Adair is the pick to win its fourth consecutive District 2A-7 football title, and with good reason.
Warriors head coach Mark Lippe is excited about his team’s depth at wide receiver and running back.
“We run a four-wide-receiver set and we are two deep at every one of those receiving positions,” Lippe said. “We have two or three running backs that can do the job.”
Most of Adair’s talent is sophomores and juniors. Tight end James Eastin, who caught five touchdown passes last year, is one of five seniors on the team.
“We are going to run a lot of kids in there and play a lot of kids,” Lippe said. “The depth at our skill positions really is a strength for us.”
Quarterback B.J. Bradbury, who threw for more than 2,300 yards and 35 touchdowns last season as a freshman, is one of six returning starters on offense.
“He does have a live arm,” Lippe said. “He is kind of the key to our passing game, but he has some guys to throw to. He has multiple targets on the field at all times.”
Adair returns seven starters on defense from a club that lost a 28-27 decision in the Class 2A quarterfinals to eventual state champion Davis. Adair has been ousted from the playoffs the last two seasons by Davis.
The only question mark for Adair this season is in the offensive line, where senior center Levi Hudson (6-0, 230) pounds is the only returning starter.
COLCORD EXPECTS TO CHALLENGE FOR CROWN
With 19 starters returning from last season’s club, which finished third in the district, Colcord expects to challenge Adair for the title this year.
It’s the most experienced team Terrell Denny has seen in his five years coaching at the school, including the last three as head coach.
“Last year we didn’t know what we had,” Denny said of Caleb Shawver, who took over as quarterback. “He has great instincts. He is one of those old-school guys who love football.”
Shawver has worked hard in the off-season and returns with a stronger arm and quicker release, he said.
“We expect him to have a really good season,” Denny said.
Running back Brandon Harper is a three-year starter, state power-lifting champion and state runner-up in the 100 meters.
Last season, Harper rushed for 1,097 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on just 90 carries.
“We would like to get it into his hands a little bit more with his size and speed,” Denny said. “He was dinged up last season a couple of different times.”
Depth in the offensive line is a concern, but Colcord should field its best team since it reached the state semifinals four years ago.
Colcord’s last district title came in 2005, and Denny thinks year’s club could break the drought.
“We are very excited,” he said. “We feel like we can contend. Adair has obviously been really good the last few years. They are going to tough as well as a couple of others. We feel like we have a shot anyway.”
NEW COACH HOPES TO BRING NEW LIFE TO HULBERT
Rusty Harris came to Hulbert to be a principal but also found himself as the new head football coach.
Harris, who has been out of coaching and in school administration the past three years, decided upon arriving in Hulbert that he could handle both jobs.
Harris has been a coach for 28 years, with his last coaching stop at Muskogee as offensive coordinator three years ago.
Harris is taking over a program that is coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons. He’s installing new schemes on both sides of the ball.
“It will be significantly different than they (Hulbert) have ever done,” Harris said.
Harris will run the pistol formation on offense and has moved fullback Dylan Harris (5-11, 230 pounds) to quarterback.
“He’s what we want at quarterback, a big, physical presence who can pull it down and run it,” Harris said.
Senior Jonathan Hambey, a slot receiver last season, is moving to tailback. Last year’s starting quarterback, Justin Owens, is switching to slot receiver.
Senior linebacker Bryson McGowan (6-2, 245 pounds) spearheads the defense.
“We have enough athletes to compete if we don’t regress to old ways,” Harris said.
Adair’s only losses last season were to the two teams who played for the Class 2A state championship, Davis and Millwood. ... Steve Patterson, who has spent 14 years on staffs at the University of Central Oklahoma, Northeastern Oklahoma State University and NEO, takes over as head coach at Kansas. ... Salina wants to control the clock in the run game and use its size to try and wear down opponents.
DISTRICT 2A-7 COACHES’ POLL
1. Adair (11-2)
2. Colcord (7-4)
3. Salina (9-3)
4. Kansas (6-5)
5. Haskell (5-6)
6. Chouteau (4-6)
7. Hulbert (1-9)
*Note: Last year’s record in parentheses