Nowata coach Matt Hagebusch said a veteran group will be the reason why his club will be successful in 2014.
Hagebusch said his team knows it is only guaranteed 10 games like everybody else, but the team is focused on making it further than the second round of the playoffs, where it has been eliminated the past two seasons. Hagebusch said senior quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald is the key.
“He’s got 34 starts already,” Hagebusch said. “He is very mature as far as pocket presence. And he is without question, an extension of me on the field. He knows exactly what needs to be done. We will lean on his experience.”
Steigerwald threw for 26 touchdowns and more than 1,800 yards as a junior.
Nowata returns nine on offense, including a stable of running backs that combined for more than 1,300 yards last year.
One of those is senior running back Cory Hobbs, who looks to improve on a 1,100-yard season. He added 20 touchdowns.
COMMERCE TRYING TO FILL IN FOR BIG LOSS
Commerce coach Steve Moss lost 21 seniors from a 2013 squad that finished 11-1. Moss said three more kids moved away, too.
“We’re still trying to feel this team out,” Moss said.
A big factor in Commerce’s success will be the health of Trenton Barr. The junior running back has more than 800 yards last season before injuring his hip. Barr has been hurt in each year of high school, so staying healthy will be a big factor.
Moss said despite losing so many veterans, he still has a big senior class.
“A lot of years, these kids could have started,” Moss said. “So they’re chomping at the bit to play.”
Moss also said his defense will be a strong point led by senior defensive tackle Jowa Zamarripa. After 79 tackles as a junior, Moss said Zamarripa causes problems for offenses up front.
PAWHUSKA ANXIOUS TO SEE OPPONENT
Pawhuska coach Bob Craig said the Huskies sometimes don’t have enough players to go through full scrimmages.
“Numbers are very important,” Craig said. “We like who we have and we like our 11, but we’re searching for numbers 12, 13 and 14. It’s hard to do that when you can’t scrimmage.”
Pawhuska does boast a veteran offensive line, which will be helpful for a young group of skill players. Defensively, Marshall Tolson leads Pawhuska. The senior linebacker had eight sacks last season.
WYANDOTTE IS SENIOR HEAVY
Wyandotte has 17 seniors on its roster this season, but it will be sophomore quarterback Gunner Hudson leading the way. A late-season injury resulted in Hudson taking over the starting job. Coach Brad Homer said it is Hudson’s job all the way.
Clayton Stone, who played quarterback before Hudson, will be a tailback this year. Stone had 900 yards in nine games last season, averaging more than eight yards per carry.
Homer said his offensive line has five returning starters.
“We’re asking them to set the tone,” Homer said.
Angel Torres, a senior right guard, is a four-year starter next to Sammy Quick. Homer said those two have played side-by-side since they were younger kids.
Chelsea returns seven on offense, including junior running backs Zack Eidschun and Dalton Bunch. They combined for more than 500 yards last season.
District 2A-8 Coaches’ Poll
1. Nowata (10-2)
2. Commerce (11-1)
3. Wyandotte (5-5)
4. Pawhuska (4-7)
5. Chelsea (3-8)
6. Caney Valley (2-8)
7. Oklahoma Union (3-7)
*Last year’s record in parentheses