I can’t remember a first day of football practice quite as unique as this one — for me, at least.
In the span of seven hours Tuesday, I visited three high school practices, where I witnessed pure excitement for a new season at Mustang, pure devastation all across the town of Luther, and pure domination that will be possible from what I rank as the most daunting high school defensive lines assembled in Oklahoma in recent memory.
For those who missed it, here’s what I wrote from Douglass.
And here’s my story and video from Luther.
Mustang, your story is still a day away. Sorry. However, I’m not exaggerating the excitement level at Bronco Stadium Tuesday morning. Offensively, the team is looking forward to a full season under QB Frankie Edwards, who got a few starts a year ago. For Mustang faithful, the offense will go back to looking similar to the Matt Edmonds/Kyle Webster teams in some ways, and different from anything you’ve seen in other ways, essentially in formations, diversity and creativity to get the ball to the best players.
Defensively, the excitement forms around new defensive coordinator Mark Ryan, who has been a head coach in the metro area, most recently at Centennial, where he battled a serious illness that kept him away from the game much of last year. He looks healthy, and he’s taking over a defensive unit with a lot of experience. Many of the current seniors were forced into action as sophomores.
At Douglass, I found myself intently watching non-contact, half-speed lineman drills against air. Typically, something like that would rank somewhere near the excitement level of fencing (either the Olympic sport or actually building a fence).
But I watched and tried to imagine exactly what this DE duo will be capable of. They combined for somewhere between 35 and 400 (exaggeration, not a typo) sacks last year separately. It will be a race to the QB on every third-and-long this season.
As for Luther, I won’t belittle what has happened — and is happening — there by trying to force it into a blog full of football analysis and weakly developed punch lines. To quote Luther coach Shawn Meek, “high school football takes a back seat to real life.” Click the link above to see the story and video, and that tells the story of what I saw in that courageous yet devastated town on Tuesday.
I’ll make the rounds again on Wednesday, including a few hours at the OSSAA for a board meeting, but I’ll be sure to hit a couple practices and share my thoughts once again.