ADA — It's been 16 years since Ada won a state football championship.
If you were talking about any other Oklahoma town, that sentence would bear little impact. It would hardly mean a thing.
In Ada, it resembles the longest state title drought in the program's history, dating back to when the OSSAA started recognizing champions in 1944.
That 16-year drought stretches back to the teams that won four straight from 1993-96, though it hasn't been all doom and gloom since then. There was a state finals appearance and an 11-win season along the way. But there have been a couple of five-win seasons as well, and in 2007, the Cougars missed the playoffs -- for the first time since 1982.
This year, however, the once-great program has sparked a renaissance of sorts. With a 26-21 win at Douglass last Friday, the Cougars capped a 10-0 season and won their first district championship since 2005, reviving emotions of Ada's glorious past.
“We know Ada's tradition, and we know it's our job to protect it,” senior Easton Pingleton said. “We're trying to do the best we can to get this program back to the top of the state again.”
The Cougars have been on the right track under coach Matt Weber, reaching the playoffs every year since he took over in 2008, and the return to Class 4A this season provided a boost as well.
Like Ada's legendary McBroom family of coaches, who kept the Ada football fire burning white-hot for decades, Weber comes from a well-respected coaching family.
His father, Joe Weber, guided Davis to a pair of state titles during a long run of success. And his brother is current Davis coach Jody Weber, who picked up where Joe left off, including a 10-0 regular season this year as well.
Matt is winning football games in a different style than Ada's past, with a no-huddle, spread offense that slings the ball all over the field.
Quarterback Wyatt Robson set the school's career passing record this season, and he's still going, after throwing for 306 yards against Douglass last week. Pingleton has been on the radar of Division I colleges as a receiver and defensive back.
“I think we're heading in the right direction,” Matt Weber said. “At Ada, it's not considered back to where it was until you win the gold ball.
“But I'm proud. The reason we're winning is because we have good football players. Coaching is way overrated. You've got to have good players to win 10 games.”
The Cougars will host Woodward Friday night to open the Class 4A playoffs, trying to add to their all-time win total of 760, which is one behind Clinton for the most in state history.
“Football is the heartbeat of our town,” Weber said. “The town is really excited, and the kids are working hard, so we're excited.”
With 19 state titles in all, Ada didn't win its first until 1951, the eighth year of the OSSAA's records. And the Cougars had a pair of five-year droughts — one in the 1970s and another in the '80s — that must've felt like decades at the time.
But there were periods in recent seasons when it seemed like Ada was slipping into a rut of mediocrity. Yet with the celebration of last week's district championship, it's clear that the fires of Ada football past still burn, even if the flames can't always be seen.
“When all these older guys who played in the '80s and in the '70s come up to you and tell you ‘Good job,' and that they're proud of you, it means a lot,” Robson said. “It means a lot to this school and this community.
“We hear from guys like that all the time nowadays. I think they're happy that it's getting back to what it used to be.”
Fans pick Deer Creek's Sander as Player of the Week
With all the drama of Election Day and none of the standing in line to vote, Deer Creek's Caden Sander came out on top of the NewsOK Varsity Oklahoma City-area Football Player of the Week fan poll.
Sander had two crucial interceptions in the final nine minutes to help the Antlers seal a 25-12 win over McGuinness to earn the District 5A-2 championship.
Here are the final results:
Caden Sander, Deer Creek: 804 votes (40.7 pct.)
Jesse Gregory, Tuttle: 739 votes (37.4 pct.)
Holden Baker, Mount St. Mary: 276 votes (14.0 pct.)
John Jacobs, Shawnee: 116 votes (5.9 pct.)
Tre Edwards, Southmoore: 40 votes (2.0 pct.)
Total: 1,975 votes