Oklahoma Class A football: Lynn Shackelford, Cashion capture elusive championship after tumultuous season
EDMOND – Lynn Shackelford has his fair share of silver balls.
The state football championship teams every season in Oklahoma earn gold balls while the runners-up earn the silver version. There’s nothing different between the two sans the color and what they represent. Gold means a team won the championship while silver means a team came up just short.
For Shackelford, Cashion’s football coach, he’ll have to make room for a gold ball next to his three silver ones.
Top-ranked Cashion knocked off No. 2 Thomas 34-7 on Saturday in the Class A State championship game at Wantland Stadium. Shackelford and the Wildcats have made three state championship games the past six seasons and lost in every one. Yet on Saturday, the Wildcats left no doubt, winning the first 11-man state title in school history, first football championship since 1981 and becoming the first team in state history to go 16-0.
“I don’t ever want one game to define our kids or to define me or define our program,” Shackelford said. “We’ve been here a lot, and I’m not sure we were the best team those other three times. Tonight, I thought we were.
“I thought we just had to do what we do, and if we do that, we’d be in pretty good shape.”
The Wildcats (16-0 overall) indeed were in pretty good shape from the outset.
Cashion and Thomas met in Week 3, with the Wildcats coming away with a 28-7 victory. It was Thomas’ only loss of the season heading into the championship game.
Yet during Saturday’s contest, it seemed like a repeat of the first game. Cashion was better in all aspects. Players were a step ahead on defense, physical in the trenches and seemed to want it more.
Last season, an undefeated Cashion team came to Wantland Stadium and lost to Ringling in the state finals. Those Wildcats had 21 returning starters from the 2018 team and were heavy favorites to capture the title, so falling to Ringling was another sting in championship games.
That’s why getting to hoist a gold ball this season meant so much.
“Words can’t describe it,” Cashion junior quarterback Ben Harman said. “For all of the players behind us and prior to us, just playing for them, it makes you feel good.”
As the clock ticked down, players gave Shackelford a victory shower and began to celebrate on the sideline. Many had tears in their eyes, overcome with emotion.
It was clear: the championship drought and shortcomings before were a thing of the past. Even in a tumultuous season, Cashion was able to overcome.
Lynn Shackelford has his fair share of silver balls. That’s why it meant more than words could describe when he finally got to raise a gold one.
“We didn’t talk about it, but it was always in the back of your mind that this thing could be over tomorrow,” Shackelford said of playing during the pandemic. “I’d have bet a lot of money in August that we wouldn’t be standing here in December. But we are, so that part’s really good.”
Reporter Cameron Jourdan covers high school sports across the Oklahoma City metro and state. Have a story idea for Cameron? He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Cam_Jourdan. Support Cameron’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe or by using the link at the top of this page.