Lincoln Christian returns a total of five players from its 2009 Class 2A state championship team, but the Bulldogs are still the favorite to win District 2A-7.
There's still plenty of talent on the roster and the squad is deep with more than 50 players. But there will be a lot of learning-on-the-run players as the Bulldogs have just two offensive starters from 2009 back.
"We have a young team and will need playing time to season us," said Lincoln Christian coach Darren Melton. "If we can mature early and stay healthy, I think we can be very competitive."
Senior Grant Towry and junior Brennen Evans are two of the Bulldogs' most experienced players. And Towry may be their best. The 6-2, 243-pounder starts on the offensive and defensive lines. Evans, who had 11 receptions last season, has spent time as a starter for two years.
Senior Chris Turner looks to take over at quarterback. As a backup last season, he threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns and one interception.
Newkirk's touchdown maker
Newkirk coach Barrett Shupe calls receiver Connor Pulley the best player no one has heard about.
That's likely to change this season. In 2009, as a sophomore, he caught 18 passes for 309 yards. And while those numbers aren't all eye-popping, one does jump out. Of the 18 catches, Pulley scored a touchdown on nine of them. Aside from getting into the end zone on half his receptions, Pulley has great size for a 2A wideout, staning 6-3 and weighing 185 pounds.
District 2A-7 coaches poll
1. Lincoln Christian (14-1)
2. Pawnee (9-3)
3. Pawhuska (11-3)
4. Newkirk (6-5)
5. Chelsea (5-5)
6. Caney Valley (1-9)
7. Chouteau (1-9)
Note: 2009 record in parenthesis