Lawton High School has been playing football for more than 100 years and the Wolverines remain one of the winningest programs in the United States.
However, the Wolverines were handed losses by both Eisenhower and MacArthur, something that hasn’t happened in many years.
The annual Ike-LHS rivalry is the oldest of the three intracity games and for many alumni who showed up, it was tough to see the Wolverines struggling last week in a 41-33 loss to the Eagles.
“We have to improve in all phases of the game,” senior middle linebacker Tamarcus Malone said before practice Tuesday. “I like the aggressive nature of defense but we have to get better as we enter district.”
Malone’s job involves making reads and then reacting to what he sees.
“The first read I make is to follow the guard because he will take me to the ball,” the 6-3, 230-pound senior said. “I feel we are getting better but we have to be locked in and not make the mistakes like we had against Ike. Special teams were not good at all. We had a kickoff return for a touchdown but right after we scored they returned the next kickoff for a score against us. We also were unable to recover a couple of onside kicks. On those we are supposed to call ‘hot’ and the second line is supposed to come up and recover the ball but that didn’t happen. It really cost us in that game.”
Last season that was never an issue as Joseph Kim was almost 100 percent when it came to booming kickoffs into the end zone where teams couldn’t return them.
“Joseph Kim was so good about booming them into the end zone and our kicker (Raiden Jenkins) trained with him so he should be able to get those kickoffs longer,” Malone said. “But when the kicks are short, we have to do a better job of coming up and recovering the ball.”
Malone loves to spend his free time working on his vehicles.
“I have a car and a pickup and I have been able to do some of the repairs and upkeep on them,” he said. “I’ve changed a water pump and head gaskets and some other things. My goal is to open a couple of businesses and make them successful but I am also hoping to go to college first.”
When it comes to eating, middle linebackers have the same eagerness to dine just as intensely as the linemen.
“There is nothing better than a good chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy over the entire plate,” he said. “That meal is always a great way to celebrate any special occasion.”
One factor that may be slowing down the Wolverines’ improvement is the lack of good leaders and the small senior class could be at the heart of that issue.
“We don’t have many seniors and that’s why the entire team needs to step up and become more vocal,” he said. “We need a spark moving forward into district games and the entire team needs to push the others to play harder and make better decisions. It is important for us to improve in all phases of the game; that’s what we must do to be competitive in our district.”
The Wolverines also have to go on the road Friday to face Putnam City and since this is one of the toss-up games LHS will face, it is vital for the Wolverines to get a win to gain some momentum before returning home to face Ponca City and Northwest Classen, two more games that appear to be toss-ups; games LHS needs to win to aid its bid to make the playoffs.