PRYOR, OK —
It's been a whirlwind second season for Pryor head football coach Jason Freeman.
From a winter trek to Michigan to learn a brand-new offense, to a Week 3 loss to lowly Miami and a thrilling 27-22 playoff win over Skiatook last week, Freeman has his team one win away from the school's first-ever trip to the state football semifinals.
The Tigers will also have to make one of the longest journeys in the state (233 miles) to play Lawton MacArthur Saturday.
I chatted with Freeman Monday about the upcoming game and what a win would mean for the program:
Chuck Porter: You have to travel to Lawton Saturday. What are your plans for the extra day of practice?
Jason Freeman: Monday is our extra day. We'll start preparing that day, going over scouting reports, things like that. Tuesday will be our normal Monday, and we'll go from there. I'll probably scale it back a little, not as much contact. The big thing is keeping everyone healthy and fresh, but at the same time making sure we're still sharp.
CP: It's going to be long road trips for you guys from here on out, but you've only lost one road game so far this season (at Miami). What's different about the team now compared to Week 3?
JF: We were in a totally different defense against Miami. A three-front. We changed to a four-front after that. It fit us better, fit our personnel better. And offensively, what we're doing, I mean, that was the first week of a new offense. We were really in the fire. We were still learning things we should do and things we should practice to not turn the ball over as much. The other night (Round 1 against Skiatook) they turned it over once and we didn't turn it over at all, and that was the difference ... We've played pretty good defense the last four games.
CP: What about the mindset of the players?
JF: We're in the semifinals. We're one of the final eight teams. That's pretty good, especially when you're picked 20th overall in the preseason and sixth in the district. My guys believe they can compete. They believe in what we're doing offensively, they believe in what we're doing defensively, and they believe in themselves. They believe than can go compete and be in the game no matter who we play ... We validated our season by getting to the quarterfinals. I felt like we played good enough to be a final eight team, and now we're playing for history.
CP: When you run into people around town, what kinds of things do they say?
JF: It's encouragement. I've had some people come up at church now and then, but it's really not about the football. I've had some talk about how I relate to the players, things like that, but it's been a lot of encouragement. [Praise] isn't why I do it. I do it for the players. It's awesome to see them grow ... to where they're at now, that's the reason I coach.
Pryor and Lawton MacArthur will play for a spot in the Class 5A state semifinals at 4 p.m. Saturday.