Just last year, Cushing and their opponents considered the Bearkats the, “Homecoming team.”
“Everyone wants us at Homecoming because they figure they're going to beat us, but it's not like that this year,” said senior linebacker and wide receiver Jacob Smelley.
The Bearkats are quickly proving that by starting out 3-0. For these seniors, it's the most games they have ever won in their entire careers at Cushing.
“We obviously got a good season going on, but we don't want to get over confident,” said senior safety and wide receiver Brayan Valencia. “We just want to keep on pushing, and proving all those people wrong who thought we couldn't do it.”
Head coach Bill Jehling had the responsibility as of last year to change the direction of the Bearkat football program, and he has seemed to spark some new life into this deflated team.
Players said the coaches have ignited a new fire under them, and implemented new schemes that included a strong off-season workout plan.
“That's played the biggest role as far as our success so far,” said Jehling. “The kids had a strong off-season program, and they completely bought into the program that we were trying to implement here.”
In three games, the Bearkats have allowed just 14 points against, and have walked away from two of those games with a shutout.
Their defense is led by Clarence McMichael, who knows all about transforming a team after 34 years of coaching at Nacogdoches High School.
“I've always been raised for a challenge, and I felt like it was going to be a challenge here from the past record,” said McMichael. “I've always felt like it was a diamond in the rough out here. It was just a matter of coming into the program, and getting things done.”
However, Cushing is getting things done offensively too. After tallying an average of 46 points per game, their offense proves to be just as strong as their defense.
“Our line is very disciplined every game,” said senior wide receiver Derodney Thomas. “We focus on what we need to do, and our running game is tremendously great.”
There seems to be a new saying around Cushing, and it's, “I'm a champion.” The coaches have used this saying to close out every practice.
“We are not settling. We're pushing ourselves every day in practice, staying focused, executing, coming out, having fun, wanting to get 4-0, 5-0, wanting to get deeper,” said senior offensive and defensive linemen Austin Cruz.
The Bearkats are looking to extend their winning streak come Friday against Detroit. Their game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Cushing High School.
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