Anadarko football coach Kent Jackson still insists he didn’t think last year’s team would advance past the first round of the playoffs before the season started.
This season was supposed to be the year for another title run.
Instead, the Warriors won their second title in three years and now enter this season as heavy favorites once again in both District 4A-1 and in the class.
“I worry about the expectations probably more than they do,” Jackson said. “They want to win and they enjoy this just like the coaches do, just like the fans do and I think they’re going to do everything they can to make sure we keep doing what we’re doing.”
The Warriors, who went undefeated last season, return seven starters on each side of the ball, including hard-hitting linebacker Tramayne Wauahdooah.
But there are still some questions Jackson is hoping to have answered once the season starts at free safety and middle linebacker.
He said Brayden Alexander will take over at safety. Jackson also said he’s been impressed with John Smith at middle linebacker after spending the past three years on the scout team.
“This spring he was tremendous,” Jackson said. “He was one of our better players for a guy who hasn’t even played on the varsity side.”
NEWCASTLE HOPING EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF IN JUMP TO 4A
After making the Class 3A playoffs last season, Newcastle is hoping 17 returning starters helps adjust to Class 4A and one of its toughest districts.
Returning quarterback Casey Freeman will also help.
A three-year starter, he threw for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He’s shown improvement during summer 7-on-7 tournaments, even leading Newcastle to the NFL national tournament.
Newcastle also returns senior running back Zach Bergt, who rushed for 1,006 yards last season.
SIMPKINS HOPING TO REMAIN HEALTHY
Last year, Clinton learned the value of depth when multiple injuries struck the team, including star running back Marquiz Simpkins.
Now, the goal is to remain healthy this season and make another title run under new coach Philip Koons.
Simpkins’ health will likely be the key factor.
He rushed for 1,399 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, missing only one game but practicing very little due to an ankle injury.
Backing him up will be the trio of Wyatt Eaton, Chris Brooks and Deonte Barker. They combined for 327 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Elgin senior Brett Lorah is moving from wide receiver to quarterback, replacing the graduated Jonathan Christensen. Lorah totaled 562 yards receiving last season.... Weatherford three-sport star Jacob Hoffman is receiving interest from Air Force, Army and Tulsa. The running back/linebacker is a three-year starter for the Eagles.
District 4A-1 coaches’ poll
1. Anadarko (14-0)
2. Clinton (8-4)
3. Newcastle (8-4)
4. Woodward (8-4)
5. Weatherford (4-5)
6. Elgin (5-6)
7. Elk City (1-9)
8. Cache (3-7)
*Last year’s record in parentheses