Originally Published: Aug 13, 2010 9:55 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Mobile Journalist
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma – Ron Lancaster’s final game as the head coach of the Broken Arrow Tigers didn’t end the way it was supposed to. On a cool night in November, with everything seemingly going its way, Broken Arrow somehow found a way to lose.
“We think about it every day,” senior wide receiver Todd Naftzger said before the team’s first practice of 2010.
Lancaster and the Tigers lost to Union 24-13, finishing the season with a 10-3 record. The way they lost still doesn’t sit well with the players still wearing black and gold.
They’re all rallying around one number – 4:29.
“It’s the time (of the game) when we let the guard down and made us lose the gold ball,” said Naftzger.
Four minutes and twenty nine seconds. That’s all it took for the Tigers to go from 6A title game-bound to just going home. The Redskins scored and then forced quarterback Archie Bradley to throw a crucial late-game interception that sealed Broken Arrow’s fate.
It was Lancaster’s last game on the sidelines.
“4:29 is everything to us,” said senior linebacker Casey Mathis. “It’s finishing the fourth quarter. It’s finishing the game off on a positive note.”
This year’s crop of Tigers has a renewed focus and an ultimate goal. In the minds of many who follow the program, the team has never been closer to winning a state championship. The players expect to be in the same position as last season, only with different results.
“I think it’d be a big deal, and it also changes the name of Broken Arrow forever,” Naftzger said. “They’ve never won it here, so we have to big chance to win it and be the first ones.”
The man in charge of making that happen is new head coach Steve Spavital. The former Union coach expects BA to compete in 6A because of the dedication he saw over the offseason.
“We’ve been working pretty diligently in the spring and in our team camps and skill camps to get them ready for that,” he said at practice. “It’s really exciting to go into the fall knowing all the hard work that they’ve done to get ready for this season.”
Broken Arrow has been close in the past, but never made it to the top of the mountain. With Spavital in charge, the Tigers may be ripe for a title.
“He knows us very well, and he knows what it takes to win a gold ball,” said Mathis. “He says we’re getting there.”
TEAM SNAP SHOT
Broken Arrow Tigers
2009: 10-3/6-1, second in 6A District 3
PLAYOFFS: Lost to Union in the state semifinals of the 2009 postseason.
BEST PLAYER: Archie Bradley. The senior quarterback may be the top QB in the state. The two-sport star has already committed to play football and baseball for Oklahoma in 2011. As he goes, the Tigers go.
BIGGEST GAME: Week 3, September 17th vs. Union. The rematch of the 2009 state semifinals will be heated. This year it’s in Broken Arrow. Two years ago it was the only field Union lost on en route to a gold ball. Expect fireworks in Week 3.