Jenks head coach says traveling for championship game ‘doesn’t really matter’
Late last week it was announced that a bill which would intervene the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Administration’s decision to hold state championship games at UCO’s Wantland Stadium had been filed.
State Sen. J.J. Dosett, D-Sperry, introduced the bill Friday that would make it to where schools in a championship game can choose where the game is played, rather than the OSSAA.
Last month the OSSAA revealed that all football state championship games from Classes 6A to A would play at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium. This immediately caused uproar from Tulsa-area fans.
Tulsa-area schools have been the only teams to participate in the state championship game since 2012. West side teams have been featured in just six of the last 20 state championship games, with none winning.
Jenks faced Owasso in the inaugural year of the single-site state championship series. Coach Keith Riggs weighed his thoughts on the controversy:
“I think from a coach or team perspective, if you’re focusing on where you’re playing, you’re probably focused on the wrong things,” Riggs said. “What really matters to us is the opportunity to compete for a championship which is exciting no matter where you play.”
“I think it’s gotten a little out of control.”Keith Riggs – Head coach of Jenks football
Arguments against the single-site championship games have come from concerns of student safety and the frequency of east side teams playing in the game. Riggs said he understands the frustration from a fan standpoint.
“I think fans certainly would love something close just to make it convenient and I get that. I would be the same way if I were going to watch a game, something close is great. I think any coach would tell you it really doesn’t matter where you play. Once you arrive and you start your pregame activities, it’s going to be the same no matter where you’re at.”
No wrecks or injuries were reported the night of the state championship game. The Jenks football booster club offered a package to students that provided travel to and from Edmond for $15.
However, with the introduction of the proposed bill and the public outcry, Riggs says things have been exaggerated.
“I think it’s gotten a little out of control,” he said.
The OSSAA said they had the backing of coaches and athletic directors on both sides of the state to make the change. Riggs said he, personally, was not approached for his opinion.
“I found out when everybody else did, when they made the announcement,” he said. “When they called the press conference, rumors started flying as to what they were going to announce. Everybody kind of thought they were going to announce the single site.
“I know they were in touch with different AD groups and the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association but as far as me personally, I never heard from or spoke to them about it.”
The Trojans didn’t mind the trip and they appreciated the University of Central Oklahoma’s hospitality.
“UCO, the people there were great,” Riggs said. “They were very accommodating and did everything they could to make things work having three games there the day we played. I thought this year went well. I’m sure they’ll look at it and make tweaks and changes that they think is necessary. Ultimately for us, it doesn’t really matter.”
The OSSAA has given no inclination to switch back and plans to continue football state championship games at Wantland Stadium in the future.