McALESTER — Standing about 6-foot-2 with big hands and a decent wingspan, McAlester senior Cade Harkins gives the Buffs a big target at wide receiver. All quarterback Dalton Wood has to do is put the ball near Harkins and he’ll most likely haul it in.
Playing wide receiver and cornerback, Harkins loves those jump balls.
“I just like being isolated out there,” Harkins said Wednesday. “It’s a lot of one-on-one stuff and who’s the better athlete.”
Born in Oklahoma City, Harkins moved to McAlester before starting preschool. His family opened three local funeral businesses — Chaney-Harkins Funeral Home and Bishop Funeral Services in McAlester, Jones-Harkins Funeral Home in Wilburton — and Harkins started playing flag football in the third grade.
“It was just running around like a chicken with my head cut off,” Harkins said of those early games.
Harkins said he’s almost always been a wide receiver and defensive back, but he’s played quarterback a on a few occasions. One of those occasions still ranks among Harkins’ worst football memories, when the Claremore Zebras stunned the Buffs in overtime last season.
Sadness permeated the locker room after that game, but Harkins returned to quarterback the following week and helped the Buffs beat Noble. Harkins’ 2012 season steadily improved after that, culminating in McAlester’s upset win at Deer Creek in the state quarter-finals.
Harkins caught two passes including a touchdown against the Antlers. Though the Buffs lost a week later in the semifinals, Harkins still fondly remembers beating a Deer Creek team picked to win by several touchdowns.
“We really played as a team that game,” Harkins said of the Deer Creek game.
Most of the 2012 Buffs’ offense came from its ground game. That led the Buffs to the state semifinals, but it meant less use for Harkins and the other receivers.