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District B-4 football preview: Keota wants to take the next step

The Lions are seeking their first district championship in nearly 20 years and a deeper playoff run.
by Ed Godfrey Published: August 30, 2014
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Two years ago, Keota finished third in its district and got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by Fox.

Last year, the Lions were the district runner-up and lost in the second round on the road to eventual state champion Laverne.

This season, the Lions are seeking their first district championship in nearly 20 years and a deeper playoff run.

“Every year we seem like we are getting one step closer,” Keota coach Eric Henry said. “If we can stay healthy and the kids stay hooked up, we got a chance.”

Keota is the preseason favorite in District B-4 as the Lions return five starters on both sides of the ball including standout running back/linebacker Seth Bryant, (6-0, 180 pounds) who last year set a school record for yards rushing and touchdowns in a single season.

Bryant rushed for 2,088 yards and scored 40 touchdowns combined on offense and defense.

“We kind of feed off him,” Henry said of the senior.

Keota also returns junior starting quarterback Jace Welch (6-1, 185 pounds) who passed and ran for more than 1,400 yards and scored 30 touchdowns.

The key for Keota will be replacing three of four starters on the offensive and defensive lines. The only returning starter is center/defensive tackle David Henson (6-0, 250 pounds), a three-year starter.

Henry, though, said the Lions do have linemen returning with playing experience.

“We have some kids that got some playing time last year. They just didn’t start for us,” he said. “We got some kids in the backfield that might put some points on the board if we can get some other kids to help them out a bit.”

WETUMKA LOOKS TO RELOAD

Wetumka has been undefeated in district play the past two seasons and averaged more than 10 wins over the last four years.

But this year former Morris coach Larry Crenshaw takes over at Wetumka and gets the job of rebuilding the Chieftains. Wetumka returns just two starters.

“We are basically pretty close to starting all over,” Crenshaw said. “They (Wetumka) had a pretty group of athletes the last four years who started from the time they were freshmen.

“Wetumka lost nine seniors from last year’s squad and seven of them played in the eight-man all-state game. That tells you what kind of talent they had.”

Wetumka may lack experience, but the Chieftains have size. The Chieftains’ linemen range in size from 235 to 327 pounds, including three players weighing near or above 300 pounds.

“We’re huge upfront,” Crenshaw said. “We are definitely big enough not to get pushed around. If we do, it’s our fault.”

WELEETKA EYEING A PLAYOFF SPOT

Weleetka returns five starters on offense and six on defense, and coach Rodney Bencoma expects the Outlaws to improve on last season’s 5-5 record.

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by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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