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Paddlety handed Anadarko football reins

ANADARKO  Walking off the field together having just beaten Chickasha for the first time in years, Anadarko football offensive coordinator Chris Paddlety turned to Warriors head coach Kent Jackson and hinted at what was to come of "The Warrior Way."

"This is the start," Paddlety vividly remembers telling Jackson in 2007 while putting his arm around the head coach. "We can build off this and keep winning."

Win, win and win some more, the Warriors did as they claimed state championships in 2011 and 2013, sandwiched between a runner-up finish in 2012 which highlighted a decade filled with excellence and eight straight playoff appearances.

After coaching together for 17 years, it's now Paddlety's turn at the helm as he became Anadarko football's new head coach, taking over for Jackson, who resigned his post last month but will remain the school's athletic director. 

"If it's not broke, you don't fix it," Paddlety said. "We're going to instill the same values. Jackson instilled in all of us  the coaching staff and the players  to be positive, disciplined and dedicated. Of course, I'm going to put my twist and flare on it, but we're still going to instill the values we have all these years."

Paddlety, who has been the offensive coordinator at Anadarko for 11 years and an assistant since 2004, says "the tradition continues" is the new motto for Anadarko football.

Like most coaches, Paddlety says he's always had aspirations to be a head coach. To do it in the town where he grew up and graduated high school (1988) from seems like a fairytale. 

"To do that here in my hometown, it's just the icing on the cake," Paddlety said. "It's my dream job. I'm really excited to get started this year."

With the foundation sent and strong 'Darko roots planted, the program shouldn't miss a beat moving forward.

"We've always said, 'You have to be from Anadarko to coach at Anadarko' and that's going to be a big plus for him," Jackson echoed. "It's a proud moment for both of us, really. I get to see my best assistant of all time take over and keep it going."

After coaching for 20 years, Jackson decided to hang it up in order to spend more time with his family  his wife, his 21-year-old twins, Kendall and Kaden, his 19-year-old daughter Paige who is a freshman at OU and his 2-year-old, Kreed. Jackson will stay plenty busy with his family as well as his athletic director duties and maintaining his cattle operation.

"It's taken its toll," Jackson said of the two decades of coaching. "All coaches go through a burnout period and that's probably where I'm at. I need to be a better father and be there more so I'm ready to step back."

Paddlety took over head coaching duties in the 36-21 home win over Elgin last fall after Jackson served a one-game suspension which he was served after defending his players in the final seconds of a one-point loss at long-time rival Clinton a week earlier. 

"He's primed me and gotten me ready to be the head coach," Paddlety said. "He's been gearing me up for this."

One of Jackson's proudest moments coaching Anadarko came in 2009 when the Warriors beat Clinton for the first time since 1973. 'Darko went on to beat the Red Tornadoes in 2010, '11 and the regular season meeting in 2012. Clinton got the last laugh in the 2012 state championship as the Warriors were without middle linebacker Russ Mithlo, who served a heavily debated suspension after being ejected in the semis against Wagoner. 

Former Constitution sports writer Kyle Vrska, who covered Anadarko football during the glory years, compared the meteoric rise of Anadarko football in the last decade to a situation if the Cleveland Browns ever became good. Vrska vividly remembers the 2012 championship in which Clinton broke up a potential 'Darko 3-peat and disrupted what would have been a 54-game winning streak come 2014.

"Jackson's motto was, 'You're not going to run on us, and we're going to run all over you,'" Vrska recalled. "That's what they did, game after game and no one could ever flip the script except for one quarter in the 2012 title game."

'Darko won in '13, '14 and 15 before Clinton won the past two meetings by a combined seven points.

This season, Anadarko moves back up to Class 4A and will play in the same district as its archrival.

"It's still kind of crazy when people talk about the Anadarko-Clinton rivalry because it never really was until then (2009)," Jackson said.

Jackson and Paddlety's 2007 team that beat Chickasha was the group that started it all. Fresh off back-to-back 1-9 campaigns, the '07 Warriors clinched the program's first playoff appearance in more than 15 years. 

The Lawton Constitution

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