TIPTON, Okla (KSWO) - Tipton has been the dominant force in Class C over the last five years. The Tigers saw their streak of four straight State Championship Game appearances come to an end in 2015. For the first time since 2009, the Tipton Tigers failed to reach ten or more wins. The Tigers went 9-3 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs where they lost to Coyle.
For most schools, nine wins and a playoff berth is a really good season. Tipton on the other hand has a tradition that reaches far greater, and the 2016 edition of the Tigers understand that.
"I was proud of what we accomplished last year. But nobody in that locker room was satisfied with that," head coach Travis White said. "We feel like if we stay healthy and put in the work, that we will be able to make a long run."
"We just have to be physical and mentally there," said sophomore quarterback Shon Claude Boothe. "Last year we were physical. We brought it to the table strength-wise. But we weren't mentally prepared in some ways. And you always have to be mentally prepared to go deep in the playoffs, to make a deep run."
Tipton's journey back to state will need to be done without star running back Terence Rushing. Coach White understands how difficult it is to replace a productive back like Rushing, and won't put pressure on any one person to make up for it.
"Terence was a special player, and he got a whole lot of carries last year. I don't think there is going to be any one person that we ask to really fill that void because I'm not real sure that you can," White said. "We're going to ask more carries out of our quarterback. He was a freshman last year. He's going to be a sophomore this year. We're going to expect him to carry the football a little bit more. Gavin Jones is a fullback for us that started last year. He's going to get more carries."
"Dylan Schmidt moving in, playing some running back some power back for us, that's great right there. That replaces Terence a little bit, but you can't really replace Terence. Then you have Samaje McBride coming up playing running back. Also really quick on the outside and everything," Boothe said.
Boothe accounted for almost 1,900 total yards offensively with 12 touchdowns in 2015. Close to 800 of those yards came on the ground. However, the team feels it's his arm that will improve the offense in 2016.
"The ball's coming out of his hands a whole lot better this year than it was last year. He's throwing the ball a whole lot better and we definitely feel like we'll be able to throw the ball more on people this year than we did last year," said White. "He was a freshman last year, he started every game for us. So we know he's going to be a lot more experienced, and there's not a better teacher than experience."
"He's crazy strong for his age right now. It surprised me when I first saw him. He's grown. He's gotten a lot more mature and he's starting to know the game more," said senior center Alex Martinez.
Tipton begins the season Friday at home against Laverne.