With 17 of 22 spots filled by returning starters, hopes are high once again in Shawnee.
Coach Billy Brown returns all but two offensive starters, and has an experienced backfield to work with.
Quarterback John Jacobs threw for 1,510 yards and rushed for another 745 as a sophomore last season, and Dillon Dutton returns primed for a breakout season at running back.
Riley Greenlee anchors the offensive line and Kendall Gilbert, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, has begun to draw some Division I recruiting interest at receiver.
The defense will rely on senior linebacker Gage Humphreys, who has 174 tackles for his career
BRIGGS BACK TO LEAD CHOCTAW DEFENSE
New coach Todd Dilbeck brought in veteran coach Mark Ryan to coordinate his defense, and Ryan will have a solid linebacker to build around in the middle.
Senior Derrick Briggs will be in his third year as a starting linebacker and logged 113 tackles, with 11 for loss, last season.
The offense, which will be orchestrated by Dilbeck and coordinator Ty Prestidge, has more experience to work with.
Nine starters return, including junior quarterback Jonah Llanusa and running back Kenny Tisdale.
MCLOUD'S WOODS LEADS EXPERIENCED OFFENSE
McLoud quarterback Joseph Woods, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior, has a chance to surprise a lot of people this season with his talent and versatility.
But a big reason for his success will come in the experience around him.
Coach Eric Cardin and the Redskins return nine offensive starters, including a couple of big linemen, Brian Heath and Aaron Smith.
The team's top returning wideout, senior Will Olds, is heading into his fourth year as a starter as well. The defense will rely heavily on linebacker Hunter Heath, who had 105 tackles last year.
STAR SPENCER BUILDING AROUND YOUNG LINE
Star Spencer coach James Harding's offense will be counting on a pair of offensive linemen who he asked to start as freshmen last year.
Sophomores Ramon Jenkins, 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, and Byron Williams, 6-foot, 235 pounds, return to open holes for the run game of Jerome Smith and Milon Smith.
STEPHENS WILL DO IT ALL AT HARRAH
New Harrah coach Phil Webb jokes that senior Dak Stephens might even pop popcorn at halftime this season.
Stephens, a running back and defensive back, provides a veteran presence for the Panthers.
“Just talented,” Webb said. “He knows the game. He's one of those kids you don't have to tell more than once what to do. He's a coach's dream. He just knows the game and is talented.”
Harrah went 1-9 last season, losing five games by six or less points.
Stephens, though, believes the coaching change has been exactly what was needed and this year is a chance to improve.
“It's pretty frustrating, but we've got this year to show what we can really do as seniors,” Stephens said. “So I think it's going to be good for us.”
EXPECTATIONS HIGH AT MEEKER
After reeling off five straight wins late last season, there's a high level of excitement around this football season at Meeker.
The Bulldogs' late-season surge allowed them to finish 7-5 and advance to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“We had our intrasquad scrimmage and I bet we had 150 people there,” said coach Mike Hedge. “Usually, we've got 10 or 15 people out there. I think that shows the expectations are there. Our kids feel like they can go even further this year. They definitely think they can win a little bit.”
Meeker returns starting quarterback Jake Stanley. The dual-threat sophomore had over 2,000 all-purpose yards as a freshman last season.
“I think people are going to be more prepared for him than they were last year,” Hedge said. “He won't be a surprise anymore. We'll find out how good of a player he is, but I have a lot of confidence in him.”
The Bulldogs, who return 10 starters, are aiming to host a playoff game for only the second time since the football program began in 1978.
After winning the final four games of the regular season to earn a playoff berth, Tecumseh was hit hard by graduation.
Coach Greg George has a couple of returning players to rely on, but otherwise will be very young.
Dakota Paxson returns on the offensive and defensive lines, and Jacob Smiley is back at receiver. The special teams unit also returns a pair of key players, with kicker Jennifer Goethe and deep snapper Easton Marrs.
CHA ADDING ‘PUNCH' TO OFFENSE
Christian Heritage quarterback Colton Lindsey had a strong junior season, throwing for 1,800 yards and rushing for 770.
This season, though, he expects more, and changes to the Crusaders' offense should help that.
“We tweaked it up here and there to give it a little more punch,” Lindsey said. “We'll give the defenses something to think about.”
Lindsey has been pleased with what he's seen from the offense and notes that it should be pretty balanced.
And with 10 returning starters on each side of the ball, CHA is looking for bigger things after a 5-6 campaign in 2012.
“We just keep doing what we're doing,” Lindsey said. “We're confident in our coaches and our coaching staff; they know what they're doing so we just keep trusting them and keep working every day and keep doing what we're doing.”
CROOKED OAK BUILDING ON PLAYOFF RUN
A strong finish earned Crooked Oak a playoff bid last season, and now the Ruf-Nex return eight players on each side of the ball.
Among them are running back DeAntray Hawkins, a fourth-year starter who is picking up Division II recruiting interest, and quarterback Shauntrell Skanes.
Skanes, a senior, is a dual-threat player who rushed for over 700 yards and threw for 929 last year.
DAVENPORT'S REED TAKING OVER AT QB
Davenport sophomore Hunter Reed missed last season with a knee injury, but he's ready to take over at quarterback this season.
“It hasn't been too hard of a transition,” he said.
Reed replaces longtime standout Matt Miller under center.
The Bulldogs are also replacing running back Kevin Thomas, and coach John Greenfield said it's a battle between senior Trinity Tippy, sophomore Dom West and Carney move-in Trevor Miller.
“We lost a lot of talent, but we've got most of our line back and they'll help us quite a bit,” Hunter said. “We're going to be pretty tough to beat.”
LUTHER'S RUNNING BACK RETURNS AS QB
During his sophomore season, Luther running back Seth Stivers suffered a shoulder injury but played the rest of the year.
It forced him to sit out his entire junior season.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Stivers is back for the Lions as their quarterback and outside linebacker.
“He runs well,” Luther coach Shawn Meek said. “Most teams don't have to account for the quarterback, but they're going to have to with him.”
* Bethel is breaking in a new coach for the third straight year, this time handing the reigns to former Midwest City assistant Jason Madonna, who has learned under some well-respected head coaches. He played under Carl Albert's Gary Rose and coached for both Steve Huff and Darrell Hall at Midwest City.
* Wellston returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense — including junior running back/linebacker Christopher Murphy, who is expected to play a major role on both sides of the ball.
*Destiny Christian is looking to rebuild its offensive line after winning the Oklahoma Christian Schools Athletic Association's 3A title in front of senior running back Boston Mims, who rushed for six TDs in the title game last season.