Foyil, a team that won two playoff games last season before losing in the Class A quarterfinals to Carnegie, is the pick to repeat as champions in District A-8.
But the team with the most experience returning is Fairland, which was a surprise last season with its second-place finish in the district.
Last season, the Owls hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1988 and led Hominy 20-0 before losing 21-20 in the first round.
With only three starters graduating from last year, Fairland coach Jerry Johnson believes the Owls can be a district title contender this season.
“We snuck up on everybody else in our district last year,” Johnson said. “We are going to be mostly seniors and juniors this year. We do have a very strong upperclassman group. We are real optimistic.”
Among Fairland's returning starters is 6-2, 190-pound quarterback K.C. Jones, who rushed for 934 yards and 11 touchdowns last season while tossing four scores and passing for 606 yards.
Also returning are standout tight end Tyran Jones, running back Caleb Reynolds and tackle Slate Boyer. In addition, the Owls have more depth than in past seasons, Johnson said.
It could be a special year for Fairland if “we can stay healthy and make good grades, those kind of things,” Johnson said.
Blowing a 20-point lead in the playoffs stung for a long time, Johnson said. But on the positive side, “it makes you look forward to next year that much more because you were so close,” he said.
WARNER HEADING NORTH
Warner is a new face in District A-8. Third-year coach Chris McMullen said it should be his best team since taking over the program.
“We got nine starters returning on offense and eight on defense,” said McMullen, who previously coached at both Tecumseh and Bristow. “A lot of those guys have started since they were sophomore and a couple since they were freshmen. We are excited. We think we are going to have a pretty good year.”
District A-8 Coaches' Poll
1. Foyil (9-4)
2. Fairland (5-5)
3. Afton (8-3)
4. Warner (5-5)
5. Liberty (3-7)
6. Porter (0-9)
7. Summit Christian (3-7)
Note: Last season's record in parentheses.