Stroud will have to hit the ground running. The Tigers open the season with Class 2A runner-up Chandler, then face district contenders Stratford and Wewoka in weeks two and three. "We don’t have time to tippy-toe around,” Stroud coach Chris Elerick said. "We have Chandler, then we play two of the best teams (in our district) back-to-back.” Stroud won the district title a year ago and enters the season as the favorite this year.
SOONER-LADEN COACHING STAFFHead coach Charley North has put together a solid coaching staff in his first year at Dibble. Former Oklahoma Sooners J.R. Conrad, Stephen Alexander and Jacob Guiterrez are members of the staff, which is taking over a program that went 0-10 last season. North was an assistant at OU from 1979 to 1994.
QB BATTLE AT STRATFORDStratford coach Michael Blackburn said senior Tyler Mills will likely be the starting quarterback this season but expects junior Chase Chamberlain to compete for the job during August practices. "They’ll be our backfield either way,” Blackburn said. "One will play quarterback, one will play running back.” Mills had 363 combined rushing and passing yards in four games last season, and Chamberlain had 827 rushing yards and 535 passing yards a year ago.
NEARING 4,000 YARDSIt’s been a stellar career for Stroud running back Cody Pritchard. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior has 3,800 rushing yards heading into his final campaign for the Tigers. "On the short list of guys in Class A, he’s right there with the best of them,” Elerick said. "He’s got great speed, balance and he’s fearless. He’s just a good football player.” Pritchard, who rushed for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, is a four-year starter for Stroud.
KEEP AN EYE ON GAINESStratford sophomore Tyler Gaines was more than solid during his freshman season. The 6-foot, 165-pounder started at linebacker as Stratford went 6-5 in 2008. Gaines had 47 tackles, one sack and one interception last season. "He surprised us last year,” Blackburn said. "He does what you ask and is seldom out of position.”
CLASS A’s TOP DUAL THREAT?Wayne quarterback Josh Barrett ranks as one of the top run-pass threats in Class A. He rushed for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns while passing for 1,250 yards and 15 scores as a junior. The senior didn’t rest on defense either, amassing 86 tackles.
DOUBTING DEWAR?Led by Oklahoma signee Ronnell Lewis, Dewar finished 10-2 overall and 7-1 in district play. The Dragons finished second in District A-5 in 2008, but with the loss of Lewis, an Oklahoman All-Stater, district coaches expect a drop off for the Dragons. Dewar is picked to finish fourth in the district.
Tough three weeks for Stroud