After spending more than three months always looking ahead to the next game, the Fighitin' Chicks finally got an evening to reminisce a season with plenty to be happy about.
A touchdown run by senior Josh Latham in the final minutes of the game against Duncan secured Chickasha its first playoff spot since 2006. It was appropriate, then, that Latham be handed the Player of the Year award at the Chickasha Football Banquet Monday night for providing so much to that achievement and for his 601 yards rushing off 106 carries this year.
Latham was one of seven seniors honored with awards that night as the program bid a heart-felt goodbye to the players who had spent three years under head coach Tom Cobble toiling away to return the Fightin' Chicks to post-season football.
"Two years ago, I said we must build a winning program before we can win games," Cobble said. "These seniors have done an incredible job. Building a football program takes commitment, you have to do a good job in the classroom, and you have to be a good citizen in your community. These guys could have folded their tents. For them, it was always about looking forward to the next game."
All of the Chickasha football players were honored for their part in a 5-6 (3-4) season at the ceremony in the Banquet Hall of the USAO Student Center. Traditionally seniors are the only ones that receive specific awards, and that's how it remained with some of the big names of the season garnering special recognition.
Quarterback Cade Morris, who spent an entire season free of injury until the final moments of the final game against Duncan, was given the Offensive Player of the Year award. He earned it mostly with his legs, racking up 860 rushing yards off 173 carries.
"As an offensive coordinator, it's nice to have a guy at quarterback that you can rely on," coach TJ Cobble said of the mobile Morris. "After spending three years around the same group of kids, you can always tell the ones who are going to succeed in anything they do."
T.J. Filer's team-leading 71 tackles and two sacks earned him the Defensive Lineman of the Year award. Coach Joe Moulder, who presented Filer with the award, said his exploits this season even cost him a steak dinner when Filer scooped up a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown.
Another defensive player, Evan Copeland, received the Fightin' Chick award after spending nearly half the season on the sidelines yet still recording 40 tackles and two sacks.
"This kid has done so much for the program while battling through injury," defensive coordinator Jerry Don Bray said. "Even when he was out, he would be there at practice, at games; he was a quiet leader."
Of all the sacks that the Fightin' Chicks got this season, it was the Defensive Player of the Year award winner Oron Bowman's effort that proved the most significant. His sack against Duncan sealed the win for Chickasha and added to his tally of seven total on the season along with 69 tackles.
Center Connor Crossley was given Offensive Lineman of the Year, as Tom Cobble pointed out the hard work he had put in to counterbalance his relatively small frame. John Phillips received the Iron Man award for his dedication to getting stronger in the weight room.
"I always tell these guys you leave two legacies," Cobble said to wrap things up. "One is what you do in your football program and the other is when they put you in your grave what you did with your life. These guys have the opportunity to leave two great legacies."