By Joshua Allen
ONL Staff Reporter
The Oklahoma Coaches Association has picked Okemah High School Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Joe Turner to be the head coach of the All-State East Football team.
Panther player and longtime team leader, CD Harjo, was also named to the All-State team in the position of linebacker.
The All-State game will be held at the Tulsa-Union stadium in July 2019.
The Oklahoma Coaches Association (OCA) breaks down the two teams, East and West, into eight regions, four on the west, four on the east.
On each side, All-Stars by Class in each region are made available for the coaches picked by the OCA — four coaches per side and one head coach per each side — to choose from to construct their All-State foot ball teams.
So … in order to be All-State, you first have to be picked an All-Star by Class. The one All-Star by Class from Okemah picked by the OCA coaches was CD Harjo to fill the linebacker position on the East team.
As is custom in Harjo’s fairly long football career, his head coach will be none other than his high school football coach, Joe Turner.
“I’ve been coaching CD (Harjo) since seventh grade,” Turner said of Harjo. “He’s an outstanding player, and anytime you’re named to the All-State team, it’s an extremely great honor.”
“The nomination for CD (Harjo) to be linebacker on the All-State team just speaks to his dedication, commitment and hard work paying off year after year.”
It’s no easy feat to be named an All-State player … or coach for that matter, according to Turner.
In the ten years Turner has been a coach at Okemah, counting Harjo, he has had five All-Staters, which, again, is an astonishing feat for a head coach with a tenure at a smaller, rural city school, such as Okemah.
In his decade-long tenure as head coach at Okemah High School, Turner has racked up 25 All Stars By Class, going back to 2009.
Of those, Kyle Smith was named to All-State in 2011, Hunter Webb in 2015, Tack Murray in 2016, Ethan Williams in 2017 and Harjo in 2018.
This being the first time Turner has been named an All-State coach, much less head coach, and his excitement shown through during his interview with the News Leader.
“It’s more than a great honor to be picked by the (Oklahoma) coaches association to be a head coach of a great East football team,” Turner said. “I look forward to it, and I look forward to having the chance to coach Harjo one more time before he goes on to further his education and football career.”