THACKERVILLE — Even in southern Oklahoma, November is a little early for track season.
Nobody told Cody McCage and the Thackerville football team.
The Wildcats have sprinted to a 9-1 record this year, largely on the strength of a dynamic offense that has torn apart the eight-man teams of Class C this season. In the past four games, Thackerville has reached new heights in its dash for the end zone, averaging a healthy 64.5 points in those contests.
"That's just part of eight-man," McCage said. "There's a lot of wide-open space that can be exploited."
This past Friday, the Wildcats may have put together an offensive magnum opus to define the year.
The final score: Thackerville 88, Bluejacket 60.
Yes, it was played on grass, not hardwood.
Quarterback Tanner McCage, the coach's cousin, just couldn't stay out of the end zone in the victory, scoring five rushing touchdowns to go along with three passing.
"It was something else," Tanner said. "I didn't even realize how many points had been scored until the fourth quarter."
McCage has been one of the biggest parts of what makes the team tick, not only in his production but his decision-making. The junior has yet to throw an interception.
"If you've got a guy who can run the ball and throw it, it's going to make you pretty good," his coach said. "But what separates Tanner is how smart he is with the football, especially with as much as we throw."
One of his targets, senior receiver Cade Rains, suspected that the game would be a barnburner when the teams played to a 36-32 halftime score in favor of Bluejacket.
"We came out and got off to a good start, and everything just kind of went from there," Rains said. "Everybody was just clicking."
All this has been done with a roster of just 15 players. That means when the team wants to do scrimmages, they can't even field full teams for offense and defense.
That just leaves it up to McCage to find creative ways to get work in for his offense, such as removing a lineman.
"It's tough some days, and we have to do some stuff in pieces," Rains said. "But we work hard with what we can, and it seems like we've been alright so far."
This week will present the toughest challenge yet for the Wildcats when Sharon-Mutual (10-1) comes to town.
In 11 games, only one team has scored more than 14 points against the Trojans. Like Thackerville, Sharon-Mutual has continued to improve its results, shutting out three of its last five opponents and allowing a grand total of 18 points over that stretch.
It's a challenge the confident Wildcats squad is ready to face.
Page 2 of 2 - "They're strong up front, so they're going to be able to put pressure on the quarterback," Coach McCage said. "(Tanner) wants to make those quick reads as fast as he can and get the ball out quickly."
His quarterback made no predictions. Instead, he seemed to hope the work the team has done this year speaks for itself on the field.
Or the track.
"We're just going to try to come out and do what we've done all year," McCage said.