By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
The high school football season finally came to a close Thursday, delayed a week by the threat of winter weather, and while the wait had to be frustrating for teams in the playoffs, it concluded on a very positive note for our area, reflecting the strength of prep football in northwest Oklahoma.
With its victory Thursday (in a game ironically moved up two days due to more dire predictions of winter precipitation), Kingfisher delivered the final piece in our area’s trifecta of prep football titles, joining 8-man powers Laverne and Cherokee, which had claimed the gold ball in Class B and Class C on Dec. 14 in Weatherford. The three champs compiled a combined record of 41-0, with all three completing undefeated seasons.
For Kingfisher head coach Jeff Myers, it was his first gold ball after coming up short in his four previous trips to the title game. Making this one more sweet was the fact the Yellowjackets were able to exact a measure of revenge for last year’s heartbreaking 28-21 loss to Blanchard in the title game by defeating the Lions 30-23 in a rematch of the Class 3A title game from last season.
In the process, sophomore Nick Smith had a performance for the record books, scoring all 30 points on touchdown runs of 75, 36, 83 and 25 yards. He also kicked three extra points and a 35-yard field goal. Smith rushed for 231 yards on just 10 carries as the Jackets used standout Landon Nault — who entered the game with 2,266 yards rushing and was one of six national Wendy’s Heisman High School finalists — primarily as a decoy, knowing the Lions were geared toward stopping Nault. The plan could not have worked much better.
And though he likely won’t admit it, Myers’ win also probably came with a bit of relief as he no longer will have to answer questions about the frustration of four finals losses. Much to his credit, he always addressed the issue in a pleasant and forthright manner.
“Those silver balls (runner-up trophies) finally have some company in the trophy case,” Myers said after the game. “Except this time it’s a gold one.”
Myers still will have to answer championship game questions, except this time, with a gold ball finally secured, it won’t be about the near-misses. One suspects that will be a topic he won’t tire of addressing.
Poor Enid High School. Weather and football have combined to put a significant crimp in EHS’ home schedule basketball this season.
With the brand spanking-new Enid Event Center open and ready to accommodate the previously nomadic Enid Plainsmen (0-5) and Pacers (4-1) with a new home, the home portion of the hoops schedule has been absolutely decimated by unfortunate circumstances.
Their originally scheduled opener would also have been the debut of high school hoops at the Enid Event Center, but was rescheduled when Lawton begged out due to the fact its football team still was in the 6A football playoff (Lawton was eliminated the next week). It pushed Enid’s Event Center opener back to Dec. 6 against Elk City, in which the Pacers won but the Plainsmen fell.
Then, this past Friday, Enid finally was returning home after several road games, but those games were canceled when Lawton Eisenhower decided not to make the trek to Enid due to forecasts of icy travel. Friday’s games also were to have been Enid’s basketball homecoming.
The most recent cancelation means Enid will not play its second home game until Jan. 17 against Ponca City.
Here’s to hoping Mother Nature will cooperate by staying away the rest of the season, at least on home dates. She’s had her fun, it’s time to let Big Blue finally begin to enjoy their new home digs. The kids deserve it.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com