Central Sallisaw Tigers
Sallisaw, OK 74955
Record: 7-3 | Unranked
|vs Porter Consolidated||W||58-28|
OSSAA 1st Round at Central Sallisaw HS
| 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
| Michael Swisher
Less than 24 hours after helping lead his team to another tournament championship, Bijan Cortes announced a big decision about his future.
The Kingfisher High School junior made it public early Sunday evening that he had committed to play basketball for the University of Oklahoma.
[Photo by Russell Stitt/www.stitt.smugmug.com]
“I want to thank my friends and family for always pushing me to be the best person I can be. I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Kingfisher and all the great people in it for always coming out and supporting me,” Cortes wrote in a statement on social media.
He continued: “Thank you to Coach (Lon) Kruger and the University of Oklahoma staff for believing in my talents. I’m proud to say that I am officially a Sooner! 110% COMMITTED.”
Cortes scored 26 points the previous night in Kingfisher’s 85-42 win over Guthrie in the finals of the Buckle of the Wheatbelt Invitational.
The Jackets have won 38 straight games and are 72-2 since Cortes began starting as a freshman. During that stretch, they’ve been a 4A state runner-up (2018) and state champion (2019).
KHS is 16-0 this season, during which Cortes has averaged 21.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.4 steals. He’s shooting 62.1 percent overall, which includes 56.9 percent from 3-point range.
Rivals, a national recruiting service, has him listed as the 150th-ranked player in the country for the Class of 2021 and the 31st-ranked point guard.
Anther service, 247, has him listed at No. 230 and 37, respectively.
Cortes, who is 6-foot-2, received an offer from OU last April. He also hauled in offers from Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Oral Roberts, North Texas and Texas-San Antonio.
“OU just felt like home and the coaches there made me a main priority and they always text me telling me that I can be ‘that guy,’” Cortes told Michael Swisher of Skordle and the Kingfisher Times & Free Press.
Cortes was primarily recruited by OU assistant coach Carlin Hartman, as well as head coach Lon Kruger. Both were in Kingfisher to watch Cortes practice earlier this month.
He said Norman’s proximity did play a role in his decision.
“Why not do it in the home state close to family?” he said. “That made me want to be a Sooner.”
Cortes knows he could have waited to see if other offers came in, but felt the timing was right to commit.
“I wasn’t like ‘I’m ready to get it over with,’” he said. “But I also knew for sure this was my favorite school and staff, so why wait?”
| Ben Johnson
Booker T. Washington’s head-coaching vacancy didn’t last long. The Tulsa World reported that Brad Calip would be vacating his post as Hornets head coach for an assistant coaching job at Owasso on Sunday.
On Monday, Tulsa Public Schools is expected to formally announce Jonathan Brown as the Hornets new head coach at Booker T. Washington, according to multiple sources. Brown will be elevated from his current defensive coordinator role.
Calip leaves after going 32-15 during a four-year run as head coach. During that time, Booker T. Washington won the 2017 Class 6AIi state championship.
Brown is a former Booker T. Washington standout who graduated in 1994. He played college football at Tennessee and spent time during his professional career in both the NFL and Canadian Football League.
| Ben Johnson
Owasso recently knocked off Jenks, 14-6, for the Class 6AI championship in Edmond on Dec. 6. It had been determined several weeks before the playoffs started that all 11-man football title games would be played at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium.
But now that the season is over, one state senator is sounding off on the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s decision to force Jenks and Owasso play in a championship game at the other end of the Turner Turnpike.
Sen. J.J. Dossett (D-Sperry) has proposed a bill that he hopes will generate conversation in next year’s legislative session that would allow school districts to determine their playing destination.