In 11 years as an assistant or head coach at Shawnee, Billy Brown doesn't remember the Wolves having as talented a group of wide receivers as they do this season.
Theo Berry and Kendall Gilbert anchored the unit last year, both with productive seasons. Berry is drawing some Division I recruiting attention, and Gilbert is a gifted 6-foot-3 junior. The unit also received a boost when Wolf Kienzle shifted back from quarterback to wideout.
Kienzle returned to receiver after the arrival of sophomore John Jacobs, a quarterback who moved in from Texas last Christmas.
“Wolf played receiver for us as a sophomore,” Brown said. “But he had to play quarterback for us last year. This allows us to put him back at his natural position, and it really strengthens us out there.”
The Wolves' mentality has been improved by the team's return to Class 5A after two difficult 6A seasons. Shawnee finished 1-9 last season, but it is predicted by coaches to qualify for the 5A playoffs this fall.
“The atmosphere is so much better,” Brown said. “We're doing what we've always done, just against different people. We know it's people on our level, and we can compete with them. We'll be in games for four quarters now, instead of only lasting until halftime.”
MCALESTER IN FAVORITE'S ROLE
McAlester has some holes to fill, but opposing coaches still see the Buffaloes as the district's top team.
A big reason is middle linebacker Devin Rolan, who anchors a strong defense.
Rolan has verbally committed to Tulsa, following Adam Boyd from last year's squad. The Buffs must also replace three-year starting quarterback Tony Kiefer.
District 5A-3 coaches' poll
1. McAlester (12-1)
2. Tulsa Kelley (8-3)
3. Shawnee (1-9)
4. Durant (5-6)
5. Skiatook (4-5)
6. Tulsa Memorial (3-6)
7. Noble (2-8)
8. Tulsa Hale (0-9)
Note: Last season's records in parentheses