McAlester poised to rebound this seasonA 5-6 record from 2008 might not look inspiring, but McAlester lost its first four games and finished with a flurry that led to a playoff berth. The Buffaloes enter 2009 as the coaches’ pick to win District 5A-4 with 15 returning starters, including three-year starting middle linebacker Jessie Patton, safety Chance Carey and offensive lineman Matt Eldridge, who has recovered from a torn ACL suffered in the season finale. "We have a great bunch of kids with leadership across the board,” coach Bryan Pratt said. "This group learned how to win late and the maturity and experience has carried over.”
EAST CENTRAL WANTS MOREMost programs would consider an 8-3 season an accomplishment, but perennial power Tulsa East Central is not one of them. "I think whenever you win a state championship and have undefeated seasons you’re going to be a little disappointed,” coach Travis Hill said. "But there are two ways to look at it, when you go 8-3 and you’re disappointed, that’s probably a good thing.” Even though East Central might lack the star power it has had in recent years with Pearlie Graves (Texas Tech) and David Gordon (Arkansas), Hill said this year’s team has sleepers that will prove themselves hot commodities in recruiting, and they will help make a solid foundation as the Cardinals contend for championships. Hill said senior quarterback Dillon Wallace (6-4, 205) is a "fantastic prospect who does a terrific job running the offense.” Hill was high on senior corner Steven Daniels (5-11, 170), too. The Cards have wide receiver Keith Ross, who could be one of the best in the state despite a small stature at 5-9, 165.
BURCHAM PLEASED WITH TURNOUTCoweta lost 11 starters from last season’s district title team, but it helped build the foundation for future Tiger teams with interest buzzing around the program at all levels. Coach Bubba Burcham said the undefeated district run and a 9-3 season has had a significant impact with player turnout and interest in the junior high program. "It benefited us big time,” Burcham said. "You see the success, and interest builds. It excites me to see the young kids getting into it and building the drive to get there. "The best part it they saw how hard the team worked and what it takes to be a part of that type of team so the work ethic is heightened.”
TAHLEQUAH GAINS CONFIDENCECoach Kenneth Thornton and the Tahlequah Tigers are making a major change following a 3-7 season and a 3-4 record in District 5A-4. The Tigers are switching from a 3-4 defensive lineup to a base 4-3 scheme to better fit their skill level. Thornton said the switch has gone well. "We spent three years teaching them to stunt. Now we’re teaching them to play defense,” Thornton said. "It’s more sound, and there won’t be as many big plays, which was a big problem for us.” The senior-laden Tigers are led on defense by safety Seth French (6-foot, 175 pounds) and linebacker Matt Frits (6-1, 195), who had more than 100 tackles as a junior. "We didn’t have the personnel to play a 3-4,” Thornton said. "The kids are a lot more confident in what we’re doing now.”
McAlester poised to rebound this season