Anadarko moves to Class 4A this season, but after losing 17 starters from last season's Class 3A state championship team, the transition may be challenging.
But coach Kent Jackson is embracing it.
“Everybody talks about 4A, and I know it's a bigger class, but really more important to us is who you play,” he said. “It's not the class, it's what district you're in. We're going to face a lot of tradition-rich schools that a lot of other 4A districts don't have.
“If you look at the four 4A districts, ours is the most successful by far. I told our guys years ago, if we're going to be an established program we're going to have to beat the good teams — the Clintons, the Weatherfords, the Tuttles — and we've done that the last four years.”
Anadarko has been in Class 4A before and is very familiar with teams in its district, which leads to little surprises.
But Jackson knows how special last season was and the likelihood of an exact repeat of that.
“Having a team like last year, you can't expect to have that every year,” he said. “Even the great programs … that was just a special bunch, but we feel like we've turned the corner in attitude and work ethic years ago, way before last year and the year before that. Now we're seeing the fruits of it having some good groups coming back-to-back-to-back, and we're banking on that to make us successful this year.”
FOSTER EXPECTED TO BE READY
Piedmont wide receiver Christian Foster, who had 952 receiving yards last year, missed the Wildcats' scrimmage Friday night against Kingfisher because he is nursing an ankle injury.
Foster tore ligaments in his ankle while playing basketball in late May.
“I went up for a rebound and just came down on it wrong and rolled it,” Foster said. “I was in a boot and crutches while the ligaments heal back together. There is a little bit of pain now, but it's getting better.”
Foster started practicing with the team Wednesday and expects to be ready for Piedmont's season opener.
One person who is eager to see Foster back to full strength is new Wildcats quarterback Darrius Burris.
“When he comes back, it's going to be a one-two combo with that fade route,” Burris said.
CLINTON PICKED TO WIN
Both teams picked atop the district have huge holes to fill.
Anadarko returns just two offensive and four defensive starters from last season.
Clinton, the team picked to win the district, didn't fare much better.
The Red Tornadoes have just three offensive and four defensive starters back from last season's 12-2 team.
But Clinton has a talented group coming up that, while it needs experience, figures to be very good if it stays intact through the season.
Clinton's top returner is junior wide receiver/defensive back Devon Mitchell, who had nine interceptions a year ago.
The Red Tornadoes also have a formidable line that includes junior Grant Lee (6-foot-2, 280 pounds) on both sides.
District 4A-1 coaches' poll
1. Clinton (12-2)
2. Anadarko (15-0)
3. Weatherford (6-5)
4. Piedmont (6-5)
5. Elk City (6-4)
6. Woodward (6-6)
7. Elgin (4-6)
8. Cache (1-9)
Note: Last year's records in parentheses