Roland, OK 74954
Record: 0-0 | Unranked
|@ Lincoln Christian||10/17|
| Ben Johnson
Fort Coffee is headed for the big stage.
Wait, Fort Coffee? Where is that? Is it in Oklahoma?
It’s a town that might go unrecognized, outside of severe weather coverage in Oklahoma, but Fort Coffee sits in the Arkansas River bend near Skullyville and northeast of Spiro. Just find LeFlore County in far eastern Oklahoma, and it sits at the very northern tip of the county.
It’s where McKinley Whitfield has called home all his life.
Now Whitfield will fly the Fort Coffee flag proudly when he attends New York Giants mini camp.
“It means everything in the world to me to represent Spiro and Fort Coffee,” said Whitfield, a former standout at Spiro High School before playing college football at the University of Tulsa.
“I grew up there my whole life, and I just try my best to be a inspiration to all the younger kids there.”
Whitfield, measuring at 6 feet, 3 inches and 217 pounds, knows professional athletic endeavors don’t come along often for those growing up in Fort Coffee.
“Not many people from the area get changes like these,” he said, “so it’s a blessing.”
Whitfield, a safety by trade, recently watched the NFL Draft intently, hoping for his name to appear in the later rounds. But all seven rounds breezed by, despite a few draft boards mentioning Whitfield as a possible late-round candidate.
“It was very frustrating,” said Whitfield, who logged 264 tackles and 19 pass breakups during his collegiate career. “Everybody was thinking that I was going to get drafted, so I didn’t want to let anybody down. I just tried to keep myself busy during the whole process and be around my family.”
It didn’t take long for Whitefield to draw an invitation to New York’s minicamp, which begins this weekend.
“It feels good getting a chance to go play at the next level,” said Whitfield, who nabbed four interceptions while at Tulsa. “Of course I would rather have gotten drafted or a free agent deal, but it’s just more motivation for me.
Whitfield joins four other TU players as mini camp invitees. Justin Hobbs and Willie Wright will work out for the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns, respectively, and two other in-state talents, Tyler Bowling (Yukon) and Chandler Miller (Bixby), will try to earn a spot with the Atlanta Falcons.
Leading up to the draft, Whitfield never had much interaction with the Giants, chatting with the organization once while at a senior event in Texas. But now he gets a chance to prove Fort Coffee belongs in the NFL.
“I’ve always been a hard worker since I was a kid,” Whitfield said. “That definitely isn’t going to stop now.”
*Photo credit: University of Tulsa
| Ben Johnson
Look back at 2017
2017 district champs
3A-1: Oklahoma Christian School - Kingfisher gave OCS a run for its money in district play, but the Saints marched to a 28-22 victory against the Yellowjackets to close out the regular season. In the playoffs, Mason Arnold, who rushed for 1,368 yards his senior season, and the Saints almost knocked off Beggs, but the Demons moved on an eventually made the 3A championship game.
3A-2: Jones - The Longhorns were machine-like in 2017. It was a near cakewalk to 13-0, and it was the same story in the first three rounds of the playoffs. But then John Marshall got in the way. That's when Jones' season came to a half at 13-1.
3A-3: John Marshall - The Bears had weapons for days on their way to the 3A-3 title and the Class 3A crown. Both Devonte Lee and Trey Eason rushed for more than 1,000 yards, but it was Lee who amassed 2,175 yards and 35 touchdowns before heading off to Nevada to start his collegiate career.
3A-4: Sulphur - The only blemish the Bulldogs endured in the season's first 13 weeks was a loss to John Marshall out of district play. Beyond that, the Bulldogs rolled right up until the 3A semifinals. There, Beggs derailed Sulphur and its plans to advance to the title game.
3A-5: Berryhill - Had all the makings of a team poised to make a run at the title in 2017. The Chiefs pulled out a seven-point win over Sperry in district play for the crown, and Berryhill's defense was stout all season long. But then Tahlequah Sequoyah pulled off a 32-30 upset in the second of the 3A playoffs to stun Berryhill.