Friday, May 27, 2011

Poteau gets state tournament

Some congratulations are in order today as Poteau was awarded the 2011 Midget State Tournament for July 12-16.

Dr. Steve Smith did the legwork and secured the bid for Poteau with the help of local OK Kids president Jerry Pitchford and other supporters.

The tournament has been held at Weatherford the last few years and getting the tournament is a big coup.

Eight teams along with families, friends and supporters were descend on Poteau that week and as Pitchford said in his statement, stay in our hotels, visit our restaurants and see what the area has to offer.

This should provide a big economic boost to the county. There are no solid numbers on how many visitors will come to the area, but if you consider there are eight teams with at least 10 players on each team, along with coaches, parents and family, and they will need to eat, get refreshments, gas, and need a place to stay, our area should benefit.

This is the first time in recent memory, if not the first time ever, an OK Kids state tournament will be held in the county. Usually, the tournaments are held in more central locations as towns from throughout the state participate in OK Kids.

The Midget group is for youth aged 11-12. Games will be held at the PARC that week.

To get the state tournament, organizers have to bid on the event. Naturally, Poteau is not centrally located and there had to be some reluctance to send teams from clear across the state to southeastern Oklahoma.

But Smith and Pitchford showed Poteau had the facilities and abilities to host the tournament.

In addition, the week before the state tournament, regional tournaments for Coach Pitch will be held at Heavener, a PeeWee regional is scheduled for Spiro and a Prep regional will come to Panama.

So congratulations to all those who worked so hard to bring the state and regional tournaments to our area. We need to roll out the red carpet and welcome our visitors and show them how good this part of the state is and hopefully they will come back again…and again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pirates show potential

Poteau closed out its spring football practice with the Red-White scrimmage Saturday morning at Costner Stadium.

The 2011 version of the Pirates strutted their stuff as the two teams were divided fairly even among the squad, giving all the players an opportunity to strut their stuff for the final time before summer break.

Kendrick Hardaway tries to catch a long pass in the Red-White scrimmage.
After missing the playoffs last year, Poteau is looking to return to post-season play in the 2011 season and unlike last year, the Pirates will get three of their first four games at home.

The Pirates showed plenty of promise in the skill positions in the Red-White scrimmage with quarterbacks Wilson Klutts and Jace Pitchford leading the two teams.

Klutts started at quarterback last year before moving to receiver after suffering a knee injury. He was impressive in the scrimmage, especially running the ball.

Pitchford, who will be a sophomore next season, had several impressive throws for the Red team, although the white defense did apply good pressure.

Nick Donathan, who filled it at quarterback last year, is back at running break and broke away for a long touchdown run for the Red team while Michael Reynolds and Kaydon Evans also had some good runs for the White team.

Blake Roley, who hasn’t played the last couple of years while concentrating on basketball and baseball, is out for football and had a good catch and run from a pass from Pitchford.

Tyler Tustin also caught a long pass for the Red team while Jesse Woodson had a nice run on a reverse for the White squad.

The Pirates will have to fill some spots on both lines, but do have some talent and size looking for playing time. The major question is at inside linebacker as James Dighton and Connor Gilstrap both graduated after excellent seasons.

Again, there is some talent available, although those positions might be filled from younger players or players changing positions.

All these questions and more will be answered on Friday, Sept. 2 when the Pirates open at home against Checotah.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Way to go Wildcats

A lot of teams deserve to win a state championship.

There are a lot of talented teams in every class. But Wister deserved to win a state championship and the Wildcats did Saturday with a 4-2 win over Dale.

Yes, the Wildcats are talented. Teams don't get to the state tournament without having good players. But as I mentioned in a previous blog, Wister plays baseball the way it should be played.

And maybe this will be a lesson to other teams who think trash talking and trying to rattle the opponent is a vital part of the game.

In the two years I have watched these Wildcats play, I have never seen any of their players or coaches do a single thing to try and disrespect an opponent, even when they have had plenty of reasons to get upset.

In many ways, this is old-school baseball. The Wildcats have good pitching (sorry, great pitching in the postseason), excellent hitting and strong defense. That is the secret to a good team and why Wister has been so successful.

The Wildcats have been on a roll since the 2010 LCT, when they captured the tournament despite not being the favorite. Since then, they have rarely been challenged and have reached the state tournament three straight times.

In the two previous trips (last spring and in the fall), Wister fell to Silo. The Wildcats got another shot at top-ranked Silo in the semifinals this year and didn't let the past defeats bother them. Instead, Wister pounded Silo, 6-1, to erase those past disappointments and move into the finals against second-ranked Dale.

All three pitchers Tyler Gibson, Cody Luman and Clint Crane, who dominated in the state tournament, will be back again. The Wildcats only lose three seniors: Josh Wolfe, Devon Midgley and Scoute Warren, so they will be a powerhouse again.

Wister's win also capped off a successful year of sports for our county teams. The championship was the second for county teams this school year after Talihina won the boys Class 2A state championship in basketball.
Whitesboro also reached the state baseball tournament in the fall. Poteau's girls made the state softball tournaments in the fall and spring. Spiro made it to the quarterfinals in football and the Lady Bulldogs reached the state tournament in basketball. The Bulldogs also won the baseball LCT and came within a game of reaching the state tournament in 3A.

Also, Poteau's boys and girls golf teams made it to the state tournaments this spring.

So to everybody, thanks for the memories and congratulations to Wister on a job well done.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thanks, Carroll

Carroll Rogers served as commissioner of Dist. 1 in LeFlore County for several years and was most recently chairman of the commissioners.

He was defeated by Derwin Gist in the 2010 election, but made sure to give the county a gift before leaving office.

Rogers ordered supplies from various venders in his last year, even though the purchases were not approved by the commissioners, as they should have been, and went way over his budget.

He made purchases of some $400,000 from the businesses. When the invoices were presented for payment, county officials quickly figured out these purchases had never been approved.

That left the three current commissioners in a bind. The purchases were not approved in any meeting, plus the funds were not available. Initially, the requests for money were turned down by the commissioners since, of course, the purchases had never been approved.

This wasn’t fair for the various businesses, of course, since they were out a lot of money in filling orders from the county, or to be accurate, a county commissioner.

Some of these orders were rather large and would put the businesses in a bind. So the businesses filed a “friendly lawsuit” against LeFlore County, seeking the money owed.

Now, the commissioners along with other county leaders are deciding what to do. Unfortunately, it looks like the invoices will be paid as the county will have to take care of it or a judgment could be entered against the county.

Actually, it is not technically the county which will have to pay these debts. It will be the tax payers of LeFlore County.

Our taxes will be raised to pay these bills, even though most of the county did not benefit.

This is not right, of course, but apparently is the only option available. Whether anything can be done to Rogers either in a criminal or civil manner is unknown, not that it would bail out the tax payers.

So thanks, Carroll.