Heritage Hall was looking for a spark. Football coach Andy Bogert knew exactly who could provide it in the state semifinals against Bethany.
Loaded with a litany of talented skill players and one of the most dynamic players in the state in Sterling Shepard, Bogert went big.
Real big. Bogert called upon lineman Markus Wakefield to give the team a boost. And Wakefield did just that, throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Shepard on the first drive of the game en route to the victory.
There were two big reasons why Bogert knew he could trust Wakefield to make the right decision. Despite being 6-foot-1 and 270 pounds, Wakefield has one of the best arms on the team and puts touch on the ball.
But even more important, Bogert said Wakefield is one of the smartest players he's ever coached and comes in at No. 25 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 for the class of 2012.
“Markus knows the game really well,” running back Barry J. Sanders said. “He knows his position better than anybody and knows where everybody is supposed to be.”
That's not by accident. Wakefield is a two-way starter on the offensive and defensive line, but his future appears to be on the defensive front in college.
But it doesn't matter where Wakefield ends up playing because he knows the responsibilities of everybody that's out there.
“It starts Monday with the scouting reports,” Wakefield said. “I read those over and over until I know everything. I have to figure out what they (opponents) like to do, how they get it done and how we need to stop it.”
Through his first three years, that's been a pretty good recipe for success. He's been a first-team Little All-City offensive lineman the last two years but exploded on the defensive side of the ball in 2010.
Wakefield tied Quintaz Struble for the team lead with 15 sacks and added 137 tackles. And though the explosiveness of the offense received a lot of the attention, the Chargers defense was just as instrumental in winning the state championship.
The incoming seniors for Heritage Hall have been talked about for a long time. Sanders and Shepard have become two of the biggest recruits in the nation, but Wakefield is an example that it's not just the fast kids standing out for the Chargers.
“Every year, I'm just looking to get a little bit better,” Wakefield said. “I can't compare myself to them (Sanders and Shepard). I have to work on what I need to do.”
That mindset has helped. It took a little bit longer than anticipated, but the college attention is coming. Wakefield already has an offer from Colorado State and has been among the busiest recruits this summer going from camp to camp.
“In the spring, the interest started to pick up after coaches got my highlight film,” Wakefield said. “I'm just staying focused on what I can control, and I'm looking to be one of the leaders in the fall.”
Oklahoman Super 30 No. 25: Markus Wakefield School: Heritage Hall Height: 6-1 Weight: 270 pounds Position: Defensive lineman Offers: Colorado State and receiving interest from several Big 12 schools