Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Talihina streaking on

The night was Oct. 26, 2007.

It was a late-season football game when Talihina visited Warner. The final score was Warner 9, Talihina 0.

Just another football game, right?


That night was the last time Talihina lost a regular-season football game.

Since that fall evening four years ago, Talihina has played 35 regular-season football games. Some have been close, many have not. Players have come and gone.

But the end result has not changed. The Tigers walked off the field as winners.

The only losses during that stretch have come in the playoffs.

This was supposed to be the year when things changed. Talihina lost one of the most talented groups of seniors our county has ever seen.

The stockpile is not empty. Far from it.

Talihina has gone 4-0 so far this season and will likely make that 5-0 on Friday when the Tigers host a struggling Panama team which has not won a game this year.

There have been some very good players along the way, no team could achieve that kind of record without some talent.

But there has obviously been some excellent coaching, as well. Kelly Gravitt and his staff have constantly won, first in Class A and the last two years in 2A.

This might be his best coaching job. The early schedule has not been difficult, but Talihina has improved each week.

Now Gravitt and his Tigers are preparing for their first district game on Friday. In addition to the long winning streak, Talihina has won three district champions in a row.

The Tigers do not have an easy road in front of them in their bid for number four. First off, Panama, then a big challenge the following week against Pocola. Followed by Heavener, Wilburton and Hartshorne.

Then, of course, comes the big challenge. It is too early to say if the Tigers will still be perfect after nine games. But don't be surprised if they are.

That is when the biggest challenge to the streak awaits.


The Wolverines are a monster this year and just beat a previously undefeated Pocola team, 75-6, in the district opener for both teams. And yes, the Wolverines will want revenge after Talihina defeated them in the regular-season finale last year for that third straight district championship.

But Pocola won't be easy. Heavener is struggling at 1-3. Wilburton can cause some problems while Hartshorne is improved.

Still, don't be surprised if the small school from the southern part of the county keeps winning and is 9-0 heading into that showdown.

Winning can be contagious as the Tigers have shown.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two thoughts and suggestions...

On an early Monday morning, here are a couple of thoughts and suggestions.

In the past, it was never a problem of having football games start at 7:30 p.m. That was, of course, before the dreaded spread formation caught on and teams started passing way too much.

Former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes said, "There are three things that can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them aren't good." And that did not even take into consideration three-or four hour games.

Now, many teams pass the ball on roughly three out of four plays. Unfortunately, some (or many) of those passes are incomplete.

When that happens, the clock stops. After a running play, the clock keeps going unless the runner goes out of bounds or picks up a first down.

With so many passes being thrown, games are lasting longer…and longer. Used to be a game would get over at 9:30 p.m. or so. Two hours, good entertainment and not so long people would lose interest.

Now some of the games last longer than one of those “epic’ movies that are expected to win an Oscar.

Or even as long as an eight-man game.

That is too long. I know this will be hard to grasp, but Arkansas actually did something smart. The schools in Arkansas now start games at 7 p.m.

Yeah, that makes travel a little difficult, but I would definitely endorse this idea.

High school football games do not need to end at 10:15 or 10:30 at night. How is Bob Marchant supposed to stay up that late? How am I? Fans lose interest after a certain point, as do the players.

Two years ago, I covered a Central game at Talihina. I believe there were less than 10 passes thrown in the game.


I was able to avoid hitting Bambi on the way home, and arrive home before most of the other games in the county were over that night. And some wonder why I enjoy covering Talihina games.

Personally, I say bring back the wishbone, the veer and the Power-I and run the stinking ball, not only because it makes the game quicker, but that is the way high school football should be played. Most 16-17 year old kids do not need to be throwing a football 40 to 50 times a night.

So as long as the spread continues to rule, the games need to start earlier.

One other suggestion Oklahoma needs to change: volleyball.

Volleyball? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. I am not a big fan of volleyball even though I covered it back in the Texas era. But it can be exciting, honest.

Some schools already play volleyball, but not many of the smaller ones. This is a sport more schools need to pick up. Play volleyball in the fall and move fast-pitch softball to the spring.

Get rid of slow pitch. That sport needs to be reserved for the beer drinkers and church leagues. Most girls don’t even like the slow-pitch version.

Volleyball is much more exciting than slow pitch, plus aside from the bumps and bruises, is better exercise for the student-athletes.

None of the local schools play volleyball, except maybe in physical education classes.

But like the 7 p.m. start for football, it is something that needs to happen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Journal turns two

It's hard to believe in many ways, but the Journal turns two today. Sorry, no birthday cake or big celebration.

It was two years ago when we published this little website for the first time.

The first event I actually covered and wrote about was the Poteau and Mena football game.

Let's hope the terrible two does not apply, not that I think it will.

The times are a changing as Bob Dylan once wrote, and that is certainly true with the Journal. Sometime this week, maybe even today, we will have our 2,000th fan on the Journal's facebook page.

During these past two years, I have covered a bunch of events, both near and far. But all of our content is focused on our county, from the smallest community to the largest.

The goal from the very first post to the latest, which was Bobbie McAuliffe's In Simple Terms column today, is to inform our readers on what is going on in LeFlore County, from our towns, to the schools to the people and places.

Hopefully, we have done that. We have changed over these past two years with the biggest change coming in the last two weeks as the site has migrated from an old Frontpage site to one hosted on Wordpress.

Most of our readers seem to like the new look. A not very comprehensive survey on our Facebook poll was 5-1 in favor of the new look.

It is taking a little getting used to, but it will be better. It is easier to post stories and we don't have to worry about messed up links, thank goodness.

We can now add video, not that the Journal currently has a video camera, but this is a feature that hopefully will happen ASAP.

Thanks again to Jason Green for all his help in getting the new site set up and making it presentable. Also, thanks to all the people and businesses who have helped financially with donations and advertisements, and those of you of who have helped in all the other ways. I have thanked all of you many times before and thank you again.

And last, thanks to all of you readers, especially the ones who check in every day and who have spread the word.

During the last 18 months, I have published the Journal and also worked a full time job.

That means a lot of hours and means that the Journal has missed out on stories and events. It also means a lot of hours, such as last week's county tournament. But it has been worth all those early mornings and late nights in trying to keep you informed, educated and hopefully entertained.

It is my goal to keep making the Journal better and expand the coverage. I have thought, discussed and consulted with those close to me on what comes next. I have considered doing an actual newspaper and that might eventually come, but I have thought for the last few years that to succeed, you have to do things differently.

And the Journal is different. Hopefully, a difference that you enjoy. So thanks again and hopefully we will be celebrating another birthday on Sept. 19, 2012.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pirates show potential

Poteau has had some excellent offenses over the years.

The 2011 version could be one of the best, if Friday’s opening 38-35 win over Checotah is any indication.

Poteau used a quick strike passing attack to build a big lead, then come from behind twice in the fourth quarter to escape with the win.

Wilson Klutts threw for a career high 351 yards and four touchdowns for the Pirates, who have one of the best receiving groups in school history. Poteau has a bevy of talented receivers to stretch the defense and Klutts was on target most of the night.

A pair of seniors better known for excelling in other sports, showed they also have abilities in football as well.

Senior Jesse Woodson was better known as an outstanding soccer player before Friday’s game, but he quickly showed his talents are also suited for football, catching three touchdown receptions and also intercepting a pass in the final seconds to finally end the cliffhanger.

Blake Roley, who came out for football for his final year, is an outstanding pitcher in baseball and basketball player. He had seven catches, as did Woodson, and bounced back after two drops early.

While those two had the most catches, they are not Klutts’ only weapons. Five other receivers had at least one catch. Tyler Tustin, Kendrick Hardaway, Jace Pitchford and Dakota Clark all had catches while Jerrett Lowrimore also saw playing time.

It was apparent early this was not the same Poteau offense which struggled for most of last year. The Pirates scored early and often in building a quick 28-6 lead. Poteau moved the ball throughout, the only mistakes were a pair of interceptions in the third quarter, which ended potential scoring drives.

The only negatives to come out of the game, for the offense, was the running game struggled most of the night other than a pair of long runs by Klutts. He got the first touchdown on a 41-yard rush and a 29-yard carry in the fourth helped the Pirates regain the lead, only to see Checotah bounce back.

Poteau’s running backs had trouble finding running room behind the young offensive line, which did a good job for the most part in protecting Klutts. Starting running back Nick Donathan was struggling with an injury and only carried the ball four times.

There will be a lot of shootouts like last night unless the Poteau defense shows some improvement. After a solid first half, the Pirates were shredded by Checotah in the second half, before making a stand on fourth down to give the offense a final chance.

Checotah mixed in the pass and run to keep the Pirates’ defense confused. The Wildcats ran at will in the final half as the young Poteau defense had trouble tackling Checotah’s Brandon Mann, who finished with 142 yards rushing.

Poteau’s defense did make the big stop late and also intercepted two passes, one by Woodson and the other by Hardaway in the first half.