Adam Troxtell, Sports Editor, email@example.com
For the first time this fall, JT Cobble will hold his own torch in the cavernous world of coaching.
After 13 years of coaching alongside his father, Chickasha head coach Tom Cobble, Stilwell will offer JT his first opportunity to take charge of a football program. While it may be three hours away from the coaching family that raised him, he'll certainly carry all that he learned along for the ride.
"I've been molded by the best possible person to take a program and turn it around," JT said. "It's time for me to take advantage of that. I think the Cobble name helped me get the job, and I plan on carrying that name forward throughout the rest of my career."
As all coaches desire, JT leaves Chickasha in a better way than he, his father and the entire staff found it. They guided this latest class of Fightin' Chicks players to the program's first playoff appearance since 2006, with JT as offensive coordinator.
Before that, he was alongside Tom for a first stint at Chickasha and later Enid as the wide receivers coach. He took the step up to offensive coordinator when they moved to El Reno for three years and kept that title on the return to Fightin' Chicks football.
"He's got great experience," Tom said. "We've coached together for 13 years and he's prepared very well. It's a great opportunity and we've very excited."
Of course, there is a bittersweet feeling to all of this. Tom has overseen his son's high school football career from player to coach, and JT said he regularly visits his parents' house for Sunday dinners. His mother, Lela, is a Chickasha teacher.
"My relationship with my parents is unique," JT said. "It was hard to accept the job because you have the factor of the unknown, this being my first head coaching job, but also it's three and a half hours away."
But JT said he feels now is the right time and Stilwell is the right opportunity.
"I've always said it had to be the right job," he said. "I got the impression that they want to do what needs to be done to have a good football team. They have some great athletes, and the key is getting them out for football.
"They've taken a leap of faith with me. At the end of the day, they said they liked the excitement and energy that I bring. "
He also feels that the offensive set-up at Stilwell will be similar to that which helped the Fightin' Chicks to the postseason last year, making the transition easier.
Stilwell has a tough district to maneuver, with the likes of Sallisaw, Cascia Hall and Poteau gracing their schedule next season.
As for Chickasha, they'll add offensive coordinator to the list of roles to fill ahead of the preseason, along with an offensive line coach and a ninth grade coach. Cobble said they are in the process of conducting interviews.