ARKOMA (KFSM)–Follow the horseshoes on the road along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border and you’ll find yourself on the Arkoma football field. This is a field that was once in danger of losing its team altogether due to lack of interest. Now it stands in the shadow of a new water tower with “Mustangs” emblazoned on the side, and the team that calls its surface home is coming off one of the best seasons in their 8-man history.
“The town and the football team go hand in hand,” says head coach Mark Weatherton, entering his tenth season at the helm. “If we play they’re here, and if we go on the road they’re there too.”
In a record-setting 2016 the Mustangs went 10-2 and made the second round of the playoffs.
“We went a few years without making the playoffs, but now the last couple of years we’ve not only made the playoffs but won a game,” says Weatherton. “That’s kind of what the town expects now, and I want them to expect that.”
The Mustangs graduated a strong senior class, but retain most of their line. When it comes to skill positions, there's been some maneuvering to fill the gaps. Senior Jason Pryor moves from wide receiver to quarterback, and Isaiah Cobbe moves from tailback to receiver. And this is a big year for the Mustangs.
"We're all or nothing," says Weatherton. "We've got a bunch of seniors and a bunch of freshman and not much in between, so freshman are really having to provide some depth and that's going to be a big question mark for us."
The Arkoma season is also starting earlier than normal. The Mustangs play a zero week game this year, kicking off their season tonight against Southwest Covenant.
"It worries me a little bit, says Weatherton. "I'd rather have another scrimmage, but it is what it is. We gotta go play so we're gonna give it our best shot."
You can be sure whether its week zero or week eleven, the Mustangs will be out on that field, and Arkoma will be right there with them.