Metro Christian has big shoes to fill at the quarterback position with the graduation of Matt Woolslayer.
But whoever wins the three-player competition — between juniors Alex Schmitz and Justin Harrell, and sophomore Abe Anderson — will have the benefit of playing with plenty of talent around them.
“Our receiver depth and running back depth is phenomenal,” said coach Jared McCoy. “I think we're a legit two-deep and maybe even three-deep in some places there.”
Leading the way in the Patriots' deep receiving corps is Danny Burke. The senior caught passes for 1,123 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012.
Defensively, the Patriots will be led by linebacker Hayden Hillenburg, who racked up 154 tackles last season.
MONIZ OUT INDEFINITELY FOR SEQ.-CLAREMORE
Sequoyah-Claremore quarterback Daniel Moniz lead the Eagles on a surprise run to the Class 3A quarterfinals last season.
After tearing an ACL in his knee this summer, the senior will begin this season on the sideline. Moniz, a dual-threat talent, passed for over 1,500 yards and rushed for over 1,700 last season.
“I'm very confident that Daniel is going to play, but I'm not sure when,” said coach Jody Iams. “He's way ahead of schedule and it's amazing the things they can do now, so we'll see.
“Our schedule helps because in our first five games we only have one district game. If he's not playing by the sixth game then something has happened and he's not going to play. I would never want to do anything to jeopardize his future.”
The Eagles also may start the season without top running back Garrett Shepherd, who had minor knee surgery in July. Iams says he's confident Shepherd won't miss any games, but there is no timetable for his return either.
HASSENPLUG, SMITH LEAD BERRYHILL DEFENSE
Berryhill returns two of the top defensive players in Class 3A with linebacker Lane Hassenplug and defensive end Jeremy Smith.
Hassenplug led the Chiefs last season with 140 tackles and five sacks.
Smith, who has verbally committed to Tulsa, is also a standout offensively. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior had 40 catches from the tight end position last year.
Ty Walker, the Chiefs' top running back last season, is expected to start at quarterback.
VERDIGRIS PICKED LOW
Verdigris hasn't missed the playoffs since 2005, but a lot has changed from the Cardinals' 10-2 playoff team last season.
The preseason coaches' poll reflects that, as Verdigris is picked to finish outside the playoffs in coach Tony Daniels' first year.
If they want to keep the postseason streak alive, the Cardinals must overcome the graduation of several key contributors, including star running back Tanner Smith.
Verdigris does return leading tackler Seth McLaughlin (111).
District 3A-5 coaches' poll
T1. Berryhill (9-2)
T1. Metro Christian (10-3)
3. Seq.-Claremore (7-6)
4. Dewey (5-5)
5. Verdigris (10-2)
6. Sperry (3-7)
7. Blackwell (0-10)
Note: Last season's records in parentheses.