Running back Landon Nault is the top playmaker in Kingfisher's offense as he enters his junior season and third year as a starter. Quarterback Grant Newton is the glue that holds the unit together.
But their jobs are made much easier with a big and experienced offensive line in front of them.
Mitch Henderson, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound senior, anchors the unit that essentially returns four starters. Seniors Cole Cameron and Chris Ludwig, as well as sophomore Kaden Jackson, will fill spots once again for the Yellowjackets.
“We've got each other's backs, and we're used to it,” said Henderson, who is being recruited by Tulsa. “We're aggressive, and we know we've got good teammates beside us. We do work.”
NICHOLS KEY FOR NEWCASTLE
As passing offenses continue to become more prevalent in high school, the value of a strong cornerback grows.
Newcastle coach Keith Bolles knows how important Cade Nichols will be from that position this season after a standout junior year in 2011.
Nichols closed off his side of the field, recording five interceptions and 39 tackles. He also accounted for four receiving touchdowns.
The Racers' defense will also count on senior lineman Justin Coryell, an experienced 6-4, 260-pound senior who will start both ways.
JOHN MARSHALL YOUNG BUT EXPERIENCED
John Marshall returns starters at 16 positions — 10 on defense — and virtually all of them were freshmen and sophomores a year ago, which has the Bears in position to get back in the playoffs after a couple of tough seasons.
Leading the way among the returners is quarterback/free safety Devion Smith. Now a junior, the 6-1, 175-pounder will be starting for the third season. He accounted for nearly 1,400 yards rushing and passing a year ago.
The offensive line is anchored by Austin Anderson, another junior and third-year starter who is being recruited by Cornell.
Star Spencer is making progress in coach James Harding's second season. The Bobcats will count heavily on senior Kyle Atkins, who will anchor the offensive line. ... Bethel lost its coach in late July, when Eddie Paul was hired as the athletic director at Norman North. But Bethel landed a highly regarded assistant for his first head-coaching job. Mark Morgan, previously on the Midwest City staff, takes over a program that was 4-6 last season. ... New Centennial coach Don Willis will rely on a couple of talented running backs in Terrance Barnes and Trevon Threatt, who will each double as linebackers as well. They are among returning starters at 15 positions for the Bison.
By Scott Wright
District 3A-3 coaches' poll
1. Heritage Hall (12-1)
2. Kingfisher (9-2)
3. Newcastle (5-6)
4. John Marshall (4-6)
5. Bethel (4-6)
(tie) Star Spencer (1-9)
7. Centennial (1-9)
*-Last year's record in parentheses