STILLWATER, Okla. —
A year ago, Stillwater High School football coach Tucker Barnard’s mind was filled with “what ifs” as his team prepared to open the season at McAlester. What if Braxton Noble wasn’t the right choice for quarterback? What if the defense can’t stop the Buffaloes’ powerful running attack?
These days, Barnard is no longer worrying about the “what ifs” on the team. Noble has solidified himself as a big-time play maker and the defense looks to be the strength of the team this season.
And as the Pioneers prepare to host McAlester in the season opener at 7 p.m. Friday at Pioneer Stadium, only a scattering of moths, not butterflies fill the night time air around the stadium.
“We’re definitely more comfortable (as opposed to last season),” Barnard said. “I think we’ve got a good idea of what we have at the quarterback position. We’ve got a good one. He’s a smart kid that works really hard and can make all the throws.
“I’ve never been one to get real nervous. I’ve always felt like if you put in the work and put in the time, there’s not really anything to be nervous about.”
The Pioneers have certainly put in plenty of time, with spring practices and various summer team camps leading up to the fall practices. After a 3-7 season last year, make no mistake that this year’s squad has been anxiously awaiting opening night for the past 10 months.
“I think we’ve been ready since we’ve strapped up in the spring,” Noble said. “Week 1 is always a big deal, no matter what age you are. We’re ready to go get it.”
Getting a win won’t be easy for the Pioneers, which dropped the last six games in 2012. Even though Stillwater trounced McAlester 42-18 last season in McAlester, Barnard said topping the Buffaloes this season won’t be a cakewalk.