Thursday, December 16, 2010

LCT seeds

The official seeding of the upcoming LeFlore County Tournament was decided in a meeting Wednesday night.

As you may recall, I tried to predict the seedings in a blog yesterday.

For the most part, I did okay. I was pretty close to money on the boys, only missing four seeds. I had Heavener third and Spiro fourth while the coaches flip-flopped those two. I also had Wister sixth and Panama seventh, which was reversed in the official seeding.

On the girls, I was not nearly as good. I expected Howe to get the top seed with Heavener second but the coaches had Heavener on top and Howe second. The big surprise was Spiro’s girls got the third seed while I expected the Lady Bulldogs to be eighth. Talihina also came in at fourth while I thought the Lady Tigers would be fifth.

I thought Bokoshe would be third and Whitesboro fourth based on records and rankings. Bokoshe wound up fifth while Whitesboro is seventh. Wister was sixth in the seedings while I thought the Lady Wildcats would be seventh.

Poteau was eighth (I had the Lady Pirates at sixth). LeFlore and Cameron were ahead of Pocola for the tournament while I had the Lady Indians ahead of those two.

No complaints. The coaches did a good job as usual. As you may know, the finals will be held in Spiro. Other games will be held at Panama and Heavener. CASC will not host any games for the first time in longer than I can remember.

The top three teams get byes during the first round. Here are the first-round matchups for the boys:

Heavener vs. Bokoshe; Cameron vs. LeFlore; Panama vs. Pocola; Wister vs. Whitesboro; and Arkoma against Howe.

Should be some pretty good games. Panama and Pocola will be good, no matter what the seedings or records say. Also, the Arkoma and Howe game should be a good one. Then, in the second round, Talihina faces either Arkoma or Howe; Poteau takes on the Wister/Whitesboro winner; Spiro meets Panama or Pocola while the winner of Heavener/Bokoshe takes on Cameron or LeFlore.

Here are the games for the girls: Talihina vs. Arkoma; Bokoshe vs. Pocola; Wister vs. Cameron; Whitesboro vs. LeFlore; and Poteau vs. Panama.

And in the second round, Heavener will play the winner of Panama/Pocola; Howe faces off against either Whitesboro or LeFlore; Spiro takes on Wister or Cameron; and Talihina plays either Bokoshe or Pocola.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seeding the county teams

Tonight is a big night for basketball players, coaches and fans in LeFlore County.

The high school basketball teams will be seeded for the upcoming LeFlore County Tournament to be held Jan. 17 through Jan. 22 with the finals to be held at Spiro.

About the only sure thing about the seeding is Talihina’s boys will be the top seed for the boys. After that, it is a coin flip. Talihina’s boys and Heavener’s girls will be defending their championships.

And out of the goodness of my heart, I will give you what I expect will be the seedings for the LCT.

First off, for the girls.

Heavener and Howe will be the top two seeds, although it could go either way. Both teams have one loss from last week in tournament games.

I think Howe will be awarded the top seed with Heavener second. The next few seeds will be a tough call but based on the records and rankings, Bokoshe will be third and Whitesboro fourth. Talihina is the fifth seed followed by Poteau and Wister.

For the eighth seed, my guess is Spiro with Panama ninth and Pocola 10th. LeFlore is 11th followed by Cameron and Arkoma.

On the boys’ side, Talihina is an easy choice as the top seed followed by Poteau and Heavener. The Pirates handed the Wolves their only loss and deserve a better seeding based on the head-to-head meeting.

Spiro is fourth followed by Cameron in fifth and Wister sixth. Cameron and Wister have split their two meetings with the Jackets winning by a larger margin at home for the difference. An improving Panama team is seventh followed by Arkoma at eight.

The ninth seed will likely be Howe with Whitesboro and Pocola following. LeFlore and Bokoshe will probably be the two bottom seeds.

As a disclaimer, this does not necessarily reflect the best teams in the county, just how I feel they will be seeded. For instance, I believe Poteau's girls are better than some of the teams ranked above them, but the Lady Pirates have only one win. They have also played a difficult schedule, which should help them in the county tournament. Another team which could cause problems is the Spiro girls, which have most of their players back from last year but got a late start because of the football playoffs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Molly's big day!

It’s worry day in the house of Craig.

Our puppy Molly is getting her first hair cut! Yes, she is seven months old know and in definite need of a trim.

But still, I wonder…will she be okay? Will she cry? Will she come out of the haircut with some silly bandana or bow in her hair? Will I actually be able to see her eyes after this? And…just how much is this going to set me back?

I am not used to having a dog who needs haircuts. Most of my dogs have typically had short hair. And no, it is not necessary for any of you reading this to say something like “at least they had hair!” Ha ha.

This is a new experience for Molly and me. It’s almost like a child getting the first do...or don’t. Should I ask for a lock of her hair that has been shorn? Probably not, I could always find some in the corner of some room from where she has shed.

I also wonder how she will like her new haircut, or will she notice. Will Molly (like some female people I know who will remain nameless) expect everybody to make a big fuss about her style? Does she expect the grandparents to come over to check out her new style? Are pictures required?

Probably not. Molly does not worry about her hair that much. She is okay with baths, but don’t bring a hairdryer anywhere close to her. Molly does not like the air blowing on her. The brush is not her favorite object either.

Must be something about all the hair tied together, plus she would rather play with the brush.

I feel sorry for the dog groomer. Hopefully I can pay before she takes on Molly. I fear afterwards, the price will double and Molly will be on the dreaded Do Not Groom list.

We have had Molly since August. She has almost doubled in size and not lost any of her attitude. Molly expects everything to revolve around her and she wants to be involved in whatever is happening.

If I go somewhere, by gosh, Molly thinks she should go and pouts and cries if she can’t. This does not apply to my going to work. I have a feeling she goes back to sleep so she will be wide awake when I get home.

I must admit, my work output at home has dropped considerably since the arrival of Molly. She does not feel like I should be sitting in front of the computer. I should be throwing her toy or petting her. If she is being ignored, Molly barks, scratches my leg or finds something that will show her irritation. That reminds me of some…never mind.

Lately, I have been buying her these monster chew sticks to try and keep her at bay while I work. The little ones just don’t work. For Molly, size does matter and…wait, that did not sound right. Let’s just say she loses her little chew toys, okay?

So when I get home from work this evening sometime after 5:30 (you know, after it is dark!), I will get to see a new Molly. Maybe she will come with a new attitude. But I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Should be a good year in basketball

The old oblong-shaped ball has been put away for the season and it is now time to turn our attention to basketball.

This should be another great year of basketball in the county, even better than last year.

Overall, most of the county teams should be better, at least for the boys. Many of the better girls from last year are now gone and the battle for the top girls team is wide open. But more about that shortly.

For the boys, there is once again one big powerhouse in Talihina with FOUR starters back off last year’s team which made it to the state finals before losing to Pawnee by one point in overtime.

I expect the Tigers to be back in Oklahoma City again, but this time it isn’t Pawnee Talihina will have to be worried about. Perennial power OKC Millwood has dropped to 2A and will be the Tigers’ biggest challenger.

In the battle for county’s finest, Talihina (#2 in 2A) will have some competition. Poteau should be better, especially after two of its better players are back. Last year, I expected Poteau to battle Talihina for the county title but the Pirates could never get past Spiro, losing all three times to the Bulldogs.

Spiro will once again be good, as usual, featuring a team once again that has more speed than any other one in the county.

Heavener is expected to be better with Koda Glover, one of the better shooters in the county, along with a standout class of sophomores and a starting lineup that will have three players at least 6-3.

Wister, Cameron and Arkoma are also improved and have a shot at going deep in the county tournament. Pocola lost most of its team from last year, as did Panama. Whitesboro is better while LeFlore and Bokoshe have both struggled.

For the girls, there are no clear-cut favorites. Howe (#16 in 2A) is undefeated and has to be considered the favorite with its deep bench and inside power, but Heavener (17th in 3A) has three starters back from a team which almost made the state tournament.

The Lady Wolves feature one of the best players in the county in Skylar Cooper and enough returners to face up to any team in the county.

Poteau and Spiro will be improved with most of its team back and playing under new coaches. Taylor Martindale is apparently sitting out the season at Pocola, a definite setback to the young Lady Indians.

Panama lost some key players from last year, while among the small schools, Bokoshe is ranked in the top 10 and Whitesboro has only one loss, to top-ranked Red Oak and is 16th in Class B.

Wister and Talihina have most of its team back and should be greatly improved. Cameron, Arkoma and LeFlore have struggled so far, but all three teams should improve throughout the season.

The bigger schools are tipping off this week, so get ready for a long, but good season of basketball in the county

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The official TU vs. Rice blog!

On Saturday, the one and only Coach Andy Perdue and I made our way to Tulsa to watch the Golden Hurricane play Rice.

This was the first college game I have been at in some 15 years as my preferred method of watching college football is sprawled out on the old coach since: 1. I am usually the only obnoxious fan in the vicinity; 2. The bathroom is roughly 10 feet away and never a line to wait in!; 3. No driving and traffic!; 4. I can sit down and watch the game on a comfortable seating place without having to stand the whole game; 5. food and drinks are close and very affordable.

But I found out an old buddy Ron Mears was now on the sports information staff at Rice and got in touch with him. He happened to mention that Rice was coming to Tulsa and Ron got me sideline passes to take pictures for Rice Sports Information.

So the Coach Ed and I made our way out fairly early Saturday morning, packed up with my aging laptop and camera equipment. This trip was our first one since the famous trip to Hennessey last year for a Talihina playoff game. The trip was fairly routine, the biggest surprise was that he could get driving directions on Google Maps once we hit Tulsa and the 3G kicked in.

We found the stadium and drove past a lot of people wanting us to pay to park, as if. We turned right at the stadium and found a spot only about a football field away, in front of some person’s house. I carefully avoided the driveway and made sure there were not any “No Parking, Idiot!” signs and parked.

We made our way to H.A. Chapman Stadium. The last time I was at what used to be called Skelly Stadium, it was a dump. Chapman Stadium was much nicer. Honest. The Chapman family must have been loaded.

Our passes were clear at the other end of the stadium. As we entereed the stadium, the attendant made us open the computer and camera bag, but thankfully passed on the body search and we were in!

Andy and I made it to the press box after a lengthy wait at the elevator, one that was worth it since the press box was four floors up. I was wearing one of my Journal t-shirts and while riding the elevator, a writer from the Tulsa World looked down to read my shirt.

I could tell he wanted to say “Wow, you’re with the LeFlore County Journal!” or “What the _ _ _ _ is the LeFlore County Journal?”

We found my old OSU buddy Ron and since we had not seen each other for some 20 years, endured an awkward man hug.

We talked for a few minutes and found the food. After chowing down, we made our way to the field and tried to get Poteau’s Garrett Klutts to look our way. He is a freshman playing footbal for TU. He didn’t look our way, so we walked around and as I was trying to take a picture of TU’s band, the cheerleaders rudely got in my way and ruined the picture as you can see on the right.

We did get a picture of Garrett as TU was coming out on the field and later on the sidelines.

Rice jumped ahead early and then it was all TU. While standing on the Rice sidelines, we were not exactly entertained by the people behind the visitor's bench. This one fat kid who looked like Bobby from King of the Hill, was more concerned with shouting insults at the Rice players. I thought he needed a good spanking. So did the adults alongside him.

Another scrawny kid who looked like he probably liked to eat boogers, saw me taking a picture of the Rice coach. “Hey, you’re taking a picture of Rice!” like it was a crime.

A mature Craigman would have ignored the statement, of course, instead of saying “better than taking pictures of you.”

There were plenty of other adults being just as rude. I wondered what made a person be this ignorant. I seriously doubt they would dare shout some of the things they did if they were face to face with the players. One obnoxious TU student, who acted rather drunk and looked like he had never stepped foot on a football field, was on the Rice guys hard.

I wanted to mention something to him, but didn’t want Andy and myself to have to take on an entire section of drunk college kids and embarrass them with a whipping.

The weather was great. I kept hoping we would somehow appear on the jumbotron so I could take a picture of us on the jumbotron, but it didn’t happen.

We went back to the pressbox at halftime for more nourishment and to download the pictures and give them to Ron. Still plenty of food and diet pop!

The game continued to be a blowout. We enjoyed the second half from the pressbox and Ron asked if I got a picture of Rice’s best running back, who just happened to be having a career game.

“Uh, no,” I said. Heck, I had plenty of pictures of Tulsa, including the one on the left I was fairly proud of. But the Rice guys just weren’t doing a whole lot. He didn’t seem to be too upset. We said our farewells with a couple of minutes left and actually made it home in time for the OU game.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sad night for many

Friday night will be a good night for many LeFlore County seniors.

For others, it will be a sad night.

Some of our seniors from Spiro and Talihina (and maybe Arkoma) will get to play at least one more game in the playoffs next week.

For the seniors from Bokoshe, Heavener, Panama, Pocola and Poteau, this will end the football playing days.

A few seniors might get to play at the next level, but most of them will take off the pads one last time.

These players have played, practiced and prepared for years. Now, all they will have are the memories, both good and bad.

It shouldn’t be this way, but playing high school football will be one of the highlights of their lives, whether they play on a good team or a bad one.

That certainly was the way I felt of it. For 30 years, I have wished for a chance to go back and play one final game (or season!) There is no way that is going to happen, especially when one is close to half a century old.

We were not that good my senior year, finishing 3-7. I still remember who we played and could come up with the scores if I had to. Our final game was at home against Stigler. The Panthers were going to the playoffs, we weren’t.

But we wanted to go out with a bang. The first play of the game, we ran a reverse and Joe Westfall ran down to the Stigler 5. We scored a couple of plays later and actually led.

Stigler came back to take the lead, but we had the chance to score right before halftime, but one quarterback who just happens to be writing this blog, was stopped short of the end zone. Stigler added another touchdown and the end quickly approached.

The game was over and so was my playing days. I was okay until we got in the locker room and started taking off the pads one final time. That was when it hit me. We would never do this again. I didn’t much care for some aspects of football, such as wind sprints or practicing when it was over 100 degrees.

But we were part of something special. Our small group of seniors had been doing this for five years, forming bonds that will last until the day we die. We fought together and celebrated together. Yes, there are times better, but not many.

I remember so well running on to the field before games with everybody on our side of the field standing and clapping and the band playing Allegiance (which was our school song).

I remember the bad times (like getting thumped by Vian that senior year) along with actually taking the lead in our game against Poteau, the first time that had happened in my varsity career.

I also remember one of my best friends, Marty Hinds, tearing up his knee in a pre-season scrimmage and realizing that all those miles we ran in the blazing summer heat and all those weights he had lifted, were all for naught. Number 51 would have to watch it all from the sidelines.

There is no feeling quite like this. So for you seniors playing for the final time tomorrow night, relish the memory and go out like a champion.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election is finally over

The long election is over. Finally. Candidates and supporters have spent well over a year getting ready for yesterday’s election.

There were plenty of winners, some that fell short and lots of people who were happy while many others sad.

As the election ended, we have many new faces representing our county and area.

James Lockhart rose from a political newcomer to capture the house seat over Roger Mattox. It was a hard and long journey for the Heavener resident. When he first decided to run, his friends had a good time with his decision.

He showed that hard work still means something, campaigning for some 18 months. He wore out the tires on his truck, visited with as many people as possible and beat a capable opponent in Roger Mattox.

There was a surprise in the senate race as Mark Allen defeated former representative Neil Brannon, relying on his strength in Sequoyah County. Brannon easily won LeFlore County but came up short overall as Allen’s support from up north made the difference.

For district judge, Marion Fry won Latimer County but Jon Sullivan was elected by winning the other two counties.

Kenneth Corn lost in his campaign for Lieutenant Governor, falling to Todd Lamb in a battle between two former senators.

We also have two new county commissioners as Derwin Gist won the Dist. 1 position and Ceb Scott carried Dist. 3.

All the attention was focused on the candidates. But we also need to remember everybody on the election board and the people who worked at the precincts, long hours with little pay.

This was the third time I have sat in on an election at the LeFlore County Election Board. The previous two were busy, but nothing like this election with the local and regional elections, along with state elections.

I started out able to keep up to date but that soon ended when the precincts started coming in, most within a 30-minute time frame. Supporters of the various campaigns were dropping by to get some information and three precincts had trouble with their ballot boxes, making it necessary to do a recount at the election board.

One of the precincts was off by one vote. But the staff still followed procedures to recount all the votes, not that one vote would have mattered.

Now it is a time for us to come together, whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or something in between or on the outside of those parties. The people have spoken. It might not be the result you were looking for, but we still need to support all our representatives.

Oklahoma and LeFlore County are going through a tough time and it is expected to get worse. This is not a good time to be an elected official. I would not want to be a senator or representative, and not just because I would not enjoy the whole kissing baby thing. There are tough decisions that will have to be made. Everybody will be fighting for this and that. Hopefully our elected officials can do the right thing and fight for what is right, not support the groups or individuals that helped get them elected.

So congratulations James Lockhart, Mark Allen, Jon Sullivan, Derwin Gist and Ceb Scott. And thanks to Roger Mattox, Neil Brannon, Marion Fry, Ike Davis and Bobby McKenzie.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thankfully, election is here

The home phone rings again!

Ugh. I am busy watching television, eating or working on the computer when the cursed home phone rings. Typically, we don’t answer the home phone because it’s usually somebody trying to sell us some crud we don’t need or want.

Over the last few days, it has been recorded phone calls of politicians asking us to vote for them. Or actual people calling to ask for me to vote for this candidate or another. Double ugh.

It’s bad enough we have to put up with the politician’s pollution campaign ads everywhere we look, but we also have to be bothered at home?

I can just imagine the conversation where the brilliant idea came about to call people at home and ask for their vote.

“Hey, I know!” said one campaign staffer to the other. “We can get a recorded message of our candidate and hammer all the people with phone calls on the answering machines!”

“You sure that is a good idea?” asked the other, more sensible campaign staffer. “Some people probably won’t like it.”

“Oh, they will be fine and feel honored to receive a phone call from a politician!”

Uh, not hardly. I came home from lunch earlier and scratched off two more candidates off the list of people I was considering voting for. I have scratched off all of them except for one local candidate who did the phone nazi thing and left a recorded message. But I did chide him and I will vote for him.

We have also had a bunch of people come by the house with campaign literature asking us to vote for somebody. I always make sure to think green and promptly put the brochure in the recycling bin.

A candidate is much more likely to get my vote by being honest with the people, not promising to do this and that when they are one person, probably a new politician with not even as much power as the person who hands out soap towels in the bathroom.

If it wasn’t so silly, maybe it would not bother me as much. Practically 99.9 percent of the candidates promise NEW and BETTER jobs, lower taxes, better education, etc. Might as well throw in a theme park promise for the greater Bokoshe metropolitan area. All those stand about the same chance of passing.

Yes, we want lower taxes. But like one candidate who I respect said, “Everybody wants less taxes, but what do you want to cut?”

How about aid to people who could work but prefer to sip off the government’s you know what. Typically, most people don’t want to give up anything. Let the great unwashed masses from up north and out west give up stuff. Don’t give me any of this JFK “Don’t ask what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Or state, or county, or city.

Finally, the election is here. I must admit that the political ads have been very nice and I don’t have a problem with most of the local candidates.
But still, I wonder why somebody would want to run (see the no power comment above) and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to gain a position that does not pay all that great. Is it ego? Are they power hungry? Or did they make a bet and lose it?

Then again, maybe I am wrong. It won’t be the first time or the last.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Remembering the Heavener Lightning

Many times, an old picture will pop up on one of the social media sites that you wish had been destroyed many years ago.

That wasn’t the case on a picture that I was tagged in on facebook the other day. The picture was from 1982 and was of the Heavener Lightning, a pee-wee team I helped coach for three summers.

The picture was taken, I believe, in Ada, where the Lightning played in and won the district tournament to become the first Heavener youth team to ever advance to the state tournament.

It was some 28 years ago, but memories of those young boys will never go away.

In the district tournament, we played Preston, Byng (I believe, not sure) and beat Preston in the finals to advance to the state tournament. The state tournament was played at Moore and the Lightning played Coweta in the first round and lost by a couple of runs. Coweta eventually won the state tournament and nobody played them any closer than the Lightning did.

This was the second year I had helped coach the Lightning, along with David Grubbs Sr. and Mike Vickers. And yes, this was a special group of kids, now adults.

Many of them had started playing together in t-ball and then moved up to pee-wee. This was a time when Cameron and Spiro dominated pee-wee baseball in LeFlore County. But these boys quickly showed that was changing.

We had a lot of good players on that team, especially Joey Bradberry. He caught and pitched for us and I have not seen a player that young as good as Joey was. For those who did not remember, he played college ball and was a professional prospect until injuring his throwing arm.

Joey was also a heck of a football player at Talihina and is now coaching, like his brother and father.

Jared Muse was our shortstop and he was like a vacuum. David Grubbs Jr. played second base and was our leadoff hitter, a tough little sucker even then and is now on the Heavener School Board.

Dusty Alexander was the third baseman, a solid player and a good hitter after he was allowed to swing the bat instead of bunting. Dusty was not the swiftest of foot, but was another good player. Todd Vickers manned first base and did some pitching, along with being one of our best hitters.

A future candidate for the state representative position, James “Brother” Lockhart also played for the Lightning, along with Justin Frizzell, Russell Sanders, Cody Terry, Brandon Moody, Weldon Green and Shawn Ward. There were a couple of other players, but sadly I can’t remember their names.

One of my best memories of that year was the district finals. The winner of that game would make it to the state tournament. One problem, we were out of pitchers since we were playing the third game in that many days.

We talked it over and decided to give Shawn Ward a chance, even though he had not pitched for us that season. We worked with him during an earlier practice and found out that Shawn was definitely not overpowering, but could throw strikes.

Shawn threw a bunch of strikes that night and the Lightning won their biggest game ever to advance to the state tournament.

The kids had a blast that week and also at the state tournament, staying at hotels just like the big guys. And many of those same kids also were part of the first Heavener High School football team to win a playoff game since the early 1960s.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No more Thursday games!

I shall admit it. I don’t like change. High school football games are supposed to be played on Friday nights.

Right? Uh, wrong, at least when it comes to the games during the annual state teacher meeting.

So I have but one small request to post here, one that will probably not make one bit of difference.

That is how most of my requests wind up, in the trash can. This one will probably wind up the same way, but I must voice this simple request: NO MORE THURSDAY NIGHT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAMES!

There, it is off my chest. Actually, it was never on my chest. But it was on my mind, and hopefully on the minds of others.

Now the Thursday night game between Panama and Spiro to open the season was fine. My problem is the Thursday night games the week of the state teacher meetings.

All the county games were played Thursday. I know a lot of people enjoy this change of routine. Most of the coaches do because it gives them an extra day to prepare for the following game. Some of the players probably like it, also. It even gives the fans and supporters extra time for a long weekend.

So what is my problem? If you are going to play these games on Thursday, it should only be between teams that are a short distance apart, like Panama and Spiro.

Valliant played at Spiro and Poteau visited Broken Bow. Most of those schools didn’t have school on Friday. Poteau did. So after getting back from the game well after midnight, Poteau’s players, coaches, band, cheerleaders and students were expected to attend school all day on Friday.

I doubt a whole lot of learning took place Friday. From what I understand, Poteau was the only county school to actually have school on Thursday and Friday. The players were also expected to not miss one second of class on Friday, per the upper echelons of administration.

But that is not the only negative. How about the fans from Poteau and Valliant? Fortunately, Poteau’s game ended early. Valliant’s game at Spiro ended at 10:50 p.m. thanks to the pinball-like scoring and an injury timeout that lasted over 30 minutes.

Those fans, many who likely had jobs, probably did not get home until the wee morning hours. Hopefully some of them had the day off or did not have to report early.

Others did. Friday was not a good day for the old Craigman. After the late night on Thursday, I got up early to work on the Journal (as usual), then worked from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. I did it, but it wasn’t easy.

So I hope the school administrators and coaches will take this into consideration before games are scheduled for the 2011 season and realize these Thursday games are not a good idea, especially those featuring long drives.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No way to end a game

Don’t expect Sallisaw football coach Craig Benson to get a Christmas card from any of the Poteau faithful.

In fact, don’t expect him to get anything but scorn.

Benson was not exactly well liked before Poteau played Sallisaw Friday night. Now, not liked is a huge understatement.

After a hard-fought game with the favored Black Diamonds well in control of the game, leading 24-13, Sallisaw took over deep in Poteau territory with less than a minute remaining.

Game’s over. Show some sportsmanship, right? Wrong. Instead of taking a knee, Sallisaw rushed to the line and ran several plays, scoring on the final play of the game as the horn sounded.

Not a good way to win friends and influence people. The Poteau crowd let out a round of boo’s, the PA announcer congratulated Sallisaw on the poor sportsmanship and the Pirates’ coaches and fans were not happy.

I feared a confrontation. Poteau coach Jeff Broyles did let Benson know the final score was not appreciated.

This was not the way to end a game where the underdog Pirates basically left everything they had on the field. Facing a much bigger Sallisaw team, which dwarfed the Pirates in most of the line positions, Poteau gave an effort which showed how much heart this undersized team has.

The Pirates were bruised and pounded. Quarterback Nick Donathan dislocated his thumb in the second quarter, but came back to play after halftime.

Poteau had earlier battled back from a 14-point deficit to pull within one and would have tied the score in the third quarter except for a penalty washed away a successful PAT kick and there was a bad snap on the next attempt.

Sallisaw came back and scored 10 points, which a good team does. And make no mistake, the Black Diamonds are an excellent team and well coached.

The Black Diamonds can blame the silly OSSAA rule (which seems to discourage good sportsmanship) for giving a team up to 15 points for winning margin as a tiebreaker for the playoffs as a reason they ran up the score. Sallisaw won’t need a tiebreaker for the playoffs, however.

Everybody knows the Black Diamonds will make the playoffs, either as the first or second place team out of the district, depending on how they fare against undefeated Broken Bow.

But sportsmanship should prevail in a situation like this. Game’s over, show some dignity and respect for your opponent. Don’t kick dirt in your opponent’s face. Sports are supposed to be played to teach the players lessons such as discipline and good sportsmanship.

That wasn’t good sportsmanship. And as I overheard after the game ended, what comes around goes around. Poteau plays Broken Bow in its next game. The following week Broken Bow plays Sallisaw and rest assured, the Savages will have a ton of fans supporting them against the Black Diamonds.

Friday, October 15, 2010

LCT returning to county

Spiro will hold the finals of the annual LeFlore County Tournament in January of 2011.

The LCT returns back to LeFlore County after a two-year stint with the Friday and Saturday games played at UAFS in Fort Smith.

This has been a controversial subject and remains so. County superintendents discussed the issue at a meeting Monday and confirmed that Spiro is the host of the tournament this year.

Spiro had hoped to host the big games of the tournament in its new gymnasium. The gym is easily the nicest in the county, but there are a few problems with the move.

First, the finals have always been played at a neutral site.

Then, there is the attendance factor. During the finals last year at UAFS, a crowd of over 2,600 was in attendance. Spiro officials say they can seat 1,900 in their facility. That means crowds of at least 700 less than attended the games last year.

Also, the facility at UAFS is a big-time atmosphere. Again, Spiro’s gym is excellent, but not as nice as the Stubblefield Center.

There is also a concern about parking, which might necessitate a long walk to shuttle buses to take fans from the high school to the gymnasium.

Those are the cons, but there are plenty of pros. Many people did not like the county tournament leaving the county. Having to go out of state made it worse.

This will keep money in the county instead of going across the state line. With the economy like it is, every dollar kept here instead of being spent in Fort Smith will help.

I am glad the county tournament will be played in the county, like it should. But the biggest problem still is we do not have a facility to compete with the Stubblefield Center.

We need a multi-purpose facility that will hold at least 2,500 people at a central location. It is not fair for the residents in the south part of the county to have to travel all the way to Fort Smith, or even Spiro to play in the finals, although Spiro is not much farther than Poteau.

But that is a problem. There are simply not funds available to build a facility like that. The state does not have the money and I don’t believe the facility could generate enough income to pay for itself, even by hosting the county tournament, other tournaments along with concerts, plays, etc.
It is a shame the new civic center in Poteau was planned before CASC renovated its Mick Thompson Field House, which resulted in the loss of seating and the move of the county tournament to Fort Smith.

If you would like to discuss the LCT move to Spiro, we have a discussion on this at our forum.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oops and congrats

Ahoy and welcome to another blog!

Hey, first off, I would like to point out an error in a blog the other day. Actually, two errors. I was writing about breast cancer awareness but instead of using those three words, shortened it to breast awareness.

Oops. Now before somebody mentions that every week is breast awareness week for guys, I would like to apologize for this and no, my mind was not in the gutter. Honest.

I blame the error as I do all my mistakes on my puppy Molly. Ever since we got her back in August, Molly thinks I should be spending time entertaining her instead of working on the Journal.

It is a constant battle. I will do something to distract her for a few minutes so I can actually post something to the Journal, then she will want to play and if I do not respond quick enough, do something she should not be doing or sit and bark at me.

Since you have not heard the Molly bark, it is a shrill, piercing noise that tends to make a person jump when it is not expected.

I currently have Molly scratches all over my arm. She almost gave me a black eye the other night. Molly has decided that chasing cats is a lot of fun. Fortunately she has not caught one yet.

Anyway, enough about the puppy. Congrats are in order to our county softball teams that advanced to the regional tournament. Panama, Poteau and Talihina all made the regional tournament.

Panama and Poteau lost to the eventual state champions in Konawa and Little Axe. Colbert, which beat Talihina in the regional finals, lost in the state semifinals.

Also, congratulations to the two county baseball teams that made it to the state tournament. Wister and Whitesboro represented the county well. Wister lost to eventual champion Silo in the semifinals while Whitesboro lost in the first round to eventual finalist Tupelo.

I would also like to congratulate the county band directors, especially Heavener’s Hank Nichols for organizing and taking part in the first Band Review for all the county bands. The event will take place on Monday at Harvey Stadium in Heavener and feature bands from Heavener, Panama, Pocola, Poteau, Spiro and Talihina.

This will be a great opportunity for residents to see all the county bands in one setting. I hope this is a big success and a great crowd comes out for this event. It is free and refreshments are available. Hopefully this is the first of an annual event.

Finally, my phone contract finally runs out next month. I have had a Razr for some five years and it has worked great. But it is time for a change and I will be moving into the smart phone area for the first time.

I have not had a data plan before and don’t know how much I will use it, but it will be nice to post updates to the Journal’s Facebook page instead of texting to Twitter.

But I need some help in deciding which phone to get. It will be an AT&T phone and just so you know, I am rather cheap. So leave your suggestions in the comments below or send an email to


Saturday, October 9, 2010

The eight-man experience

I made my way to the northeast part of the county last night for my first experience in eight-man football.

Maud at Arkoma was the top game in the county last night and I decided this was the time and place to lose my eight-man virginity.

After missing my turn and going around the block, trying to find the entrance, I found a spot close to the gate. Sweet. I must admit that returning to the Arkoma football field brought back some bittersweet memories.

The last time I was on this field was 30 years ago (yes, I am that old despite my youthful appearance!) when the Heavener Wolves played the Arkoma Mustangs in the season opener.

That was a loss for the Wolfies. I had one of my better games as a chubby quarterback for Heavener, but it was a bad way to open the season.

I walked up to the gate and told them I was here to cover the game. The gatekeepers smiled and let me through. I asked if there was a program available. They looked at me like I had just passed a windy. “No, we’re not that fancy,” she said, or something like that.

Now I have been to games where a roster isn’t available for one team and I usually can cope. But both teams? Eek! I walked to the press box and found rosters available. They were handwritten and I had to copy them down, but that was fine.

The first thing I noticed about the field was it was the regulation length, but a lot more narrow. It was 44 yards wide, instead of the typical 53. I introduced myself to the Arkoma coaches and had a short conversation and they are now among my favorite coaches. Easy going, friendly and about everything you can ask for.

Just like the Arkoma people at the game. A couple of Journal readers came up and introduced themselves and I found one of our frequent readers and introduced myself.

I watched the teams during the warm ups and they looked like most other football teams, just without as many players. Maud did have the coolest helmets I have seen in high school, a replica of the Cincinnati Bengals’ black stripes on orange helmets.

Finally, it was time for some football. I noticed all the officials were black and wearing outfits that looked like the NFL attire for officials with black pants instead of the usual white ones. The first kickoff was a regular kickoff, which seemed normal at the time but was surprising later (more about that soon!)

Arkoma promptly scored on a long pass play. Maud came right back and scored. Then Arkoma scored and guess what? Maud scored. That was the theme of the night. The football was well played, the players were excited, as were the fans and cheerleaders, even the Arkoma community band, which was surprisingly good.

The Mustangs scored late in the first half to lead 22-16. I was thinking I could dig this.

As I mentioned previously, the first kickoff was a normal one. From that point on, both teams tried onside kicks. Every kick. Every time. I liked that. Of course, it gave the teams short fields if they recovered, but can you imagine a coach at a bigger high school trying that?

Then, it was time for the second half. I thought there had been a lot of scoring in the first half. El wrongo. Maud scored 38 points in the third quarter alone. The Tigers had two touchdowns within 16 seconds. Seriously. Arkoma added 16 points in the third quarter. That equaled 54 points in one quarter for those of you scoring at home.

It was a quarter that seemed longer than most games. The officials did not help as they were seriously confused at times and the head guy moved at a pace that a crawling baby could top. Maybe they thought they were getting paid by the hour. Beats me.

The Arkoma kids were getting tired. I didn’t blame them. I was tired from my frequent walks back and forth on the sidelines.

As the game got a little out of hand, my attention started to wander a tad bit. I heard the old “Let’s get a little bit rowdy!” cheer, one I had not heard in probably 30 years. That was soon followed by the “Push ‘em back! Push ‘em back! Way back!” cheer. Another oldie, but not necessarily goodie.

The announcer was as good as I have heard all year. He even announced updates to the baseball playoff games. There were some good players. Arkoma’s Tyler Sweeten is as good of a receiver as I have seen this year. Maud’s quarterback was a stud, as were the two bowling ball running backs.

There were good hits, excellent catches, great runs and plenty of excitement. The only difference from other games was there weren’t as many players on the field or the sidelines.

After Maud took a 62-38 lead early in the fourth quarter, I thought maybe the mercy rule would be called and we could all go home before it got to the witching hour. Nope, the mercy rule was only if a team led by 45 points, one of the fans told me.

Ugh. I noticed the stands were departing rapidly. All the little elementary Mustang cheerleaders, who had entertained at halftime, were gone and probably already home in bed sleeping. Or texting.

The announcer kept reminding the crowd that a fifth-quarter would be held after the game. If it ever ended, I thought, but did not say. Heck, it probably wound up as a sleepever and everybody came in their jammies.

I realized about that time that there had not been a single punt all game. It was either score, turn the ball over or fail on fourth down. Mike Leach would love this.

After Maud scored again with 2:26 left in the game to increase the lead to 76-44, one Arkoma fan hollered out “We can do it!” I thought I might have morphed into an Adam Sander and wanted a sip of whatever that fan had been drinking.

In the last minutes, the announcer asked for applause for the officials. Whoa, I thought. I heard a boo from the Maud side and applause from the Arkoma crowd. Were they not watching the same game? I wondered, but did not say.

The clock slowly ticked away! Then there were back-to-back timeouts! I was about to drop. The Bob Marchant scoreboard show was probably over. My phone was dead and my texting finger was about to drop off. I probably have a callous now. I fear arthritis will hit sooner from the use of my texter from this game.

Finally, Maud got the ball back with just over a minute left and the quarterback took a knee! Hey, thank the big guy above. I edged out toward my truck and climbed in as the horn sounded. It was 10:47 p.m.

The final tally? Maud 76, Arkoma 44. FYI! That was 120 points scored in a single game. I was talking to a friend after the game and told him to shoot me if I ever mentioned going to another eight-man game.

But then I talked to Bokoshe coach Chad Ritter on the phone and he mentioned that Bokoshe will host Arkoma in a couple of weeks and I started thinking how that would be a good game.

So don’t shoot me, JP. Not yet.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The PDN&S was wrong

Typically, I try not to be critical.

But I happened to see something this week that made me cringe.

It was an editorial in the Poteau Daily News & Sun that was critical of the Poteau Chamber of Commerce getting their 2010 Membership Directory printed at the Southwest-Times Record of Fort Smith.

The PDN&S writer, who did not bother to post a name in the editorial, chastised the chamber for its choice of a printer without giving the local paper a chance to bid on the project.

The Poteau Chamber is pushing local citizens to buy local, which it should. But the paper was upset when the Chamber chose to get its printing done out of town.

Okay, let’s look at this a little closer.

First off, Stephens Media (which owns the Southwest-Times Record) has been a member of the Chamber for over 10 years.

Second, this is a true magazine printing job, not a newspaper job. The PDN&S implied that it could handle this type of printing, but had trouble with a previous order from the chamber last year.

Third, the PDN&S boo hoos about this and how it was not awarded to a LOCAL company. Hmm, last time I checked, the paper was owned by Horizon Publications, which is located in Marion, Ill., which looks like it might be an out-of-state company. True, the workers are local, but all profits are sent out of state.

Fourth, the chamber has spent a bunch of money advertising with the paper this year and every year.

Fifth, the Chamber has 7,000 editions printed. Of those, 3,000 are given out in the Fort Smith area while 4,000 are distributed in LeFlore County.

What’s next? Will the PDN&S complain if somebody advertises with another media outlet, especially if it is a Fort Smith newspaper, television or radio station.

A couple of other observations: David Seeley is doing a great job with the sports section at the paper. Also, I was surprised that the paper printed several pages in pink on Thursday. That is to honor breast awareness week, which is good. But then I noticed that there were several advertisements about breast awareness week, which makes me think that this was all an advertising venture, not just trying to raise awareness.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Big weekend for county

It’s going to be a big weekend for LeFlore County.

First up, week 5 of the high school football season.

Poteau, Panama, Heavener, Pocola and Bokoshe all play at home on Friday night. It is homecoming at Poteau and Talihina visits Panama in a battle of two county teams.

Saturday will be filled with events, also.

First off, the Go Yellow Bike Tour will be held at CASC. Registration is at 7 a.m. with the bike tour starting at 8 a.m. There will be lots of other activities held with games, food, live band, health screening, blood drive and a chance to win two tickets to the OU-OSU football game.

This is a fund raiser for local cancer survivors. Spots for vendors are still available. The goal is to raise $5,000. If interested, call (918) 647-8611.

To cap off the day, after everybody has watched the OU-Texas game, the Heavener Lions Club will stage its annual Fall Carnival in downtown Heavener.

The event has been going on for over half a century. A block of downtown Heavener will be closed off and thousands of people will return for the annual celebration. There will be lots of food, games, cake walk, bingo and the crowning of the queen will be the finale.

This is the only fundraiser the Heavener Lions Club puts on each year. They use the proceeds to help local citizens and groups with donations and to help purchase glasses for needy citizens.

If you have an event coming up, the Journal will post it for free. Call (918) 649-4712 or send an email to:

Friday, September 24, 2010

A multi-topic blog

If you choose to read today’s blog, be prepared for a multi-topic blog!

The Poteau Kiwanis Club was apparently hurting for speakers yesterday and the Craigman was invited to take part.

Apparently this was my boss Lyle Whitworth’s chance to get even with the Kiwanis for serving as program coordinator and asked if I would speak about the Journal.

I agreed. Most of the speakers are fairly good. Some are entertaining and others are informative. Then there are some that do the “uh…” and stutter a bit.

I was determined not to stutter and to keep it quick. I even won the Lucky Buck from my old math teacher, Mr. Marvin Watson.

Mary Fallin (candidate for governor) was speaking in the next room and her group were making way too much noise. I feared some of the Kiwanians probably wished they were listening to the possible next governor of Oklahoma instead of the publisher of a web site they had probably not heard anything about.

I felt relieved only two people left before my speech. But, they didn’t know I was the guest speaker and do not feel the two events are related in any way, shape or fashion.

Finally, without anything else to do, they asked for me to speak. I expected the people to be eyeing their watches and yawning after a hearty Sizzlin lunch, but because of the quick nature of my speech, I either did not notice or they were good actors.

I talked about the Journal, how it started and what we do. I even handed out a handout! One listener actually called up the Journal on his smart phone and showed several others the site!

I wrapped up my little speech probably before my allotted 15 minutes, not that anybody seemed to care. Several people asked questions! No, really. They actually did seem interested in the Journal, or they could not hear what I was saying and were listening to the speech from next door.


Our Molly is losing her ability to reproduce today. I worry about her but feel good that we will never have a slew of Molly replicas running about.

One Molly is all we can handle. I have never been around a puppy who wants to play constantly. Molly is a little Cocker Spaniel who is a bundle of energy. She has figured out the whole digging thing and we now have several ankle sprainable holes in the backyard.

Because of the operation, she can’t eat or drink. Molly keeps walking over and looking at her dish and looking at me like why can’t I get off my lazy rear and get her some grub and drink. Or something like that.

She also decided to run down the road the other day to join some kids playing. I had to chase her, not a good decision. Fortunately one of the kids grabbed her and brought her some of the way back.

Molly has also developed a keen interest in cats. She can’t figure out why they don’t want to play and the whole hiss action when she gets too close.


The wife put up a new shower liner for our shower. It is see-through and I accused her of using that one so she could see my nudeness glistening under the stream of Wister Lake water.

The response? No comment.


We have feasted at the new Almost Italy restaurant a couple of times now. The food is good, as is the service and surroundings, plus it is only a few blocks from the homestead.

I am a spaghetti with meat sauce kinda guy. Pretty good stuff, I must write.


And that’s the rest of the blog, as Paul Harvey would say if he was still alive and wrote a blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Journal turns 1

There was no birthday card, lit candle or the Happy Birthday song.

But none was expected. There was a birthday last week without any fanfare.

Your LeFlore County Journal had its one-year birthday last week.

The Journal started publishing last year at that time and made it to one year without closing the doors, although technically we have no doors to close.

Our first event to cover last year was Mena’s football game at Poteau. From that point on, the Journal has published most days, although the weekends sometimes get a break.

Since our marketing budget is a big donut (aside from business cards that need updated), most of the advertising has been from word of mouth and from one person sharing it with another, who, you know.

We have had feature stories, news events, sports from around the state and a bunch of obituary notices.

Back when we started the Journal, it looked pretty much the way it does today, without as much content, of course.

Our goal from the first was to provide fair and balanced coverage for the county, from the largest town and school to the smallest. We can’t make all the events, especially since your Journal publisher also has a side job, but luckily we have had a lot of help from people contributing stories and events.

During the past year, we have covered sporting events in towns throughout the county and even traveled to Hennessey, Muskogee and McAlester. We have seen some great games (last year’s football game between Wagoner and Poteau was probably the best) and covered some that were a little on the lopsided side.

Fortunately, we have a good group of coaches, administrators, school personnel, fans and players who have helped out considerably.

In addition to stories, we have had a bunch of pictures in the Journal. Some I would consider good, others that were okay.

Our biggest advantage from day one is how quick we can publish the stories and pictures. We frequently have the stories and pictures published the same night the event takes place, whether it is election coverage or a football, basketball, baseball or softball game.

Unlike the traditional newspapers, our readers don’t have to wait until the next day or week to read about events happening in the county.

There is no way to thank all the readers, contributors, advertisers and supporters personally, but you will never know how much you are appreciated.

We hope the Journal continues to grow and improve. Your advice, suggestions and help are always welcome. So again, thank you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hijacked by Molly!

Hi everybody! This is Molly, Craig’s new puppy writing this thing! Again, it is simply Molly. Not Mollypop or Mollybygolly. Geez.

Now you might be asking how I can write this down, since I am a puppy. Well, don’t.

Craig is off working at whatever a job is, so I decided to write a blog and let everybody meet me. I know Craig wrote one of these blog things a couple of weeks ago, but he didn’t capture my true essence.

First off, I am a little black cocker spaniel. I like to eat (human food! Dog food tastes like ground up horse meat, if you ask me!) I also like to play for hours on end, especially when my people are trying to do something. Tee hee, it's great fun! They should have thought about that before they brought me home.

I don’t actually need that much attention, but it is fun to make them toss a toy for hours on end just to try and keep me entertained. It’s actually a little boring, to tell the truth.

We are still having a battle for control of the house. The people think they are in control but I am taking over a little bit more each day. Don’t believe me? Who decides how much sleep the people get? I do! It’s amazing how one little bark or whimper will wake a human, especially the bald dude.

They hurt my feelings last night. The people let me sleep with them and I had to tinkle and did so in the bed. I didn’t mean anything by it. Yeah, let’s see them hold their pee pee all night if they had a bladder the size of a pecan.

For that little incident, I was banished back to my cage for the rest of the night. That just wasn’t fair! And when I protested, they told me to be quiet!

The nerve. I acted like I was happy to see them this morning, but I was just glad to get out of the cage and I snuck in a pee spot on the carpet, hoping one of them would step in it. They did! Success!

The bald guy calls me a fart sniffer. I object to that term. I can’t help it! He does it too much and I have to find out where it is coming from. He’s just lucky I investigate and don’t go into attack mode.

I felt bad last night. See, I like to bite Trish in the nose. It’s great fun, you should try it some time! My little puppy teeth are sharp as razors. But I missed and cut her face. She wouldn’t play with me the whole night after that. So I got my revenge in the bed!

Ha ha! You should have seen them scramble up out of the bed. It was like two in the morning. I didn’t know old people like that could move so fast! All it takes is a little wee wee and it was like they were attacked by a bunch of spiders.

I would also like to point out that I am not scared of other animals, despite what you might have heard. I am a little dog (duh!) and every animal they put around me is like, huge (except for that little weenie dog from the Perdue household)! Especially that bulldog who lives next door.

One other complaint: they expect me to go outside IN THE RAIN to use the bathroom! As if! I would say it’s not like they do it, but then again the bald guy did while trying to get me to go. He must have been born in a barn, or Heavener. I sat under the roof and stayed dry. There’s plenty of places to tinkle inside! And I don’t even have to get wet.

It’s about time for a nap so I can be well rested when the people get home. They will be tired. I won’t. See ya!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another sad day for Heavener

I should start this blog by saying I didn’t know Billy “Shane” Olen Davis of Heavener.

I did know his parents, Jason and Amy Davis, and they are both good people.

And I am sad to say I will never get the opportunity to meet the 17-year old. He was the latest in a long line of Heavener youth, taken way too early by accidents. Apparently Davis was either “surfing” in the back of a truck or trying to climb out the driver side window and into the back seat window.

Again, I don’t know which. But whatever happened, it was again a sad day for Heavener and its residents, which should be getting used to such accidents, but never will, of course.

This is at least the fifth young man who has died in Heavener over the last few years. There were two ATV accidents, a diving accident and others.

In each incident, the youth was a good guy with lots of friends. These weren’t your bad kids, the drug dealers or criminals who left us too early, but kids with plenty of good traits and a lifetime ahead of them to have a great life.

What can be done to prevent this? Nothing, really. You can’t take away all the fun activities or life will not be much fun. Who would have thought one of these boys would pick a bad spot to jump into a creek where so many others have gone before? Or one little mistake driving a four-wheeler would cause the ATV to hit a fence or tree?

Nobody would. Should we stop these activities? No, of course not. Surfing in the back of a truck? Yes, please do stop it before we lose somebody else. Hopefully if something good does come of this, other kids will no longer stand up in the back of a moving truck or try to climb from one window into another.

But kids will still do things like this and most will wake up the next morning. Lucky? Yes.

I was a kid once and liked to have fun. I still like to have fun. We never stood up in the back of a truck or had four wheelers when I was a kid. But we did dumb stuff.

We were lucky. But sometimes there are those who are not going to be fortunate. That is life. But again, hopefully others see what happened to their friends and will be a little more careful and will live to see middle age and eventually old age.

But once again the little town of Heavener is devastated and people are asking why this happened.

Hopefully, this will be the last accident. People should be talking about the football game Friday night or how their kid did on a spelling test. The only loss should be on the athletic field, not life. Instead, there is a dark cloud hanging over the town, one which will never produce the rain we need so badly.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bulldogs look good in win

Going into Thursday night’s game, Spiro was supposed to have the edge in speed.

The Bulldogs certainly did.

But Panama was supposed to have an edge in line play.

The Razorbacks didn’t. Spiro’s speed and impressive play by both the offensive and defensive line made the difference in the Bulldogs’ 27-14 win over Panama before a huge crowd at George Ollie Stadium.

Spiro sacked Panama quarterback David Shirey nine times, frequently getting to the signal-caller before he had a chance to look for receivers.

The Bulldogs’ offensive line looked good at times, although Panama was able to put some pressure on quarterback Clayton Mitchem several times. Mitchem was able to escape the pressure using his speed, however.

Big plays belonged to Spiro. Junior K.J. Booze emerged as the next star for the Bulldogs, returning the opening punt some 75 yards for a touchdown and another 41 yards to set up a score.

He was almost impossible to tackle, reversing field and juking away from frustrated tacklers. Booze also caught three passes for 36 yards and intercepted a pass on defense.

Spiro running back Elliott Hawkins was equally impressive, rushing for 126 yards on only 13 carries, scored twice, including a 52-yard run on the opening drive of the third quarter.

The only negative for Spiro on the night was the loss of Jermaine Jimmerson, a sophomore who was expected to be a big contributor for the Bulldogs.

Jimmerson suffered a gruesome broken bone to his left leg late in the first quarter, delaying the game some 30 minutes. For some reason, there was not an ambulance at the game.

Somebody said there was one there earlier, but had to answer a call. I didn’t see an ambulance, not that I was really looking for one. Fortunately, Panama had a squad of first responders in attendance to help with the situation while Doc Stone helped hold the bone in addition to coaches from both schools.

It was a scary situation. The EMTs did an excellent job once they got there and transported him to a hospital. But it still makes me wonder why there wasn’t an ambulance standing by at the only high school football game in the county.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today's the day

Decisions, decisions!

Or actually, a decision. Today is a big day for one Matt Webb and James Lockhart.

Voters in most of LeFlore County will decide whether they want Webb or Lockhart to move forward in the bid for the Dist. 3 House seat to face Rep. Roger Mattox in the general election on Nov. 2.

A light turnout is expected as voters will only cast a vote for either Lockhart or Webb, the two Democrats who survived a six-person primary election at the end of July.

And you can discuss this issue HERE on the Journal forum.

So…who to vote for? Several people have asked who I will cast my vote on. I’m not saying, and surprised anybody would actually care.

Typically, there is a candidate I really hope wins and one who I pray does not, except for the recent presidential election when I hoped there would be a surprise write-in candidate.

Both Webb and Lockhart are capable candidates the county should be proud to have representing them. Neither one has ran a campaign where the primary goal was to sling mud at the other candidate.

Obviously they both want the position or they would not have spent so much time and money campaigning

It has made a rather boring campaign, but one that is refreshing. These are the type of representatives we need in Oklahoma City, one who runs on their own merits instead of making negative statements on the other.

I expect to see the same thing in the months leading up to November. Sure, there will be the whole Democrat vs. Republican thing, but I don’t expect there will be any personal attacks on the other candidate then, either.

And the winner of tonight’s vote, or Mattox, will be a good representative for our county. The winner will work hard for us and do the right thing.

This isn’t a good time to be in office with the economy in the sludge pile. There are difficult decisions which will have to be made, some many of us might not agree with. But Webb, Lockhart or Mattox will do the right thing and not let the office tempt them to do the wrong thing, which we have seen happen to way too many politicians.

So whoever you favor, be sure and vote today. If your favorite candidate does not win, it isn’t the end of the world. The sun will rise tomorrow (and probably put off a lot of heat) and the other candidates will do a good job for us.

And yes, I am Craig Hall and I approved this message.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Long and hot day at the Classic

You may be wondering just how I spent my Saturday. Then again, you may not.

But I am going to share it with you, anyway. Unlike the disaster which was last Saturday when my truck broke down at McDonald’s, I had to walk over a mile in flip flops to get home AND a friend’s dog pee pee’d on me, etc., I was a dedicated softball watcher this Saturday.

Shortly after noon, I went to watch the final day of the Lady ‘Back Classic at Panama. Poteau was in the winners’ bracket finals while Panama and Pocola were still alive.

After it rained yesterday morning, the start date was pushed back to the early afternoon. I soon discovered it was humid, bad humid. And hot, too!

That was during my walk to the truck, which fortunately seems to be okay after the previous problems. I picked up my buddy, Andy Perdue, who is still considered a friend even though it was his puppy, Reo, who used me as his personal urine pad.

The first games were running a little late and I noticed again that it was hot. Good thing I used deodorant before I left home, eh? Or did I? Then I figured out it probably wouldn’t make much difference.

As a journalist, I am supposed to be neutral. With county teams Panama and Pocola getting beaten out early in the day (both in 1-0 losses to Smithville), I was hoping for a sweep by Poteau against Red Oak so I could catch some AC and also a Saturday afternoon nap. The wife was also wanting to go eat at the Barn thing at Rock Island.

It started out well as Poteau smashed Red Oak, 5-0. I had visions of an early return home to catch some cool air and get bit by our puppy, Molly. There was an elimination game between Red Oak and Smithville to watch before getting to the finals.

I found some shade and watched Red Oak smash Smithville, glad the Lady Eagles had not played this well against Poteau.

Finally the championship game started. Along with the many Poteau fans in attendance, I was hoping for a quick game, one with the Lady Pirates on top.

Sadly, Poteau came out flat. Red Oak scored two runs early and the Lady Pirates’ bats were as cold as I wanted to be. Ugh, another game.

I was almost even put on the disabled list! A parent tried to throw a Gatorade bottle over the fence to one of the players. He did not get enough height on the throw and the bottle hit the fence and bounced back, landing on my hand.

“Ouch!” I wanted to yell, or something else with four letters. But I showed my toughness and did not allow the pain to show. Craig the gamer! I didn’t even rub dirt on my wound.

The breeze which had worked earlier to keep the BO in check had disappeared, replaced by more humidity. Sitting in the shade was a priority, fortunately no fights broke out.

Poteau came alive in the final game and won, 3-0. Poteau fan and mother, Carol Vise, made a fine observation: “We all stink.”

Yes, we did. Soon, it started smelling like a cow pasture. Several of the girls noticed it and asked, “What is that smell?” I blamed it on Andy, er, Coach Perdue. Hopefully, it wasn’t just me. After sitting out in the 100 plus degree temperature and stifling humidity, deodorant prescribed by a doctor would not have done the trick.

“I’m even sweating between my fingers,” I said, for some reason I don’t recall.

Luckily the game was over quickly, thank goodness for fastpitch! Andy asked if I was going to take any pictures of the award presentation. Not this time, I said, as we rushed to the truck and a little relief thanks to the AC.

Upon returning home, the wife warned me not to get close. Luckily, Molly was glad to see me, but then again, she is a dog and likes things that smell bad.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's Molly, by golly!

Just a couple of weeks ago, we lost my wife’s dog, Raider, a shih-tzu who frequently lived up to the name of his breed.

Some driver hit Raider and the little guy didn’t make it. Now Raider and I were friends, I guess, not that you would ever know about him. Raider thought he was the king of the house and was indifferent to everything, except when it suited him.

He was a good dog, just not what I was used to being around. I like dogs who show some emotion and affection.

So we looked around for dogs for a couple of weeks and on Tuesday, Trish told me a friend had a cocker spaniel puppy she needed to give away. I had never had a cocker spaniel before, but decided to go check her out.

As soon as we met Molly, I could tell she was the anti-Raider. She went crazy, jumping up and down, wanting to be held and then kissing (and biting) us.

My wife asked what I thought. I had fallen for her instantly. I didn’t much care for her color (black), only because it would be tough to get good pictures of her.

But Molly was it. We brought her home and quickly figured out that Molly’s main ambition in life was to play. Then play some more.

Does she ever sleep, I wondered? Not often, especially if we are awake. Molly is a player. She has toys scattered all out the house and when we take her out to do her business, Molly has a couple of sticks she likes to play with and drag all over the yard.

I did a little research and found out cocker spaniels like to climb. I can confirm that fact. Molly has a little trouble jumping up on the furniture, but she climbs almost like a cat.

She also discovered her image in the mirror and windows. Apparently Molly does not like seeing another dog in the house and spends way too much time barking at her image. Seriously.

As I write this, Molly is lying in the floor next to me, playing with a toy. Every few minutes, she decides I am not giving her the appropriate amount of attention and she jumps up at me until I throw her toy or rub her belly.

While Raider could care less what we were doing, Molly follows us all over the house. If one of us walks through the house, she has to follow. Yeah, sounds boring. But not to Molly.

On her first night here in her new house, Molly was in the front yard and saw the neighbor’s two dogs, an English bulldog and a pug. The pug was even bigger than her. The Bulldog probably makes piles almost as big as her. But Molly barked at them and only backed up a bit, no doubt braver since the other dogs were on a leash.

One other benefit! Molly is like a vacuum cleaner. She does a great job cleaning up my crumbs and if any food is dropped on the floor, Molly cleans it up!

Now I can’t get in trouble for leaving chip particles on the floor. Molly cleans it up and does not complain.

Yes, I am behind with my work on the Journal, but I figure it is worth it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Farewell Freddie

The news hit me like a well-aimed shot to the stomach.

A friend called and said Freddie Cox had died Monday evening. I was watching one of my favorite shows on television, but turned it off to find out what happened and hopefully hear that it was wrong.

It wasn’t. Freddie had passed away in a Fort Smith hospital. He had suffered a rough stretch, made even worse after a long bout with pneumonia.

I’m not sure how long I knew Freddie, probably most of my life. He was one of the good ones, a person always ready with a smile and a handshake.

He gave more to LeFlore County and Heavener than anybody could expect. If there was an event going on, Freddie and Sue were usually there. It could be a sporting event, a chamber deal or just a group of people getting together, but they were usually there.

And he always had time to make his way around and visit with everybody. Some would say it was because he was a county commissioner and his position dictated that Freddie talk to everybody.

But I don’t think that was it. I think he enjoyed people. That is a good quality in a person. He also enjoyed helping others. Freddie was involved with the Heavener Lions Club for years and could usually be found manning the cake walk.

I could be wrong, but I never saw him mad or vindictive at anybody. I also never heard him say a bad thing about anybody.

He preferred to just be Freddie.

I have always believed a person should be remembered for the good the person does. Freddie left Heavener and LeFlore County a much better place than it would have been without him.

He did lose his final two races: against Ceb Scott for county commissioner and to an illness, but Freddie Cox left us as a winner. Farewell Freddie, you will be missed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Old rivalries remembered

I remember the good old days in LeFlore County football, back when Heavener and Poteau were huge rivalries along with Poteau and Spiro.

The Heavener and Poteau rivalry died in the mid-1980s after the Pirates destroyed an already banged up Heavener team by over 40 points and several Wolves were hurt or sent to the emergency room.

I remember attending those games and also playing in them. There was no bigger game. In Heavener, the pre-game festivities were almost bigger than the games.

On Thursdays, there would be a big pep rally and a bonfire with the Pirate burned, followed by a snake dance that stretched from the school all the way through downtown and back to the school.

On Fridays, there would be another big pep rally and there was always an excitement, unlike any other game we played. The stadiums would be bloated with fans for both teams, with even the end zones filled with people, not just the kids playing ball.

Heavener last beat Poteau two years running back in the 1970s. Those Heavener teams were coached by Ralph Perdue, whose son Andy, is now the defensive coordinator for the Pirates.

During my three years on the varsity, two of the games were close. My sophomore year, the only time the game was played in Heavener, we lost somewhere around 15-0.

My junior year, we visited Poteau and the game was over by halftime. That was a good Poteau team and we were banged up badly and had little depth. Most of the Heavener players had to play ever snap and special team play and I was more tired at halftime of that game than I have ever been.

Then in my senior year, 1980, we were 1-1 going into the game while Poteau was 2-0. Maybe the Pirates were overlooking us our something, but we scored first and after we scored, there was a silence coming from the fans on the other side like they were in amazement.

Poteau won up winning 21-7, but we still had chances to come back, but couldn’t take advantage of them.

The next year, the Pirates came to Heavener and escaped by one point.

The series lasted a little longer before being buried.

Looking back now, my senior year we played every county school aside from Spiro. We played Arkoma (a good team which lost only once in the regular season), Pocola, Poteau, Talihina and Panama. Obviously Arkoma played 11-man back then and Bokoshe did not play football.

Now the Poteau and Spiro series has been put to rest. A series which featured the two best teams in the county for so long, a rivalry that has gone back and forth over the years.

Poteau has won the last couple of years, but Spiro has won its share of games also.

Some of the games over the last few years have been blowouts. But for a school with the tradition of Spiro to end this series, still surprises me.

Over the last few years, the opener has always been Poteau and Spiro. At one point, the two teams played on Saturdays so the rest of the county could attend.

But in the openers this year, Poteau travels to Checotah and Spiro hosts Panama. The Spiro and Panama game makes sense in this distressed economy, but now Poteau does not play a single county team

The Pirates’ non-district schedule features games at Checotah, a home game with Idabel and a game at Gravette, Ark. But it is not Poteau’s fault, it is just a sign of the times.

And a sad one at that.

Heavener and Panama are considered a rivalry. Heavener and Spiro were getting to be a good rivalry, but that series ended this year when Spiro moved up a class. Others would say Panama and Pocola is a good rivalry, but they haven’t even played the last two years.

A rivalry to me is one of those games where the two schools play every year. Back when Heavener played Poteau, the two schools had been playing since the 1920s. Our grandfathers and fathers played against the grandfathers and fathers from the other school.

Now that is what makes it a rivalry.

Friday, August 6, 2010

25 questions about Craig

So, a friend of mine answered one of those 25 question things on Facebook about one Craig Hall. As a public service and because I know you want to know more about me, I decided to pass this on.

NOTICE: She is happily married so that obviously skewed some of her answers. Her answer is in caps and bold, mine follows. I am, of course, the CH, but was too lazy to type out my name that many times. I did delete a few of the questions because they were silly, like anything on Facebook could be silly.

1. Do you think CH would make a good spouse? YES—I have had plenty of practice.
2. Would CH do community service voluntarily? YES—of course.
3. Is CH smarter than you? YES—uh, whatever.
4. Have you ever had a crush on CH? NO—what? Oh yeah, she is married.
5. Do you think CH still wet the bed in 6th grade? NO—I quit the summer going into sixth grade.
6. Is CH profile picture ugly? NO—remember, this is a friend.
7. Does CH like blue eyes? YES—Wrong, I never cared for Frank Sinatra.
8. Has CH ever lied to you? NO—cool.
9. Would CH sell you out for a million dollars? NO—uh…my limit is $1 million and a penny.
10. Is CH a good driver? YES—except when my attention wanders
11. Have you ever fantasized about CH? NO—She was obviously afraid her husband would read this. Right? Right?
12. Do you think CH watches porn? NO—Of course and...was this now or in my lifetime?
13. Would CH help an elderly lady cross the street? YES—Especially if it saved time so I could drive through the intersection
14. Was CH a dork in high school? NO—Smart woman!
15. Would CH ditch a date? NO—as hard as it was for me to get one…
16. Would CH look good in tights? NO—Hmm, she obviously has never seen me in tights. Then again, I have never seen me in tights.
17. Does CH like brownies? YES—but not pizza.
18. Would CH look good in a mini-skirt? YES—but not tights? Now if it was one of those Scottish things…
19. Would you skinny dip with CH? NO—uh…
20. Has CH showered today? YES—sorry, I haven’t! But I will in approximately 15 minutes!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vype football predictions

As summer is hopefully winding down and school starting, my thoughts are turning to the upcoming football season.

While making a trip to the store the other day, I noticed the Oklahoma Football Preview magazine (published by VYPE)on the rack and like many others, I coughed up seven bucks and some change to buy it.

The magazine is a nice publication. It has stories on all the state high school football teams, rankings and top players. But I will get to that in a bit.

The first thing that struck me was they had six of the top quarterbacks in the state on the cover along with former OU great Jason White, who was holding his Heisman Trophy.

Three thoughts hit me rather quickly: 1. Almost eight bucks! Geez; 2. Where was Sam Bradford? It would have been rather cool to have him along with White on the cover; 3. Why wasn’t Talihina’s Jordan Eagleroad on the cover?

Now I have not seen these other guys play. I am sure they are good. But I also doubt a couple of them could carry Eagleroad’s athletic supporter (not that they would probably want to).

No, Eagleroad does not have all the passing yards they do. He plays on a team that is old-fashioned run first, but he is probably one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks in the state and Eagleroad has led his team to back-to-back undefeated seasons during the regular season.

And as an athlete, I really doubt any of the quarterbacks could match up with him. I could be wrong, but…

Anyway, according to Vype, Poteau and Talihina are expected to have good seasons. Some of the information is a little stale, of course. But if I wrote articles on every team in the state, I would want an early start also.

Poteau is ranked 12th in Class 4A and expected to finish third in the district behind No. 4 Broken Bow and seventh-ranked Sallisaw. In 4A-4, the Pirates are picked third. It also lists Nick Donathan as starting at receiver. Huh?

In 3A, Spiro is ranked 26th and fourth in its district behind Seminole, Stigler and Atoka. It shows Clayton Mitchem as the returning starter at quarterback but I have not heard if he will be playing at Spiro this year after having eligibility problems last year.

Among county schools in Class 2A, Talihina is picked third despite moving up a class. The Tigers are predicted to win District 2A-6 over Vian. Panama is fourth, Pocola fifth and Heavener sixth. Panama is 32nd, Pocola 45th and Heavener 52nd out of 58 teams.

Arkoma and Bokoshe are playing in District C-4 this season. The Mustangs are picked fifth in the district while Bokoshe is eighth.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My return to the CCC invitational

The 45th Annual Invitational Golf Tournament at Choctaw Country Club has come and gone.

The tournament, now known as the Spider Webb Invitational, was played on Saturday and Sunday at CCC.

A field of 58 teams competed for a championship in eight flights. As usual, it was a great tournament and the tournament committee members need to be congratulated along with the board, members and staff at Choctaw Country Club.

The tournament turned out great despite several obstacles. CCC had to replace the greens earlier in the summer and the tournament date was moved back to July 1-Aug. 1, guaranteeing even warmer weather than usual.

Scott Forsberg did a great job on the greens, which are already better than the old ones.

Back in the early to mid-1990s, I played in the event every year. This was the first time I played in the Invitational since 1997.

A lot has changed since then. First off, I actually was a decent golfer back then. Honest. My playing partners might find that difficult after watching me search for errant golf balls in places which usually don’t see golf balls, but that is true. My teams used to compete for a top spot. Now, we were sunk at the bottom of our flight, despite the best efforts of my playing partner, Eddie Freeman.

He played really well both days. We had some bad luck on Saturday in the low-ball tournament and had two really bad holes as one writer of this blog did not help out when his partner was in trouble. The tournament started out looking good for the old Craigman. We started on the fourth hole and I hit a good drive, chipped my second shot up to about five feet away from the hole.

Whoa, I thought, a birdie to start the tournament! But then it was oops, I pulled the putt left of the hole. Drats. That was one of my few highlights from Saturday. We shot an 81 and were 11 strokes out of the lead.

I played a little better on Saturday. At one point, I made three pars in a row. Seriously. I actually didn’t realize that until Eddie told me. He did a good job of masking his surprise. I made a long putt on No. 1, made a par on the second hole with a tap-in and then had a four on the third hole, which was good as Eddie followed up with a birdie.

I guess having some support on a hole made a difference for him. I only lost one ball on Sunday after visiting the ponds and deep grass several times on Saturday.

We played in the afternoon on Saturday. It was brutal hot. But it was worse Sunday morning despite starting at 7:30. No wind, lots of humidity and sweat.

I actually did practice a lot heading into the tournament, despite my play showing different. But it was good to be back in the tournament. Maybe next year I can turn back time and actually look like a golfer again.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Local pols do it the right way

Just what in the name of Kenneth Corn is going on here?

We had six Democratic candidates running for the house seat.
Yes! That should be good for a little fighting, slapping and old-fashioned mud slinging!

Right? Uh, not really.

Matt Webb, James Lockhart, Jake Leming, Traci Barnes, Jarrod Ridenour and David Hogan were on their best behavior during the campaign, for the most part.

The only controversy, if you would even consider it to be controversy, was the challenge filed by Webb and Leming over Barnes’ residency filing. It was decided that Barnes could file using her address at the hotel.

That should have got some blood boiling and name calling going, eh? If it did, I never heard it.

But surely as the primary election neared all that nicey nicey stuff would go away, right? Drats, no. All the candidates acted like grown up, respectable citizens, sort of like the kind of person you would want to represent our area in the House.

You probably know by now that Webb got the most votes in the primary with Lockhart second. Those two will be in the runoff election on Aug. 24. Mano-o-mano, head-to-head! At last, the mud would start slinging!

Yeah, right. Here is what Webb said about his opponent: “James ran a really good race. He worked really hard. He and his family did a good job and James is a good candidate.”

Huh? A candidate praising his opponent?

Well…good for him, and the other candidates.
It was also a surprise for Lockhart.

“Yeah, it was really pretty neat,” he said. “When I decided to run I thought I’d need to have really thick skin. But it was really clean for the most part. It was very humbling.”

Hmm, perhaps candidates for larger elections could learn a lesson from our locals. It is not necessary to use name calling and mud slinging tactics in elections. State your qualifications and why you are the better candidate without resorting to saying your opponent is not worth a puddle of tobacco spit and lower than a worm.

Think that would happen in a race involving congressional candidates, governor or president? Not hardly. But it would be good to hear, say, President Obama describing Jeb Bush as a “good, hard-working candidate” like Webb said about Lockhart.

Wouldn’t it? I think so.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My favorite weather guy comes to Poteau

On Monday evening, a friend told my wife that Garrett Lewis was coming to Poteau.

I must admit, Lewis is by far my favorite weather forecaster. He is accurate and you can tell he cares about his job and the people of the Channel 5 viewing area.

Each year, Lewis makes a tour of the area on his bicycle. That was his reason for coming to Poteau. I thought it would be a good photo op and decided to be at the Chamber office when he arrived.

Whoa, I thought when I got to the office, there must be some kind of meeting going on. The parking lot was packed and several people were milling about inside.
No meeting. The people were there for Garrett. I talked to Karen Wages for a minute and listened as the crowd discussed where Garrett was and how soon he would arrive.

I went outside with my trusty camera to get a shot of Garrett. Several others soon joined me. We waited, and waited some more. Yes, more people showed up. Finally, we had a Garrett sighting!

And then, we saw Garrett turn down Dewey Avenue, a block north of the Chamber office. You could almost feel the worry! Garrett went the wrong way. He was preceded by the green Camaro courtesy of Hug Chevrolet in Van Buren, outfitted like a Nascar car.

The anticipation grew. Where was Garrett? Did he know where he was going? Our chamber manager went down the block looking for him.

More people gathered. You could cut the suspense with a butter knife. Alas, another Garrett sighting! The channel 5 news crew arrived to film Garrett’s arrival. I strategically moved behind the camera, but still had a good spot to take a picture of Garrett.

The semi-old Craigman has been on television before and the old tale of television adding a few pounds is not accurate in my case. It adds much more than a few pounds. Plus I was afraid the sun shining off the old dome might blind the people watching on television if we did have a shot of me.

Finally, Garrett and his entourage turned back on Broadway and came toward the chamber office. People started clapping. Honest. I snapped a few photographs and in this one, Garrett was smiling and waving at…ME!

Unfortunately I cut his arm off in the picture. Drats. Garrett pedaled into the back parking lot and got off his bike. The crowd did not rush him, but they did approach quickly to shake his hand and Garrett smiled, shook hands, hugged a few (eek, he had to have some sweat going, I thought). Several in the crowd told Garrett he was their favorite weather guy and welcomed him to Poteau.

They popped the trunk on the Camaro and were kind enough to hand out t-shirts. Garrett was about like you would expect. He seemed to be having as good of a time as the people did who came to see him.

I had to get back to work. But last night, I watched the 6 p.m. news to see how it turned out. My wife and I about had our first fight as I wanted to watch the news but she kept flipping over to King of Queens.

Finally, it was weather time and she switched off Doug and Carrie. Garrett did the weather and then they got to the story on Garrett’s trip to Poteau. It started with him at the Choctaw Travel Plaza.

He drove down Broadway and talked to the camera person, pointing out Cavanal.

Finally, they got Garrett turning into the chamber office. I thought all was safe when suddenly, the camera panned and ugh, Craig was on the television. At least the back of Craig. Double ugh. I looked like a bald whale. Luckily, the Craig sighting was brief. And I thought I had lost weight!

They showed Garrett visiting and signing t-shirts. Hmm, I didn’t think of that. I could have had a shirt signed by Garrett. It may seem a little odd, but I doubt most of those shirts won’t be washed very often.

They closed off with Garrett talking to the camera and the Garrett fans standing behind him, saying something I could not make out.