During last season’s undefeated Class 5A title run, Guthrie was second in the class with 273.2 rushing yards per game behind a strong offensive line.
Now the Bluejays enter this football season with just one returning starter in Conan Maltz and are looking to quickly gain some experience.
“We’ve got some kids that fit the mold,” first-year coach Kelly Beeby said. “They just haven’t played in the big games, and they work really hard in the weight room. We expect them to grow as the season progresses.”
And as the offensive line grows, so will the Bluejays as they rely on returning skill players such as Idae Alexander and L’liott Curry.
Still, the question mark about the offensive line left opposing coaches in District 5A-2 nearly split on how Guthrie would finish in the standings. In the six polls outside of its own, Guthrie was picked first three times and second three times.
DICKERSON LEADING QB BATTLE AT CARL ALBERT
Longtime Carl Albert coach Gary Rose has liked what he’s seen from junior Braxton Dickerson.
So much so that Dickerson is the frontrunner to be named the starting quarterback.
Dickerson will replace Stevie Thompson, who led the Titans to the 2012 state championship and last season accounted for 29 total touchdowns.
“We’re going to always be able to run the football, and we’re going to throw it if we have the guy and the receivers,” Rose said. “Braxton has the potential to do both.
“He’s not the runner that Stevie was. He could be eventually if he really works on that aspect, just because of his physical stature.”
LANDON LEADING DEER CREEK DEFENSE
Deer Creek coach Grant Gower said junior linebacker Blake Landon has only begun to tap into his potential.
“I think when it’s all said and done, he’ll have another really good year,” Gower said about his 6-foot-2, 205-pound leading tackler. “Really, the sky’s the limit.”
Landon recorded 174 tackles and six sacks along with grabbing at interception last season as a sophomore. He is also beginning to receive interest from multiple Big 12 schools.
“He’s the kind of guy you like to rally around as a team,” Gower said.
PIEDMONT BUMPS UP, BRINGS DISTRICT RIVALRY
With Piedmont coming up from Class 4A, the annual rivalry game against Deer Creek now has even more meaning.
As a result, it will be played in Week 4 to open district play.
“Being a district game and being the first district game, that takes on a whole new meaning as well,” Gower said. “That one’s always a tough one for us. They’ll be in the mix when it’s all said and done.”
Deer Creek won last season’s matchup 35-3 in the opening week of the season and has not lost to the Wildcats since 2006.
WESTERN HEIGHTS RELYING ON VETERAN PLAYERS
First-year Western Heights coach Justin Mayhew said the strength of the team will be its 19 returning starters.
And that starts with players such as running back/linebacker Gerard Giles and receiver/defensive end Rudy Thompson.
Giles rushed for 802 yards and seven touchdowns last season, while also gathering 74 tackles and Thompson and 81 tackles and 10 sacks last season.
The Jets went 1-9 last season, but the prospects are higher this season as coaches voted them to finish sixth in the district.
SOUTHEAST’S DOZIER HEALTHY
Southeast coach Chris Vandersypen admits last year’s offense was, well, boring.
That should change this season with senior Markel Dozier returning at quarterback after missing last season with an ACL injury.
“Last year, we had to basically play two freshmen,” Vandersypen said. “So our offense was bland and stagnant because of limitations. (Dozier) is going to give us freedom to be more diverse.”
Southeast went 2-8 last season but moves into the district for the first time this season.
District 5A-2 coaches’ poll
1. Carl Albert (9-3)
2. Guthrie (14-0)
3. Deer Creek (6-5)
4. McGuinness (7-5)
5. Piedmont (4-6)
6. Western Heights (1-9)
7. Southeast (2-8)
8. Guymon (0-10)
*Last year’s record in parentheses