ZZ Top, Patti LaBelle and Kenny Rogers are coming to Thackerville soon, but one group already has the town rocking — the Thackerville Wildcats.


Led by their front man — and All-Ardmoreite Coach of the Year — Cody McCage.


ZZ Top, Patti LaBelle and Kenny Rogers are coming to Thackerville soon, but one group already has the town rocking — the Thackerville Wildcats.

Led by their front man — and All-Ardmoreite Coach of the Year — Cody McCage.

“All (citizens) have been able to talk about is (the season) since we got on a roll and started winning,” McCage said Tuesday. “The community’s been very excited and they live for Friday nights.”

In music, you can’t have the rock without the roll. The Wildcats were 0-9 in their first season back on the field — McCage’s first at the helm — and their roll actually started with a 4-6 mark in 2006.

Then came a 6-4 record last year, and a 13-1, state runner-up finish this season, the best in school history. All while rocking Wildcat nation in the process.

McCage played in Thackerville’s only playoff victory before 2008 — back in 1993, and he’s been there for the Wildcats’ high and low notes.
 

“Thackerville’s always loved their football,” McCage said. “A lot of people were upset when it died out (due to low numbers in the early 2000s) and were anxious to get it back. Once we did, we had the support behind us. Even when we were 0-9, we still had a lot of people in the stands.”

All the coach wanted to do was get rolling with some wins. He set a goal for the Wildcats to simply improve each practice, and they responded by improving with four wins.

“We knew we had a good group when (the 2008 seniors) were freshmen,” McCage said. “These seniors knew if they stuck together and hit the weight room, they’d be pretty good. They did that.”

McCage said the Wildcats’ newfound success was a long time coming. Well, so has the chance to play for a state championship.

The Wildcats finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in Class C, but three decisive victories later, they would do no worse than take home a silver ball.

“I just wanted to get through it (the season) without having a bad game,” quarterback and cousin Hunter McCage said. “It all kind of fell into place and we got rolling from there.”

Thackerville gave eventual six-year reigning champ Shattuck all it could handle before losing 68-44 in Mustang on Dec. 6.

“That wasn’t no fun,” Hunter McCage said. “Wasn’t that great. They just beat us up at the end.”
 

But the Wildcats didn’t get to the big show without posting astounding numbers and key victories.

Hunter McCage passed for 2,724 yards and 44 touchdowns. His favorite target, Tague Hinkley, had 79 catches for 1,624 yards, and Aaron Vondrak rushed 157 times for 1,191 yards and 24 touchdowns.

As for the wins, Thackerville paid back Grandfield, the 2007 finalist that knocked the Cats out of playoff contention, beat state-ranked Corn Bible and defeated District C-2 rival Temple twice — once in the semifinals.

“Any time you can beat a team that’s had a lot of tradition like Temple twice, you know you got a good football team,” Cody McCage said.

That good football team rocked to a historical season with Cody leading the charge and Hunter calling the signals.

“Having my kinfolk at one of the starting positions, it’s been special, but it’s been special with all the other kids.”

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Erik K. Horne contributed to this story.

I.C. Murrell,
(580) 221-6527
ic.murrell@ardmoreite.com