Christian Hood wasn’t sure how long it would take to turn things around when he took over the Catoosa football program this past spring.
The Indians were coming off a winless season and they lost their final three games of the 2019 season. Couple that with losses in their first two games this season, and the Indians had gone almost two years without a victory.
Things changed in Week 3 and Week 4, thanks to kicker Fute Yang. Yang nailed game-winning field goals in both games to secure wins against Claremore and Skiatook.
“It was huge for them to finally see a win on the scoreboard,” said Hood, a former All-State receiver at Union. “It was pretty encouraging. After losing the two previous games, I wasn’t sure how the kids were going to respond. Winning in that fashion definitely helped, for sure.”
Additional wins over Oologah and Cleveland clinched a playoff berth for the Indians, an achievement that seemed unlikely at the beginning of the season. Following the Cleveland win, an emotional Catoosa locker room exploded in celebration.
“That was absolutely amazing,” recalled senior Colyn Treat. “We hadn’t made the playoffs in three years and no one expected us to do much. For our team and community to come together, there’s no better feeling.”
Hood has drawn from his experience as a successful high school player at Union, as well as his career as a player and coach at the University of Central Oklahoma. A year as an assistant under Bill Blankenship at Owasso also gave him perspective on how to run a successful high school program.
In order to achieve those experiences, Hood and his staff have preached accountability and discipline.
“We have what we call the ‘Distraction List’,” said Hood. “It’s when guys are tardy to class or not turning in papers or missing workouts. At the beginning of the year, that list was pretty large. That was an indicator of what the culture was like. Seeing them handle things off the field showed me that we were heading in the right direction.”
“Accountability is everything,” added Treat, who’s eight interceptions as a defensive back ranks second in the state. “If you slip up, if you miss a workout, he doesn’t care who you are. You have to suffer the consequences. That’s just how it is. It’s been a big thing for us and having that has turned around our season.”
The Indians face a tough task this week when they face third-ranked Poteau in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. Win or lose, Hood and his team are confident this is just the beginning for Catoosa football.
“This is where we belong,” stated Hood. “The message for our program is we get one more guaranteed week of practice. It’s one more week for our youngsters to develop. We have a bunch of young guys that are starting or have played big roles for us. Getting to play in a playoff atmosphere is huge for their development.”
“It’s definitely a good feeling, especially for the young guys,” added Treat. “I love hearing that we were the guys who started the culture of turning things around. I like hearing that.”