Wilson field house vandalized, football equipment destroyed

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WILSON, OK -- Friday nights in Texoma are full of excitement for high school football players and coaches. But one team faced a big loss early Thursday morning, when someone broke into their field house and destroyed their equipment. As Steven Powell reports, now, on top of making last minute preparations for Friday's game, coaches are being forced to scrap together more than just X's and O's.

What head coach Warren Butler found when he showed up to work Thursday was a shocking scene.

"It was really a nightmare," Butler said. "We walk in; I come in, open the door, let a couple of kids, I'm going to check the field, make sure we were ready to paint. And they come walking out on the field and say 'Hey coach, we're destroyed.'

Someone broke into the field house Wednesday night and wrecked the team's equipment and facilities. They cut up pads, shoes, and gloves, destroyed helmets, game pants, footballs, and threw jerseys into an empty pool. And then they coated the entire building - including lockers - with fire extinguishers. The school estimates the damage is close to $30,000.

"It's been pretty hectic trying to get everything ready to go, get it all cleaned up. And we've got a work crew here cleaning it up now. The basketball team came and helped us yesterday evening, cleaned up a little bit."

Principal Gary LaBeth says sporting goods companies have been very helpful, giving them good deals on replacement equipment as they scrambled to scrap together gear for Friday night's game.

"We had to get all the stuff that we needed to go tonight. The insurance company's gonna working with us. They've already been down. The adjuster said just said make me a list up, get prices, get quotes, and we'll go from there," said LaBeth.

But the damage even got personal.

"The hardest thing is the personal equipment of the kids. Kids buy shoes, kids buy gloves - they were all cut up."

But Coach Butler says he and his team have already put the incident behind them, and they can't wait to go out tonight under those bright Friday night lights.

"And it has probably drawn them together more than any other bunch I've every coached, just because of the things they've gone through. They're about as inspired as you can get. This has done nothing but bring a little fire to them," said Butler.

And LaBeth agrees there's nothing like Gridiron therapy.

"We're ready. We'll go play football out here tonight. And people will be excited. And it will be Friday night football as always," LaBeth said.

Wilson police say they have a few persons of interest they're talking to - all of whom are juveniles associated with the school.

Because of the cost of the damage, they say the crime is a felony.

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