ATOKA, Okla. - Phillips Field has been a staple in Atoka for quite some time, 75-years to be exact, and when the Wampus Cats take the field this Friday for homecoming it will be for the last time this season and possibly ever.
"We talked to our kids about that possibility and that you want to represent all the young men that have played here in the past," Atoka Head Coach Lloyd Smith said. "Knowing that this might be our final game here, we want to represent those guys to our best ability and make a memorable experience for all those who attend on Friday night."
Safety concerns is the reason Atoka Superintendent Jay McAdams says the school put a halt to playing at Phillips Field. The North end zone slopes down, a fence comes within three feet of the playing field, the stands have been poorly maintained over the years causing wear and several large cracks.
Phillips Field was built in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration, or WPA, program which was created by Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression.
The players say they want to send Phillips Field out in grand fashion.
"We need to come out and we need to get a win," Atoka Linebacker William Clegg said. "We can't send out the last game on this field with a loss, that's not something we need to do."
For the remainder of the season, the Wampus Cats will play their home games at Paul Laird Field in Durant, the home of the Southeastern Savage Storm, which quickly raised the spirits of the football team.
"I was kind of upset about it, because I didn't want to travel all the time," Atoka Running Back Houston Bowen said. "Then to hear that we were going to play at Southeastern lifted me a little bit."
"It's definitely going to be a new atmosphere, but I think it will be fun playing on turf," Atoka Quarterback Stephen Cook said. "It will be something different. These younger guys never experienced that, so it will be fun for them too."
McAdams says the school board will evaluate all their options for Phillips Field, including renovation and even building a new stadium.
The only change to their schedule, they will play Hugo next Thursday, Sept. 24th instead of Friday, Sept. 25th.
Atoka's last game at Phillips Field will be tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. against Antlers.