Pocola, OK 74902
Record: 4-2 | Unranked
|@ Central Sallisaw||W||20-47|
|vs Cascia Hall||L||8-40|
| 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
2A-1: Chisholm - The Longhorns were golden when they weren't facing Washington in 2017. Luckily for them, Washington was in a different district, so Chisholm made an unbeaten 6-0 run through A-1 last season, including a 33-21 victory over Alva in October. But unfortuntaely for Chisholm, its only two losses were to Washington in non-district play in September and then in the second round of the playoffs in November.
2A-2: Millwood - A machine -- that's what Millwood was in 2017. The Falcons scored no fewer than 37 points in all 14 of their games, and they never gave up more than 18. That's pure dominance. And to cap it all off, Millwood outscored its opponents 228 to 7 in the postseason.
2A-3: Lindsay - The Leopards were hard to get a read on in 2017, but they finished atop 2A-3 by the end of the regular season. A 27-21 loss to Hobart landed Lindsay in a tie atop the district with Washington, but the Leopards followed that loss with a 38-21 victory over Washington to claim the tiebreaker. But while Washington was making a run to the state championship game, Lindsay ended up with a second-round loss to Alva to cap a 7-5 season.
2A-4: Davis - Head coach Jody Weber capped his 17-year run as the Wolves' head coach with the program's 34th district title. Davis knocked off every 2A opponent it faced in 2017 until it clashed with Washington in the semifinals.
2A-5: Vian - The Wolverines coasted in 2A-5 play, winning all five contests comfortable. The closest was a 26-12 win over Okemah in late October. The district title segued into playoff wins over Panama and Victory Christian and the first two rounds, but then Millwood was waiting in the quarterfinals to pull the plug on Vian's postseason run.
2A-6: Valliant - Really only one word sums up 2A-6 in 2017: craziness. Five -- yes, five! -- teams finished atop the district standings at 4-2. It was Valliant that ended up with its fifth district crown, and then there was Hartshorne that missed the playoffs altogether. Valliant, Spiro and Antlers all won their first round playoff matchups, but none of the three advanced past the second round.
2A-7: Holland Hall - It was the first district championship for the Dutch, a team that had joined the OSSAA ranks in 2016 after transitioning over from the Southwest Preparatory Conference with mostly Texas teams. Holland Hall looked like a potential opponent for Millwood in the finals, but a furious comeback by Davis in the quarterfinals ended the Dutch's postseason run.
2A-8: Adair - The Warriors picked up their seventh straight district title, thanks in large part to a 36-14 win over Commerce in the final week of the regular season. Adair marched into the quarterfinals, where Alva dispatched the Warriors with a 40-8 rout.
Talking title game: Millwood 42, Washington 7