The Vian Wolverines are predicted to win another district football title, and for good reason.
The three-time defending 2A-6 district champs return 10 offensive starters and nine defensive starters from a team that went undefeated and outscored its opponents 401-78 during last year’s regular season. Vian fell short in the playoffs, though, falling to Davis in the semifinals.
Vian returns dual-threat quarterback Rylee Simon, who totaled 2,954 yards and 31 touchdowns last year. He has offers from UTEP and Air Force. The Wolverines also have senior running back Eric Casey, who ran for 1,992 yards and 35 touchdowns during his junior season.
The expectation to win does not provide extra pressure for the Wolverines. Vian playing championship-style football is expected.
“Our kids expect to go out and compete for a district championship every year,” coach Brandon Tyler said. “Ultimately we want to win that gold ball. It’s kind of eluded us. Our kids are hungry and ready to go.”
POCOLA HAS PLAYOFFS ON ITS MIND
A new attitude has been spreading throughout the Indians’ practices.
Last year, making the playoffs was not a conversation Pocola players were having. This year, that’s changed, coach Rick Lang said.
“The kids are talking about playoffs now,” he said. “We didn’t talk much about it last year. It was out there, it was mentioned, but this year it’s like we hear it every practice.
“You hear that word ‘playoffs’ a lot around here this year, and that’s good.”
PANAMA’S RECENT SUCCESS FACES A NUMBERS PROBLEM
Two years ago, the Razorbacks snuck into the playoffs with a 4-6 record, including a 3-3 record in district play. Last year, they improved, finishing the regular season with a 4-2 district record and 7-3 overall.
Continuing Panama’s rise will be difficult in 2014, though. Coach Brandon Ellis’ team consists of 23 players.
“We’re really thin,” Ellis said. “We’re going to have to stay injury free if we need to be successful.”
Of Panama’s 23 players, five are returning offensive starters and seven are returning defensive starters.
HARTSHORNE COACH’S RESPONSIBILITIES HAVEN’T CHANGED
The Sept. 5 season opener against Holdenville will be Justin James’ 12th year on Hartshorne’s coaching staff, but it will mark his first season as head coach.
He spent the last seven seasons as the Miners’ offensive coordinator, and the switch to head coach has its changes in an administrative sense, but his coaching responsibilities remain the same.
“There’s more delegating, more responsibility,” James said. “But as far as my coaching responsibility, I’m still doing the offense.”
Liberty comes to 2A-6 from A-8 and returns a healthy team, including three starting offensive linemen in Ethan Gann, Brett Ragsdill and Lucas Cypert; two experienced fullbacks in John Michael Redmer and Carter Alwardt; transfer Weston Pardue; and returner Austin Miller at running back with a converted fullback at quarterback in Cody Herndon to run the pistol-flex offense. … Panama turns to sophomore Tristan Thompson as its starting quarterback. Ellis said Thompson has looked good during two-a-days and will find success with his legs and finding open receivers on short routes. … Hartshorne running back LaMarcus Morris added 10-15 pounds during the offseason, James said. Along with the personal improvements, Morris will have the benefit of running behind an offensive line featuring four seniors and a junior.
District 2A-6 Coaches’ Poll
1. Vian (13-1)
2. Hartshorne (11-3)
3. Panama (7-4)
4. Pocola (3-7)
5. Antlers (4-6)
6. Wilburton (0-10)
7. Liberty (1-9)
*Last year’s record in parentheses