Wagoner senior Lawrence Evitt, one of the state's best running backs, will likely have some help in the backfield this season with the return of Devin Hawkins.
Hawkins is trying to come back after suffering two ACL tears in his right knee. He first injured his knee during the Bulldogs' first scrimmage last season, and he suffered the second tear in February.
Now, there's a chance that Hawkins, who is also a senior, will be released in time for Wagoner's first game Sept. 6 against Coweta. Hawkins has already been released for non-contact drills.
“The other day when he went for his strength test, the strength in his injured leg would have been strong enough to get released has his good leg stayed the same, but his good leg strength increased too,” Wagoner coach Dale Condict said.
Evitt, who is No. 30 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of the top recruits in the state, is being recruited by Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oregon State and Memphis. He ran for 2,980 yards and 35 touchdowns last season.
CLEVELAND'S EXPERIENCE AND REPLACEMENTS
Offensively, the Cleveland Tigers are returning a lot of experience, with at least three wide receivers and running backs coming back. Former wide receiver Derek Reeves will fill the void at quarterback in his final season.
Defensively, though, Cleveland loses five of its front seven. That amounts to over 500 tackles. Look for senior and three-year starter Nathaniel Henley as well as junior and two-year starter AJ Sheets to lead the lines.
VINITA'S KING SWITCHES ROLES
Barring injury, Vinita senior Zac King likely would've broken the school record for career receptions this season.
But instead of catching passes, he'll be playing quarterback this season. Hornets coach Duwayne King, who is Zac's father, switched him back to the position he played as a freshman.
“We're going to run the triple option,” the elder King said. “He's the best bet at quarterback to make that happen.”
King had 37 catches last season after tying the school's single-season records with 56 catches a sophomore.
OOLOGAH'S SHOT-PUTTING LINEMAN
Tyler Base can bench 300 pounds, squat over 400 pounds and dead lift just about 500 pounds. That strength helped him rack up 72 pancakes last season.
So it makes sense that the 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior is a three-year starter at Oologah on the offensive and defensive lines.
He's being recruited by Division-I universities like New Mexico, Tulsa, North Texas and Lousiana-Monroe.
If all that doesn't speak enough to his strength, Base finished third at the state track meet in shot put in the spring.
*Tulsa McLain returns an impressive pair of two-way seniors. Wide receiver/defensive back Nigel Carter had 652 yards for nine touchdowns last season. Carter is committed to Tulsa. Senior Bishop Louie, who's also a wide receiver/defensive back, had 764 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Louie is being recruited by North Texas, Central Arkansas and Ohio.
*New Miami athletic director and football coach James Cheetham is looking for his team to get comfortable with two new systems: a spread up-tempo offense and a 4-2-5 attacking defense. The Wardogs went 0-10 for the first time in program history last season.
District 4A-3 coaches' poll
T1. Wagoner (11-2)
T1. Catoosa (5-6)
3. Oologah (6-5)
4. Tulsa McLain (7-3)
5. Cleveland (9-3)
6. Vinita (3-7)
7. Miami (0-10)
8. Tulsa Webster (1-9)
Note: Last season's records in parentheses.