By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — To make it all the way to a state championship game, a football team must get contributions from numerous players.
It’s no wonder, then, that 11 different McAlester Buffaloes found themselves on the All-District 5A-3 list obtained from McAlester Athletics on Dec. 17.
Caden Pratt led the Buffs’ honorees as Player of the Year. Spending time at receiver, running back and quarterback this year, Pratt compiled more than 1,200 all-purpose offensive yards, throwing, catching and rushing for 31 total touchdowns.
Pratt also played safety for the Buffs, returning an interception for a touchdown in Week 3 against Claremore and finishing with two total interceptions. He also made up half of McAlester’s dynamic punt- and kickoff-return team.
The other half, starting running back Jarome Smith, was named Offensive Player of the Year. Smith rushed for nearly 2,000 yards during the 2013 season, averaging 10.9 yards per carry and breaking into the end zone 24 times, and added 127 receiving yards and four touchdown catches.
Smith also record both of McAlester’s special-teams touchdowns this year: a 66-yard return against Durant in Week 7; and an 80-yard return against East Central in the first round of the playoffs. Also a starting linebacker for the Buffs, Smith forced safeties against both Noble in Week 4 and Lawton MacArthur in the semifinals and returned an interception for a touchdown against Nathan Hale in Week 6.
Cade Harkins was named Co-Receiver of the Year, along with Shawnee’s Chris Lester. Averaging almost 22 yards per catch, Harkins led the Buffs with 42 receptions, 923 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns.
Harkins also played well at cornerback on defense, his best plays including an interception returned for a touchdown against Claremore and a fumble returned for a touchdown against Memorial in Week 10. He finished with five total interceptions, including one in his own end zone during the state championship game against Guthrie.
Mason Bumphus was named Cornerback of the Year. Bumphus led the state with 10 interceptions in 2013, some of his biggest including two in McAlester’s end zone against Shawnee in Week 5, and interceptions returned for touchdowns against Noble and Skiatook in Week 9.
Also a starting wide receiver, Bumphus caught 28 passes for 715 yards and 10 touchdowns. He added 70 rushing yards on 9 carries.
Lane Grant was named Co-Linebacker of the year along with Shawnee’s Gage Humphrey, and Mikey Verner was named Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year along with Shawnee’s Riley Greenlee. Grant finished the season with 76 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery, while Verner led a Buffs offensive line that made McAlester’s high-scoring offense possible.
For leading the Buffs to their first state championship since 1996, McAlester coach Bryan Pratt was named Co-Coaches of the Year. Skiatook coach Vance Miller, who helped his team go from 0-10 in 2012 season to the playoffs in 2013, was the other Co-Coach of the Year.
Seniors Grant Sontag and Connor Powers were named to the All-District offensive line, while Blakely Williams was named an All-District receiver. Though Williams caught just 10 passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns himself, that didn’t stop him from being the team’s best downfield blocker, making many of his teammates’ touchdowns possible by clearing away safeties and cornerbacks.
Josh Peckio was named to the All-District defensive line. Peckio made 48 tackles during the season, recorded three sacks and returned a fumble for an interception against MacArthur.
Allen Woodmore finished the Buffs’ list of All-District athletes, qualifying as an All-District defensive back. One of McAlester’s starting safeties, Woodmore recorded three interceptions during the season, including one he returned for a touchdown against Memorial.
Woodmore also led all seniors with 88 tackles.
Non-McAlester players receiving All-District 5A-3 honors included:
• Quarterback of the Year: Zac Cater, Durant
• Tight End of the Year: Blake Weatherl, Bishop Kelley
• Defensive Player of the Year: Max Denny, Bishop Kelley
• Defensive Lineman of the Year: Brice Inbody, Bishop Kelley
• Safety of the Year: Don Murphy, Shawnee
• Special Teams Player of the Year: Thomas Bingham, Bishop Kelley
• Punter of the Year: Caleb Peters, Noble
• Kicker of the Year: Josiah Siddiki, Bishop Kelley
• Returner of the Year: Jalen Smith, Memorial
• Co-Hardship MVP: Connor Ruminer, Durant; Jake Nicholson, Skiatook
Memorial led all schools with 14 total All-District players. Bishop Kelley had 12, McAlester had 11, Shawnee had 10, Durant had nine, Noble had six, Skiatook had four and Hale had three.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.