As the old saying goes, “There’s a first time for everything.”

As the old saying goes, “There’s a first time for everything.”

For Ardmore offensive line coach Mark Linney, he’ll get to add a first in his coaching career this Friday night. 

After a 19 year run as a member of the Ardmore coaching staff, Linney was selected to be the head coach of the West squad for Friday night’s All-State football game, which will take place at Tulsa Union High School. 

“It’s a great honor, I can’t tell you how I felt, I choked up ” Linney said. “I hoped to be elected to coach, but I had no idea that I would be selected as the head coach.”

Linney will be entering his 20th season with the Tigers this fall, and his 34th overall. 

Before coaching with the Tigers he was an assistant at Plainview and Durant, and was a head coach at Wilburton.

Coming with Linney from Ardmore will be Brayden Bryant and Sitani Lemeki. Bryant will not be playing in the game due to post high school obligations. 

Seeing how well the Tigers are represented in the game is an honor for Linney.

“It is just a testament to our program at Ardmore, from Mr. (Kim) Holland the superintendent, to Mr. (James) Meece our principal to head coach (Josh) Newby our AD (athletic director),” Linney said. “It is just a testament to the kind of program we have at Ardmore.”

Even though this is the first time he will be coaching in the game, Linney has been around the all-state game before.

“My father coached in this game in 1974,” Linney said so it really meant a lot to me.”

Linney’s father, Jerry Linney, coached the east side during the 1974 game representing Wilburton.

The players and coaches have started practicing for Friday nights game, hoping a weeks worth of practice can get everyone on the same page.

Through the first couple of practices, Linney said the team has been working on finding a common language between the players and staff has been the main goal so far.

Getting a chance to coach the best players in the state has Linney excited for the game, but it is also a reminder of how quickly the next season is approaching. 

With just a few weeks left until the start of the school year, Linney took a chance to reflect on how special last season was for him.

“Everyone really talks about the wins and losses and everything, but I look back on the relationships,” Linney said. “That is what makes coaching so special,you don’t just coach the kid. You probably spend more time with those kids than their parents do. It is those relationships you develop with this kids.”