Poteau’s run to the Class 4A state championship football game last season was led by quarterback Jace Pitchford.
He accounted for nearly 2,700 yards of offense and 35 touchdowns while guiding the Pirates to a runner-up finish as a senior.
This year, the Pirates will use a combined effort to fill his void as the District 4A-4 favorites aim to make another championship run.
“We’re not necessarily going to have what you would call a true two-QB system, but we’ll do a couple different things there,” said Poteau coach Greg Werner. “Ben Klutts is going to start for us. He’s not quite the runner we had in Jace last year, but he’s a heck of a passer. We’ll also have Austin Archey running some wildcat for us.”
The Pirates will likely lean on returning back Roger Barcheers to ease into their passing game this season. The junior is approaching 3,000 yards for his career after rushing for 1,497 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Poteau also returns a strong defense led by Archey at linebacker. He led the team with 143 tackles a year ago.
“After last year, our kids expect to do well,” Werner said. “We may have snuck up on some people then, but we’ve got the target on us now and that’s a good thing.”
METRO CHRISTIAN BRINGING OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER TO 4A
Metro Christian is moving into Class 4A after having won five straight district titles in 3A.
If the Patriots are going to make it six consecutive titles, they’ll need continued production from their talented passing attack.
A strong season is expected from junior quarterback Abe Anderson (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), who passed for 1,436 yards and 23 touchdowns to just three interceptions last season.
The Patriots also return top receiver Jake Koenig. The junior scored 10 touchdowns while setting team highs with 48 receptions for 975 yards a year ago.
COBBLE BEGINS NEW ERA AT STILWELL
J.T. Cobble enters his first season at Stilwell with a team picked seventh in the coaches’ preseason poll.
However, Cobble’s team could be a sleeper in a deep district. The Indians have nine returning starters on offense including junior QB Jaron Vaughn, who is primed for a breakout season.
J.T. is the son of longtime Oklahoma high school coach Tom Cobble, who is in the OCA Hall of Fame and recently retired after 40 years as a head coach at six different schools. J.T. played under his father at Weatherford, winning a state title together in 1999.
Sallisaw will also have a new coach this season with Scott Bethel taking over the program.
Bethel inherits a squad with strong offensive and defensive lines, and highly regarded quarterback Quint Scoufos. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior passed for 1,165 yards and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions last season.
FORT GIBSON TO RELY ON EXPERIENCE
Fort Gibson coach James Singleton is in his fourth season leading the Tigers.
The same goes for a talented group of seniors, led by JR Singleton (QB/S) and Tristan Johnson (LB/RB). The pair is two of eight starters returning on offense and seven on defense.
The continuity and experience is something James Singleton hopes will help thrust the Tigers into state championship contention.
Broken Bow had its string of seven consecutive playoff appearances snapped after going 1-9 in 2013. The Savages’ running game, led by four returning offensive linemen and senior RB Jaylon Watson, will be the key to a postseason return. ...Tulsa Central has a major hole to fill with the graduation of QB D’Angelo Brewer, who is now a running back at Tulsa. Brewer accounted for most of the Braves’ offense last season with 1,925 all-purpose yards.
District 4A-4 coaches’ poll
1. Poteau (12-2)
2. Fort Gibson (6-5)
3. Metro Christian (11-1)
4. Sallisaw (8-3)
5. Broken Bow (1-9)
6. Tulsa Central (3-7)
7. Stilwell (4-6)
8. Muldrow (2-8)
*Last year’s record is in parenthesis