After breezing through the regular season unscathed and averaging 53.3 points per game, the Alex Longhorns were in the driver’s seat for a state title.
They fell two wins short of that goal. Alex, which handily beat Ringwood and Davenport in the first two rounds of the postseason last year, stumbled in the state semifinals, losing 58-26 against Pond Creek-Hunter.
If coach Matt Brand’s team took anything away from that playoff loss, it’s simply gaining the experience and knowledge of what it takes to win a state championship.
“I think we were just as talented as the teams that won,” coach Matt Brand said. “But we were inexperienced compared to them.”
Alex returns five offensive starters and four defensive starters, including quarterback Dalton Alcorn, running back Kyler Thornburg and tight end Jacob Otey.
ALLEN RETURNING SOME FIREPOWER
Allen drew the short straw to start the playoffs last year.
The Mustangs opened the postseason against Class B champion Laverne and were punched in the mouth coming out the gate, falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter.
But Allen is confident coming into the season, and for good reason. The Mustangs return seven offensive starters, including quarterback Justin Deaton and running back Dalton James. Deaton threw for 1,300 yards and ran for 500 yards, and James tore up defenses for more than 2,000 total yards, about 1,600 of which came on the ground.
For Allen to be successful in 2014, those two are going to have to have big years.
“After the offensive line, that’s where it starts, with those two,” coach Kenny Deaton, Justin’s father, said. “We have some other good backs, too, but those two get us going.”
Kenny Deaton is still looking for the team’s starting center, and that job may go to freshman Tanner Wofford.
MAUD’S BROTHERLY LOVE
A quarter of Maud’s starters are related.
Twins Andrew and Eric Browning, both juniors, are the Tigers’ starting quarterback and running back and work together in the secondary as the team’s starting free safety and cornerback. Andrew attacks defenses through the air and on the ground, totaling 1,380 yards and 24 touchdowns, and Eric ran for 536 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013. The Browning brothers combined for five interceptions, too.
While the two are working toward the same goal of earning a playoff berth, they constantly have a little brotherly competition going on, according to coach Bruce Harrell.
“They’re very competitive with each other in practice,” he said. “It’s definitely not in a bad way. They both just want to succeed. If one of them messes up, sometimes they are quicker to jump and call each other on it than (the coaches) are.”
Sometimes that sibling rivalry earns the team some extra running at the end of practice.
“If a player says something to another one we give them a mark and we run for it at the end,” Harrell said. “It’s kind of comical because them two have a hard time not getting on each other.”
To help the twins in the offensive backfield, Devon Reid will be splitting time at running back with Eric Browning.
Allen returns all eight defensive starters, but coach Kenny Deaton is changing the team’s defensive scheme to the 3-2 defense because of how sound and successful of a defense it has proven to be in eight-man. … The Mustangs had a setback on the first day of full-contact practice by losing Jason Holcomb, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound guard, for part of the season with a broken fibula. … Maud will have a lot of experience on the offensive line, returning Wyatt Stinnett, Decota Hoskinson and Colton Grove. … The key to Waurika’s success will be to use its quickness to its advantage, and that’ll start with running back/linebacker Zane Howard.
District B-2 Coaches’ Poll
1. Alex (12-1)
2. Maysville (2-8)
3. Allen (6-5)
4. Maud (5-5)
5. Cyril (5-5)
6. Waurika (1-9)
7. Strother (5-5)
8. Geary (2-8)
9. Bray-Doyle (1-9)
10. Macomb (0-10)
*Last year’s records in parentheses