FOOTBALL TEAM TAKES STATE

For the first time in Poteau’s history, the football team has won a state championship.

BRINGING+HOME+THE+GOLD%3A+The+Pirate+Football+Team+poses+with+their+first+gold+ball.+

Submitted by Bailey Pickle

BRINGING HOME THE GOLD: The Pirate Football Team poses with their first gold ball.

Bailey Pickle, Sports Editor

The state final game was held in Edmond at the University of Central Oklahoma stadium. It was only the fourth time Poteau has even competed in the finals.

 

Last year, the Pirates advanced to the semifinals before being defeated by Tuttle in Jenks. That was not enough for the team, though. They wanted to go all the way.

 

The pressure was on for the Pirates to win. Mayor White declared December 6th ‘Beat the Eagles Day’ and schools across the county sent cards to the football coaches. Despite the pressure, many players on the team felt excitement more than fear.

 

Many of the players were incredibly confident leading up to the big game, like seniors Easton Francis and BJ Kniesley.

 

“I wasn’t really nervous. I took it as just another game,” said quarterback Easton Francis.  “just a bigger stage.” 

 

“It was more excitement than anything,” BJ Kniesley, #7, said.  “We had it in the bag.”

 

However, some players, like Jaydin Mankin, did not feel similarly.

 

“I was 100% nervous,” Mankin said.  Mankin scored Poteau’s only touchdown during the game. “The feeling was great, but [winning] it with my brothers was the best feeling,” he said, regarding the moment he entered the endzone.  To see more of the Pirate Log’s interview with Mankin, click here

 

Playing in a state championship can be intimidating, but Francis likes to get in the right headspace by listening to music. He also recommends this to other people. 

 

“I just listen to music [in the moments leading up to kickoff],” Francis said. “Music should change people; it did me.” 

 

“The words ‘4A State Championship’ will hype anyone up,” said Kniesley of mental preparation. 

 

When the team arrived back in Poteau, they were greeted by crowds of people lining the streets cheering for them. Community members held signs and banners expressing their pride. Police cars led the buses from Spiro to Poteau. 

 

“It’s like an army entering Rome,” said Coach Mike Odom of the football team’s final return to Poteau. 

 

After arriving at the field house, Head Coach Werner personally presented each football player with a medal. Werner called out each of the 67 players’ names by memory.