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Tight-knit Tigers determined to kick off season with win over Ada

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

In such uncertain times, there’s no guarantee that athletes have enough time to become a tight-knit group as they did in previous seasons. But don’t tell that to the Ardmore High School football team, which has taken strides to be ready for its 2020 season opener at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4 against Ada at Noble Stadium.

“Overall, the entire team has had a tremendous summer,” said Ardmore head coach Josh Newby. “We had great attendance, great effort and attitude. I like our locker room right now as far as the chemistry goes. We have a lot of good things going, we just have to execute on the field.”

Only time will tell how Ardmore fares when it steps on the field, but it has extra motivation on its side after losing a close one to the Cougars in 2019.

“Ada is very well coached, coach (Chris) Berus does a tremendous job,” Newby said. “Last year they beat us 7-0. We couldn’t score and they earned every bit of it. We’re excited about this year. We just know we have to execute offensively, play really good defense and hopefully we can get it done.”

However, the Tigers will have a different signal caller under center in 2020 as Cal Swanson takes over the starting role. And the sophomore should have plenty of time to make plays with an experienced offensive line blocking for him.

“The whole staff is excited about Cal,” Newby said. “He gives an opportunity to do things offensively that we haven’t been able to do around here in a long time. And he wants to play quarterback, which is half the battle. We’re very excited about him and his development.”

The Tigers line up to run a play during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 26. Ardmore looks to avenge a 7-0 loss to Ada last season when the two teams meet Friday night.

Swanson’s progress will no doubt play a large role in Ardmore’s overall success, but that shouldn’t be an issue with a coaching staff that is prepared for whatever the opponent has planned.

“Ada has a very good offensive scheme — they execute it very well,” Newby said. “And then defensively, coach (Mart) Leming, who runs their defense, always has those kids playing hard and in position. We have our hands full — our kids know it. But we’re excited and I know their kids will be excited, too.”

And that excitement level is at an all-time high considering there could easily have been no 2020 football season for Oklahoma high schools. A number of other states have moved the sport to the spring, but not in the Sooner State. 

“With COVID going on, we’re just excited to have a ball game,” Newby said. “We’re going to appreciate every moment that we have. We all know that this could be taken away from us at any point in time, so we’re going to enjoy and cherish it. We’re only given 10 ball games a year and we work year-round for them, so every Friday night is special to our kids.”