There are a lot of new faces in District C-2 this season.
There is only one new school in the district as Gracemont replaces Thackerville, but there are six new head football coaches.
Only Tipton's Jim Kerbo and Ryan's Stan Mueggenberg are back from last season as head coaches of their schools.
It's probably no coincidence that Tipton and Ryan are also expected to be the two best teams in the district.
THIS COULD BE TIPTON'S YEAR
Tipton, coming off a defeat to Shattuck in last year's Class C state championship game, is not only the favorite to win its district, but many think Tipton will be hoisting the state championship trophy this year after losing just three starters to graduation.
“Tipton is going to be loaded,” Mueggenberg said. “They have a chance to be real, real good.”
Returning to Tipton is senior tailback Josh Torres, who is being heavily recruited. Torres has rushed for 3,800 yards in his career, including 1,600 yards last season.
“He is just a very versatile athlete, a super player,” Kerbo said.
Linebacker Kenon White anchors the defense, and some opposing coaches think he is the best player on the team.
Kerry White, a three-year starter at quarterback, is gone. Kerbo will turn to White's younger brother, Gerald, as the club's new signal caller.
“I think he has got a chance to be as good or better than his older brother,” Kerbo said. “I wouldn't look for him to immediately play on that level, but before the season is over I think Gerald will be on the same level as his brother.”
Kerbo said the younger White gained experience as the backup quarterback last year.
“He will probably go through some growing pains but he's played a lot,” Kerbo said. “It's not like he's green.”
Kerbo admits expectations are very high for this year's squad.
“Losing in the finals last year is a driving factor for these kids,” he said. “Anything less than winning it (state title) will probably be a letdown for them.”
LOOK OUT FOR RYAN
Ryan is young but talented, and Mueggenberg is excited not only about this season, but the future of the program.
Sophomore quarterback Trent Dunaway started eight games as a freshman last season for a Ryan squad that lost in the first round of the playoffs to Shattuck.
Running back Harold Thompson returns and will be joined in the backfield by Ben Barrett, who is moving from the offensive line to fullback.
“He is a hoss,” Mueggenberg said of Barrett. “At team camp, he impressed the daylights out of me.”
Mueggenberg also likes his offensive line of sophomore center Fulton Villereal, who started as a freshman at the position; right guard McCain Rawlings; left guard Chase Lewis and blocking tight end Jesse Dominguez, who also anchors the defense at linebacker along with Tyler Brown.
Sophomore wide receiver Austin Hawthorne “has good speed and great hands,” Mueggenberg said.
Ryan has played in five state championship games in school history but never won a title. Mueggenberg thinks this group of players has a chance to make history someday.
“I am very excited about this coming year, and I am very excited about the next three years,” he said.
A RIVALRY RENEWED
While Ryan's game with Tipton this season might determine the district champ, it's not the most important game to the fans.
That game is Ryan's season opener against Waurika, which is dropping from 11-man football to eight-man this year.
Ryan and Waurika are only nine miles apart. Local residents have told Mueggenberg that if he only wins one game this season, it better be that one.
The two schools haven't played a football game against each other in 20 years “but they all talk like it was yesterday,” Mueggenberg said.
The folks in Jefferson County are looking forward to the season opener, he said.
“Everybody in Jefferson County will be there,” he said. “It will set the tone the whole year for us, I guarantee you that.”
CHANGING THE CULTURE IN CEMENT
New Cement head football coach Matt Seid returns to Oklahoma this season after two years coaching in Ohio.
Seid previously spent six seasons at Cache before leaving for Ohio, three as the school's head coach.
He is returning to Oklahoma to be closer to family and will try to build a program in Cement, which has never had a winning football season, including going 0-9 last year.
The biggest obstacle he faces is getting the kids to believe in themselves.
“If we can get over the mental hurdle, we will be OK,” Seid said. “We will compete on Friday nights.”
Wide receiver Cody White will be the “go to” guy on offense. Cement's new quarterback played for Seid in Ohio.
Anthony Muse's mother accepted a nurse's position in Chickasha, and the family moved from Ohio to Cement. Muse was a running back at his Ohio high school.
“We don't have the horses up front to play smash mouth,” Seid said. “We are going to try and spread the field and take advantage of our athleticism as best we can.”
CLOUD RESUMES WHAT HE STARTED
Corn Bible has a new head football coach, but he's a familiar face.
Curt Cloud started the football program at Corn Bible Academy, and he is taking over at the school where he also is the superintendent.
Corn Bible returns eight starters on both sides of the ball and is eyeing a return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
The club received a setback in May when senior quarterback Scott Vick broke his leg playing basketball. Vick's return by the season opener is questionable but he should be able to play soon afterward.
Running back Andrew Troyer is considered one of the best players in the state, and Cloud is optimistic entering this season.
“We've got potential,” he said.
District C-2 coaches' poll
1. Tipton (10-2)
2. Ryan (6-5)
3. Temple (12-1)
4. Corn Bible (4-6)
5. Mountain View (3-6)
6. Duke (2-8)
7. Grandfield (2-8)
8. Cement (0-9)
9. Gracemont (0-7)
Note: Last year's records in parentheses