With Langston missing the NAIA playoff cut, small college football in Oklahoma is officially done for the 2013 season. Only three of the state's 11 four-year small schools finished with a winning record — Langston at 6-4, Bacone at 7-4 and Southwestern State at 6-5. East Central salvaged a 5-5 season with a win in its season finale over Southeastern State.
The other seven programs are in face-lift mode, although Oklahoma Baptist, which played varsity football for the first time since 1940, is building more than rebuilding. The Bison, with just three seniors on its roster, did OK considering, finishing 3-8 with an opportunity to do better if not for mistakes that young college football players make.
*Former Northeastern State football coach Kenny Evans sent a release to the Muskogee Phoenix regarding his firing last Saturday after the RiverHawks beat Central Oklahoma. Evans said he was told 45 minutes after the win that he was being replaced.
“I was totally caught of guard ... I actually thought it was a joke at first,” Evans said. “I have not formally been given any explanation for this decision and really don't care as it is definitely evident NSU football is a lot better off now than when I started in 2008.”
Northeastern State finished 2-9; the RiverHawks were 22-44 in six years under Evans, which included a move to the brawny Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Northeastern State had the talent to do better this season, but starting quarterback Johnny Deaton, running back Joel Rockmore and 10 other starters were hurt. Deaton (broken leg) and Rockmore (knee) never returned after their early season injuries.
Evans said more than 30 freshmen saw game time this season.
Off the field, he said the football team's graduation rate was 32 percent before he was named head coach. The number increased to 70 percent during his tenure.
“I can't say enough about these players that I leave behind and hope they are given a fair chance to compete and develop in the future,” Evans said.
*Central Oklahoma running back Joshua Birmingham fell 85 yards shy of becoming the school's all-time rusher, but the four-year starter still finished as the career leader in five categories: carries (807); 50-plus-yard touchdown runs (8); touchdowns (64); points (384); and all-purpose yards (6,319). Birmingham had 4,276 yards rushing and 155 career receptions, both of which rank second in UCO history.
*Langston will be loaded on offense next season as it defends a Central States Football League championship. Quarterback Mark Wright Jr. will be a sophomore, and his top-three receivers, Sheldon Augustine, Cordara Frazier and Cedrick Jackson, were all underclassmen. Last Saturday, during a 33-0 win over Wayland Baptist, Langston used five running backs — Kenrick Robertson, Jawahn Hunt, D'Mark Collier, Taylor Berry and Jamil Hines — and all return next fall.