MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - Much like TU, Muskogee football is on an upswing, from three wins to nine.

"Not satisfied, obviously,” said head coach Rafe Watkins. “We felt like we should have been in the finals, but we didn't get the job taken care of."

A year after a three-win season, the Muskogee Roughers finished 2016 seven points shy of a state title berth. This year, they intend to change that.

“They know what it takes now. The hard work has paid off,” said Watkins. “A first, they didn't really understand that when you're going 3-7, 3-7, but then last year, going 9-2 and realizing the hard work really is paying off."

Quarterback Jacob Medrano added, "We've got a lot more confidence. Confidence is key because if we don't have confidence, we can't win games, and we're here to win games and win championships."

Medrano is one key returner, the starting quarterback from a year ago and a member of a senior class that's only known Watkins as the Roughers' head coach.

"We've been doing the same thing for four years, so they've known it since they were freshmen,” said Watkins. 

With all the confidence, the Roughers still have some questions, namely, the offensive line; Muskogee must replace the entire starting unit from a year ago. Watkins likes the guys he has in the spots right now but says it'll take a little time."

"The knowledge part of it they know,” he said. “The physicality part they're still getting used to and the speed of it."

Medrano said, "I've been playing with these guys since about fourth grade, so I have trust. I trust them. I know they can do it, and they know they can do it."

So, for the Roughers, it's state title or bust.