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JAMES CORLEY Modified: August 11, 2009 at 11:18 pm •  Published: August 11, 2009

/> Assistant coach Brad Ballard said the staff is most excited to have strong offensive and defensive lines. One of the biggest reasons is senior defensive end and right tackle Cole Johnson.

Johnson played wide receiver and safety as a freshman. He bulked up and learned to play defensive end the next year.

Johnson said he’d always wanted to be a receiver, so when he was asked to make the switch, he was a little upset.

"I just thought the line was an unskilled position,” he said. "But when I got down there, I learned how much skill and talent it really takes to be a lineman.”

Johnson said his speed and his size made him a formidable defensive end.

"Even if you’re a slow receiver, you’re going to become a fast defensive end,” coach Darren Melton said. "Cole learned to use his hands and be physical, and he’s done a great job making the transition.”

The race for second place in the District 2A-7 coaches’ poll was tight. Sperry and Nowata both finished the regular season 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the district. Verdigris finished 5-5 overall but 5-2 in district play.