Lawrence Evitt was the bulk of Wagoner's offensive production during the defending District 4A-3 champions’ run to the 4A semifinal game last year. He ran for 2,641 yards and 31 touchdowns and averaged 203.2 rushing yards per game, helping him earn a spot at Central Oklahoma.
Coming into 2014, Bulldogs coach Dale Condict will have to find a new workhorse for his run-heavy offense. But the load will not fall on just one running back’s shoulders, Condict said.
Senior Roman Rodriguez and sophomore K.J. Lee are expected to be key contributors in the running game. Rodriguez averaged 7.5 yards per carry and had six touchdowns last season, and Lee ran for 243 yards on 35 attempts during his freshman year.
CASCIA HALL LIKES BEING THE NEW THREAT IN THE NEW DISTRICT
The Commandos are the new guys on the block for District 4A-3, which also makes them the new threat on the block.
Multiple coaches have Cascia Hall, who finished second in District 4A-4 last season, listed near the top of their district coaches’ polls. And Cascia Hall coach Joe Medina likes that despite knowing how tough a task his team faces in winning this year’s district title.
“I think there’s a lot of respect there for our program,” Medina said. “There’s always going to be pressure in a competitive business as we’re in.
“I like that situation. I like to be the marked team.”
FATHER-SON COMBINATION LOOKING TO GET OOLOGAH OVER THE HUMP
Oologah has finished second in the district for three straight years, and coach Brandon Craig and his son look to get over that hurdle after having a busy summer.
Senior Payton Craig enters his third season running his father’s offense following a year in which he found success as a dual-threat quarterback. He totaled 1,939 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013.
While the summer has been focused on improving and the Mustangs building toward a district title, the past few months have been a busy one for the Craig father and son. Brandon and Payton drove around the country making many college visits, including to SMU, North Texas, Louisiana-Monroe, Missouri State and Air Force, Brandon said.
“We’ve had a lot of road time together,” Brandon said. “It’s a process we’re going through. Sometimes it’s nice; sometimes it’s brutal. You get told some things you don’t want to hear, but it’s a good process to be going through.”
Payton enters the season without any scholarship offers.
KEY FOR CATOOSA IS STAYING HEALTHY, GETTING BIG-PLAY GUYS THE BALL
Catoosa coach Aaron Meier knows this district is tough, especially since adding Cascia Hall.
So the key to staying competitive and making a run at the district title will be to remain healthy, Meier said, and for him, that means keeping his big-play players on the field and getting them the ball. The Indians return senior Devon Hemphill (145 carries, 1,042 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns), senior wide receiver/defensive back Nathan Varano and senior wide receiver/defensive back Chase Nevel as their big-play threats.
“Those guys can really run,” Meier said. “They tore the track up this year. We’ve got to find a way to get them the ball and hopefully get them in space, see if they can run a little bit.”
Wagoner senior quarterback Jake Woodson threw the ball only 50 times last season, completing 46 percent of his passes for 401 yards, but Condict said he feels like the team’s passing numbers will improve considering Woodson has a year of starting experience under his belt. … One of Cleveland’s top wide receivers Tyler Myles has been working his way back from elbow surgery, and first-year coach Todd Wilson said he is hopeful Myles will be ready to go for the season opener against Hominy on Sept. 4. Myles caught 35 passes for 500 yards and four touchdowns last year. … Oologah junior running back Jimmy McKinney is expected to have a big year after rushing for 1,286 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games last year. McKinney is a two-way player, so Brandon Craig said he has to keep an eye on how exactly to use McKinney to keep him healthy and avoid wearing him out. … Medina says Cascia Hall has a shot at winning the district title because of its experience and depth, headlined by its weapons on offense. The Commandos return senior starting quarterback Michael Bloomfield (1,075 passing yards, 15 touchdowns) and senior wide receiver Reece Lambert (46 receptions, 754 yards, 11 touchdowns).
DISTRICT 4A-3 COACHES’ POLL
1. Cascia Hall (9-2)
2. Wagoner (12-1)
3. Oologah (8-4)
4. Catoosa (8-4)
5. Cleveland (5-6)
6. Tulsa McLain (5-5)
7. Miami (3-7)
8. Vinita (2-8)
*Last year’s records in parentheses