Some thought it strange that Woodland, coming off a Class A state football title two years ago and a runner-up finish last year, would ask the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to drop to Class B and eight-man football this season.
Even the Woodland community wasn't fond of the idea, but the school didn't have much of a choice, said coach Joe Sindelar.
“The numbers are dictating that,” Sindelar said. “Our school is getting smaller. We got four classes in a row that just don't have very many male athletes.”
Coming off its success in Class A, Woodland will be the favorite to win the District B-3 title and possibly the Class B state championship. It's a perfect time for the school to make the transition from 11-man to eight-man football, as Sindelar was one of the best coaches in the eight-man game before coming to Woodland.
Sindelar led Morrison to three state titles in eight-man football before retiring from coaching and taking a job as a principal in Woodland.
When Woodland found itself without a football coach shortly before the season began two years ago, Sindelar was coaxed back to the sidelines.
Sindelar said he never intended to coach again when he left Morrison but the layoff did recharge his batteries.
“I kind of find myself re-energized,” he said. “I got away from the negative parts of coaching that kind of grind on you all those years and now I am having a blast. I have a great deal of passion for the game and the kids again.”
That's bad news for the rest of Class B.
Woodland lost several seniors from last year, “terrific skilled position players that's hard to replace,” Sindelar said. But the cupboard isn't bare as Sindelar has talent and experience returning.
Flanker Zalin Edwards will move to quarterback this season. Tight end Kirk Shaw along with offensive linemen Tanner Botts and Drew Harrison are back to anchor the front.
“With what we have returning, we are certainly going to be competitive,” Sindelar said.
LIFE AFTER MAGNUS SCOTT
Coyle will find out what life is like without Magnus Scott this season.
Coyle's star running back, a 100- and 200-meter Class A state champion, will now be sprinting for the Kansas State track squad. Scott's times in the 100 and 200 meters were among the best in the state in any class.
“It's hard to replace someone who was that fast,” Coyle coach Shane Weathers said. “Last year when Magnus got around the corner, not anybody was going to catch him. That luxury is gone.”
Weathers thinks his club will still score points this season, just not as fast. Without Scott, Coyle will play more “smashmouth” football, relying on an experienced offensive line to run between the hash marks, Weathers said.
“We are going to control the football a little more,” Weathers said. “We are going to go right at you. The good thing is we have both the entire defensive and offensive line back. We will still try to hit you on the corner. We are still going to have a lot of speed.”