Woodward, Okla. —
A strong finish put an exclamation point on an already solid year in sports in Northwest Oklahoma.
Football always takes the spotlight in this state and the local and area gridiron squads delivered big years.
Laverne led the way with its second consecutive 14-0 season and second consecutive Class B state championship. The Tigers capped of the perfect season with a 42-12 win over Pond Creek-Hunter. For the Panthers, it was their fourth loss to Laverne over the past 2 years, including 2 in the state finals.
Along the way, Laverne was seriously challenged only a couple of times. On opening night, the Tigers used a big second half to turn away Shattuck, then in the state semifinals, they trailed 20-6 at halftime before coming back to win 30-20 over Rejoice Christian.
In Class 4A, the Woodward Boomers stepped up with first winning season since 2001 and first 8-game win year since 1996.
A veteran club made it to the state quarterfinals for the second time in 3 years, losing 28-21 to Lawrence Evitt and Wagoner in the state quarterfinals.
During the year, the Boomers had the best chance of anyone to beat eventual state champion Anadarko, dropping an 18-15 verdict with the Warriors scoring in the final minute of the game.
But their best moment possibly came in the first round of the playoffs with a 49-7 victory over Ada.
It was one of the most compete performances by a Boomer team in a long while as they scored just about every way possible - offense, defense and special teams - and routed one of the most tradition-rich programs in Oklahoma on their home field.
Very impressive, indeed.
In Class C, the area had 2 semifinal teams with Shattuck returning to the playoffs after a year's absence and advancing to face eventual champion Cherokee. The Indians lost 32-6 but signaled that they intend to be a factor in the future.
Sharon-Mutual nearly got its chance at Cherokee, but lost a heartbreaker 42-40 to Tipton in a double overtime semifinal game. The Trojans rallied from a 28-12 half-time deficit to force overtime.
Waynoka also made the playoffs in Class C.
In Class A, Mooreland posted a second consecutive 6-4 record but missed the playoffs. Next year, the Bearcats figure to challenge in a revamped district as they return the bulk of their players.
The 2013 season saw the return of Bruce Hendrickson to the football sideline as he took the job at Seiling and had the Wildcats in the hunt for a playoff spot until the last couple of weeks.
With a strong group returning, the Wildcats also figure to be in the mix next season.
Football isn't the only sport that brought a state championship to Northwest Oklahoma.
The Arnett Wildcats capped off a big year with a victory over Coyle to win the Class B state basketball championship.
In a remarkable performance, the Wildcats fell behind by 21 points, then stormed back for the 71-60 victory with Tyler Tune scoring 39 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. Trevor Bryant added another 17 points.
As 2013 ended, the new basketball season was under way and Arnett's boys were ranked No. 1, ahead of rival Forgan, which won state in 2012 and 2011.
Shattuck's girls reached the state semifinals and Leedey girls and Laverne boys were also state tournament qualifiers.
The Boomer basketball teams both lost in the regional finals and this year, the boys are off to a 3-0 start and ranked 13th in Class 4A.
Wrestling also takes place in the winter and Woodward's Kyler Ferguson became a state medalist as a junior, finishing fourth.
More state gold came to the area in the spring.
Leedey's girls captured the Class B slow pitch softball championship and Mooreland's girls reached the state semifinals.
In track, Sharon-Mutual's John Custar won his third consecutive Class A state shot put championship.
Mooreland's Kayla Wilson set a Class 2A state meet record in winning her second long jump championship.
Another title came from Kanini Jones of Fort Supply-Buffalo, in the Class A girls shot put.
Woodward's Micah Kee turned in a third place effort in the Class 4A long jump.
In golf, Laverne freshman Mason Overstreet captured the Class A individual state championship.
During the summer, Woodward fans saw plenty of exciting baseball from the Traveler teams as well as the state's top high school rodeo competitors in the state finals, and many of the world's best cowboys in the 83rd Woodward Elks Rodeo.
And, football wasn't the only fall sport.
In baseball, the Leedey Bison reached the championship round in Class B before losing to Asher.
Arnett's fastpitch softball team advanced to the state semifinals and Mooreland to the quarterfinals.
That's a lot of highlights wrapped into the year - and indeed, just a sampling of the success of area athletes in 2013.
Here's to a great 2014 sports campaign as well.