When Erik McCarty sees an opening, there’s not much that can stop him from reaching the end zone.
The McAlester junior running back is busy prepping for the Buffs’ appearance in the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association Class 5A state championship on Saturday, and said he’s like the energy heading into game day.
“I feel great. I feel like we’ve got something that’s bigger than ourselves,” McCarty said. “We’re playing for each other, and I feel really good about it.”
McCarty made waves last season as he rushed for 1,966 yards on 213 carries with 32 touchdowns. His record year put him second all-time in McAlester history for rushing yards in a season, and first all-time in rushing touchdowns scored.
This year, he’s outdone himself by breaking his own record and rushing out for 34 touchdowns, with 1,741 yards on the season so far.
McCarty and the 2021 Buffs have already made their mark, becoming the winningest team in McAlester football history at 13-0 — surpassing the 1968 state championship team that finished at 12-0.
But with one goal left to attain this season, he said his focus has been on preparing for the title game alongside his teammates.
“I think we’re locked in, good intensity,” he said. “Everybody wants this just as bad as the person next to them.”
Still, McCarty recognizes that he’s rushed his way into the record books, and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. He said his goal is to make that mark as high as he can, setting the bar for future generations of McAlester rushers.
“Honestly, I want to set it higher and see if somebody else will break it,” McCarty said. “I want to keep going up. I want to set it higher, get a bigger goal, and see if somebody can’t break it later on in the future.”
And in the spirit of sportsmanship, McCarty also gave a little bit of friendly advice for anyone looking to break his records.
“Run the ball hard, and make sure you thank your linemen,” he smiled. “If you don’t thank them, then you ain’t getting any yards.”
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.