First, congratulations to the Poteau Pirates for their dramatic double overtime win in the Class 4A soccer state championship match.
They showed determination and tenacity in regulation and then maintained their poise until the time was right with 6:44 left in the second overtime period and Ashby Clark emerged from the chaos in front of the Oklahoma City Santa Fe South net and popped the ball past the Saints keeper for the sudden state-title winning goal.
A parade in the Pirates honor is set for 5:15 p.m. today with participants and their vehicles gathering at the PHS parking lot at 5 p.m. The route follows Broadway from there south to the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center parking lot, with the celebration honoring Coach Neto Silva and his players at the outdoor amphitheater.
This state championship is a big deal.
I know American football, basketball and baseball are more popular around here. They are most places. I agree with most fans on my choices ― I played football and baseball through high school and still spend too many hours of my week following baseball. I set foot on a soccer pitch once ― part of a three-day program in a freshman physical education class at Arkansas State University designed to expose students to the variety of sports offered at the school. All I took away from the class was that soccer is one heck of a lot of fun.
My son played one year, when he was 4. My daughters played a few years each. Molly would have been a great keeper, according to her coach, but she wanted no part of "that kind of pressure." Megan, the youngest, played what they called fullback and served as a roving protector of the goalkeeper. She didn't want to be the keeper, but she took each goal scored against them as a personal failure.
Poteau's team has accomplished something that likely seemed impossible when the program's first match was played in 1998. Now the Pirates are the best in the state.
That won't change. That championship banner will be displayed as long as there is a Poteau High School.
And, winning it in such a dramatic fashion means that each member of that team and many of their hundreds of supporters who watched the title game, either in person or on the Internet, will remember those final minutes forever.
And that's the way it should be.
No matter how little you know or care about soccer, it is the world's most popular sport ― and these young men from Poteau are the best in Oklahoma. You should cheer them on at the parade this evening, you should tell them how proud you are of them and you should mention it when you speak with pride about your hometown.