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District 3A-7 preview: Sequoyah-Tahlequah ready for year without sanctions

By Cody Stavenhagen, For The Oklahoman Published: August 12, 2014
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Last season, Sequoyah-Tahlequah didn’t have a true spring period and also went without fall scrimmages a result of OSSAA sanctions stemming from players participating in camps at the school’s expense.

Coach Shane Richardson said that took its toll on his team’s mindset. However, entering a new year without the restrictions, the Indians have renewed enthusiasm.

“There’s still maybe some lingering effects of it, but we don’t talk about it in our locker room,” Richardson said. “We’re excited that we were able to go out this spring and this summer and go to work and see how we compare to other teams as opposed to kicking it off last year not knowing anything.”

With Zach Parish returning at quarterback and other talented players such as running back Justin Hooper leading the charge, Sequoyah-Tahlequah has the skill. And despite the hardships of last season, it might end up making the Indians better in 2014.

“It all builds, and it’s a key factor having confidence going into August knowing we are more ready than we were last year,” Richardson said.

THORNTON BRINGS HIGH TEMPO TO KEYS

In his first year at Keys, coach Tuffy Thornton has one goal at the top of his to-do list: develop a tempo as fast as any offense in the state.

Thornton picked up his no-huddle spread offense from his time as an assistant at Greenwood (Ark.) High School, where his teams won 50 consecutive games.

“You’re not always the most talented team on the field, but one of the things we had that was good was our tempo, offensively and defensively,” Thornton said. “The first thing is getting kids to practice fast, to play fast, a lot like Auburn or Oregon. The second thing is depth.”

And though Thornton won’t have the same kind of depth at Keys, he said he hopes he can condition his team well enough and take advantage of athletes playing both sides of the ball to make up for it.

“I wasn’t the head coach, but I saw how it’s done,” Thornton said. “Hopefully I can bring what I learned over to Keys and get a good program going.”

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DISTRICT 3A-7 COACHES’ POLL

1. Locust Grove (12-1)

2. Sequoyah-Claremore (6-5)

3. Sequoyah-Tahlequah (4-6)

4. Jay (6-5)

5. Inola (5-6)

6. Keys (1-9)

7. Westville (0-10)

Note: Last season’s record in parentheses

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