Tuttle battling lack of experiencePhil Koons’ Tuttle Tigers will get thrown into the fire very quickly. After opening at home against Marlow, the Tigers go on the road for three straight weeks, including games at Kingfisher and the district opener at Elgin. That will make for some rough times on a team looking to new starters at some key positions. Quarterback Tanner Koons is taking over for brother Sterling, who graduated. The running game remains primarily in the hands of Ethan Biddy, but his responsibilities at middle linebacker will open the door for junior Dylan Copenbarger to take some carries.
Clinton gets one more shot in 3AA year from now, Clinton will be back in Class 4A, but for now, the Red Tornadoes are intently focused on the 3A gold ball. With star running back Delans Griffin — who recently committed to Texas Tech — quarterback Ryan Stringer and a powerful offensive line returning, they’re easily among the favorites. "We’re satisfied with the team we’ve got and we know what we can do,” Griffin said. "This will be a good year for us, I believe. We need to practice better, so that we’re able to execute on game day.”
Speed will carry BlanchardLooking down his roster, Blanchard coach Jeff Craig probably wouldn’t mind seeing a few more fast-food restaurants move into town. The Lions have only a few players who weigh over 200 pounds this season. So they’ll turn their focus to speed on both sides of the ball. The spread offense is stacked with talent at the skill positions, with quarterback Blake Stringer and receivers Dalton Dolezal, Blaine Brooks, Adam Meave, B.J. Smith and Marshal Veal. "We’re a bunch of small, fast guys that play hard,” Veal said. "We never give up.”
Don’t overlook Newcastle O-lineNewcastle’s strength will be in the offensive and defensive backfields, where several returning players, including quarterback/safety Kyle Crossley, are primed for a good season. But on the lines, the Racers are coming together, particularly on offense with three returning starters. "We’ve got two new people, and it’s gonna be a challenge,” senior Taylor James said. "But our discipline level is settling down and we’re getting into the flow of things. We’re starting to execute real well right now.”
Santa Fe South Making progressNot many teams would enjoy a 2-8 season as much as Santa Fe South did last year. Sure, the Saints would have liked more victories, but getting those two after several winless years was a monumental step as the team enters its fifth season in existence. "We’re progressing,” coach Mike Cartmill said. "Obviously, everyone would like it to be faster than what it is, but we’re patient. We’re in a pretty tough district. "You can improve, but it doesn’t always show in the win-loss record. That’s where we are. I don’t know what our record will be, but I know we’ll be better than we’ve ever been.” By Scott Wright
District 3A-1 coaches’ poll→1. Clinton (10-3) →2. Tuttle (12-1) →3. Elgin (4-7) →4. Blanchard (6-6) →5. Newcastle (6-4) →6. Anadarko (4-6) →7. Cache (5-5) →8. Santa Fe South (2-8)