Sports Sunday Correspondent
Less than six hours before the scheduled kickoff of Sequoyah High School's most important football ever, Eagle coach Jody Iams received a telephone call.
For anyone who for the past two weeks has been locked up in a basement or out of the country, the Sequoyah Eagles won the Class 3A state championship on Dec. 4. They defeated Marlow, 32-3, to cap a perfect 14-game season.
Was the phone call from a friend wishing him good luck?
The call was to inform Iams that the game was to be postponed a second time.
Originally scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 2, the game was delayed until the following Monday night. Ice and record deep snow that fell across the state the previous two days forced the first postponement.
Iams' call was to tell him the game was going to be delayed again. The field at Edmond wasn't ready.
"I couldn't believe it. Here it is 1:15, and we were getting prepared to load our two buses at 2," Iams said. "I panicked."
That might be an overstatement. If he did panic, it was the one and only time this year. The normally cool and collected Iams came through just the same.
"We started calling people," Iams said. "Marlow was in the middle of a pep rally when their coach received his call. He and I both wanted to play Monday.
After some quick action and strong words on the part of both schools, the ones in charge agreed to go ahead with the game.
"They did a good job with the field. It was a little wet in spots, but that wasn't a factor in the game. It all worked," Iams said.
It worked all right all season for the Sequoyah Eagles. As a result, Jody Iams is the Claremore Progress 2006 Rogers County High School Football Coach of the Year. He also took the award last season after the Eagles finished 11-2.
"This honor needs to go to my coaching staff. They are the ones who do all the work," Iams said. "They each know what they are doing and I let them do their jobs."
His staff is made up by offensive coordinator Brett Thomas; defensive coordinator Jon Yates; wide receivers and defensive ends coach Brannon Feese; Chris Osburn and Bob Campbell, line coaches who also install the offensive game plans, and John Chambers who, along with the head coach, prepares the defensive game plans.
The Eagles put on a beautiful show for their fans this year. Starting with a win over Verdigris back on Sept. 1, and then ending two weeks ago in the state title game, Sequoyah's football team was unstoppable.
For 14 straight weeks (and two days ... don't forget the snow delay), the Eagles were never really tested. The closest winning margin was 15-6 against preseason favorite Clinton in the state quarterfinals. Even then, Sequoyah scored in the first minute and never trailed.
It was some run.
"To tell the truth, anything less than the championship would have been disappointing to all of us," Iams said. "We were driven all season."
The drive actually started in November 2005 when Sequoyah lost in the semifinals of the 3A playoffs. The Eagles thought then they should have won the title. From that loss, the team knew it did not want to be denied in 2006.
"From watching these guys play in junior high we knew we were going to be good by the time they were seniors," Iams said. "We knew we would have some dominating players."
Iams arrived at Sequoyah 12 years ago. He has watched most of the 19 seniors this year come up the ranks. He was an assistant for Rex Trent for the first four seasons. When Trent resigned to accept a position with the University of Tulsa, Iams was named as his replacement.
During Iams' eight seasons as head coach, the Eagles have a 61-31 record. Sequoyah has reached the semifinals three times. This year's seniors have posted records of 6-5, 11-2 and 14-0.
"I believe we would have won three or four more games their sophomore year if Levi hadn't broken his leg and missed several games," Iams said, referring to his star quarterback Levi Richardson.
Mainly a running team, Sequoyah had a deadly passing attack this season, when needed. Power runs or long passes, both put points on the scoreboard.
A state championship trophy can look nice in the Sequoyah trophy case. But what’s next, coach?
"Once we come back after New Year's, we will be back in the weight room and getting to work," Iams said. "We will start testing the players on running and weights. Because of being in the playoffs four extra weeks, we are already a month behind in this.
"Yes, we will be graduating a very good senior class, but we expect the underclassmen to step up. They will get bigger and stronger. I expect to continue to win. Our goal right now is to be playing next year on Week 11 (the start of the playoffs). First, we must earn the right to be a playoff team.
"That's what I love about football. You must win to get in. Unlike the other high school sports, football does not have any free passes.
"I expect we will continue to win in football here. Our journey is not over. It is just beginning and we are starting down a new road. Now our expectations are higher."
Iams and his coaches do not consider the cabinet bare for next season. Due to this year's success and the lopsided halftime scores, the Sequoyah starters usually went to the bench early in the third quarters. This allowed the reserves to see much playing time.
As it appears now, Sequoyah will have approximately 60 players reporting for the 2007 season. Iams and his staff will be ready.
"As a youngster first starting out as a coach I saw some head coaches who had to call and control everything. I want guys who will work hard and take charge on their part of the game. My assistants know this and I believe that's why we very little turnover with personnel.
"All of them realize we as coaches are here for the kids. It's not the other way around."