like to lose in-state games. I hope we can do the same against East Central this week.”
* Northeastern A&M wraps up its 2013 season with a 1 p.m. game Saturday at Navarro in Corsicana, Texas. NEO (3-5) snapped a three-game skid a week ago with a 21-14 victory over Cisco (Texas). NEO is 1-4 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference and will not qualify for the league's playoffs.
* Bacone (5-2) cracked the NAIA rankings, coming in this week at No. 25. The Warriors are the first team rated by the NAIA this season since Langston opened at No. 23. Langston has since dropped out of the rankings, though voters did not consider the Lions' strength of nonconference schedule. The Lions host Oklahoma Baptist at 2 p.m. Saturday with a very deceptive 2-4 record. Expect the Nov. 9 game in Muskogee between Langston and Bacone to determine the Central States Football League champ.