Along with a district title, one member of the Skiatook football team has brought home an individual accolade.
With 2,030 yards, running back Kyle McLaughlin ran for more regular season rushing yards than any other Oklahoma high school football player, regardless of classification. The Skiatook senior edged past Eufaula’s Shane Moore for the distinction by three yards, thanks in part to his 296 yards on 15 carries Friday night in a 78-30 win over Noble. McLaughlin also has 20 touchdowns on the season, including five from Friday night.
“We call our team a family puzzle and he’s a piece of it,” Skiatook coach Vance Miller said. “He’s really athletic and does a great job running the football. This is just something we’re really proud of.”
Both McLaughlin and Miller were quick to share the credit for the award with the Bulldogs’ offensive linemen, including Gavin Hall, Grant Appleberg, Dylan Thompson, Bradley Magalassi, Justin Powell and Beau Wooden.
“It means a lot,” McLaughlin said. “It’s something that I have to give a lot of credit to my linemen, because they wanted it as badly as I did. It’s a great thing to have and a lot of work has paid off.”
Some of that hard work came in the form of manual labor during the offseason. The nephew of U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, McLaughlin spent part of his summer as a ranch hand out in Adair County and plumber’s assistant with Mullin Plumbing – two jobs that provided plenty of cross-training and strength building opportunities.
“That built up some farm-boy strength,” he said. “I was chasing cattle through brush in the Ozark foothills, out in the ditches with a shovel and hauling PVC pipe around. It worked so many different muscles while out there, but it helped a lot.”
Just two years removed from an 0-10 campaign, McLaughlin and his teammates earned the school’s first football district title in 40 years with the Week 10 win over Noble and finished the regular season atop the Tulsa World’s Class 5A rankings.
“We’ve seen both sides,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve been where we had maybe 20 fans in the stands. Now we’re seeing some thousand odd people in the stands. Losing is addictive, but so is winning. We’re just very grateful for the support we’ve received from the community.”
That losing season, plus last year’s near upset of Pryor in the first round, has Skiatook focused on this year’s first round playoff opponent, who has also experienced extended losing streaks in recent memory. The Bulldogs (9-1) will open the postseason at 7 p.m. Friday at home against the Tahlequah Tigers (5-5), who qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2001 by virtue of a fourth place finish in District 5A-4.
“We’ve talked to our kids and have compared it (the playoffs) to March Madness – anything can happen,” Miller said. “We’re both 0-0 in the postseason, so we have to take care of business.”
The winner of Friday night’s game will face either No. 4 Guthrie (9-1) or No. 6 Altus (7-2) on Nov. 21.
Two other Osage County football teams will be in action Friday night as the OSSAA playoffs get underway.
The Pawhuska Huskies (5-5, 4-2) finished third in District 2A-8 and will open at Colcord, the District 2A-7 runner-up. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with the winner to play either Stroud or Antlers the following Friday. Pawhuska had the opportunity to potentially earn a first-round playoff game if it upset undefeated No. 4 Nowata in Week 10, but came away with a 47-20 Senior Night loss.
In Class A, the Hominy Bucks (7-3, 4-2) also finished third in their district. They will travel to Oklahoma City’s north side to play District A-5 runner-up Crossings Christian School (7-3, 5-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with the winner to play either Ketchum or Quinton on Nov. 21.
by Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton