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In the fall of 1969 MacArthur High School opened its doors and Highlander football entered into its inaugural season with a splash. Under Coach Ron Hartline, the Highlanders forged a record of 7-3, and although they did not qualify for the playoffs they did set the tone for MacArthur football excellence for future generations of Highlanders. MacArthur, in only its third season, did make the playoffs for the first time and did so in a big way, earning a spot in the state finals. The first of six runners-up trophies was earned by the 1971 team, and a new mindset for Highlander football was firmly rooted….excellence! Coach Hartline was at the helm of the MacArthur football program from 1969 through the 1992 season, and his 1990 team also played in the state finals and received a silver ball. During those years, Coach Hartline compiled a record of 169 wins against 104 losses. His Highlander teams won seven district championships, made the playoffs fourteen times, made the state semi-finals six times, and were state finalist twice. He coached sixteen All Staters and one player, Vaughn Lusby, an important cog in the 1971 run to the state finals, eventually had a professional football career. In June of 2014, Coach Hartline was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of fame.

Enter Ernie Manning in the fall of 1993
. Coach Manning continued the tradition of Highlander excellence from his tenure from 1993 through 2008. As his predecessor, in only his third season at the controls his team earned a spot in the state finals where once again the Highlanders took home a silver ball. Under Coach Manning the Highlanders put together a record of 119 wins and 70 losses, and they won six district championships. His MacArthur teams entered the playoffs twelve of his sixteen seasons as head coach, made the semi-finals seven times, and played in the state finals three times. In each of those three state final appearances a silver ball was in the cards for the Highlanders. Coach Manning also had fifteen All State players, and he also coached a future professional football player in the form of mammoth Jammal Brown. Jammal’s final season, 1999, earned him All-State honors as well as a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma where he was an All-American and the winner of the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman. He went on to play for the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. Coach Manning’s career as head coach culminated in June of 2014 where he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame on the same night as Coach Hartline.

The fall of 2009 brought just the third head coach in MacArthur history to the forefront in the form of Highlander graduate and son of former head coach Ernie Manning, Brett Manning. He has piloted the Highlander ship for the past five years and has continued the tradition of football excellence by winning four district championships, entering the playoffs each season, making it to the semi-finals three times, and taking the 2011 squad to the state finals. Once again, however, a loss put another silver ball in the MacArthur trophy case. In his five years Coach Manning has coached six All State players.

Tradition, a common thread which binds each team together and is handed down to each new generation of Highlander players. What is that tradition which has made the MacArthur Highlander football program one of the most respected programs in Oklahoma? Perhaps it is the mindset created from the beginning that the pursuit of excellence is in itself a reward for all of the hard work each player gives. Perhaps it is the discipline that is developed by the demands of the program itself. Or maybe it is the idea of selflessness which emerges in the form of Highlander teams believing that
We Are One....We Are MacArthur. It may even be wrapped up neatly in a package called Legacy, which speaks to what each Highlander player and team leaves behind for the expectations of the next generation. The legacy of MacArthur football…..349 wins, 189 losses, 1 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP, 40 All Staters, 7 state finals appearances, 17 semi-final appearances, 32 years in the playoffs, 18 district championships. The legacy passed down is one of winning, but not just in winning. It is one of not only winning with dignity, but accepting defeat with class. It is a tradition of striving together, pressing on towards the goal, as one. Let no Highlander team ever forget to protect the Tradition!

Highlander Football, where excellence is the rule and not the exception.