PRYOR, OK —
While the dust is still settling from gut-wrenching losses Friday for Adair and Locust Grove, the 2013 football season was undeniably a success for area football teams.
Fortunes changed like the fall leaves for several county football programs, including the Pirates, who strung together 12 straight wins for their first undefeated regular season since 1955. That included a district title, LG's first since 1992.
Pryor notched eight wins and a berth in the Class 5A state quarterfinals. The Tigers were less than four minutes away from securing their first spot in a state semifinal in the modern era and boasted two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time in school history.
Salina racked up nine wins in its third year under head coach Kyle Fowler and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Chouteau won its first district game since 2007 and was just minutes away from a playoff bid. The Wildcats' four wins were the program's most since 2005.
Adair, which lost the core of its state quarterfinal group from a year ago, still found a way to return to third-round with a skill group made up primarily of freshmen and sophomores. The result was painfully familiar, but after the heartbreak, 2014 will see the Warriors open as a state title favorite.
All told, the county's teams went 44-16 (.750) in 2013, an average record of 9-3. Four county teams made the playoffs, compared to just one (Adair) in 2012. Pryor (5A No. 9), Locust Grove (3A No. 7) and Adair (2A No. 6) all finished in the top 10 of their respective Associated Press polls to end the year, while Salina finished No. 12 in 2A.
Three teams (Locust Grove, Salina, Adair) combined to lose a total of six games — all to teams which finished the regular season with perfect 10-0 records. LG and Adair won their respective districts, while Pryor and Salina claimed runner-up finishes with 6-1 district records.
Some individual accolades have already poured in, with several Tulsa World players of the week (Locust Grove's Cory Rohde, Trevor Taylor and Jason Pirtle; Pryor's Brennon Barth) and dozens of all-district selections.
There's not a dud in the group.
Certainly there's a lot to like about 2013, but even more to like going forward. Chouteau's Mark Jones, Locust Grove's Matt Hennesy and Pryor's Jason Freeman have all changed their programs' attitudes toward success, and Fowler and Adair head coach Mark Lippe have bolstered and enriched the traditions in their towns.
As good as 2013 was, it might just be a harbinger of things to come.