GUTHRIE — When Guthrie's do-everything junior, Kai Callins, went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the Bluejays' season-opening win over Duncan, the team had plenty of holes to fill.
Callins played a crucial and versatile role in the offense, seeing time both wide and in the backfield; he was the Bluejays' lockdown corner; he returned punts and kicks.
There's little doubt Callins has been missed.
But the way the players who have filled each of those holes left by his injury have played has Guthrie thinking of back-to-back championships.
The No. 1 Bluejays are 7-0 headed into Thursday's home game against 5A No. 3 and also undefeated Deer Creek.
“There have been so many who have taken on those roles, and they've done an excellent job,” Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins said.
J.T. McFadden has become the Bluejays' top rushing threat outside of quarterback Bryan Dutton, and also has been a weapon in the passing game.
Donovan Jordan, already expected to see his role increase significantly, has been solid as a receiver.
Both also have been dangerous in the return game on special teams.
They also shifted around in the secondary to make room for perhaps the most surprising fill-in — sophomore Kelyn Hinds.
When Callins went down, McFadden moved to corner and Hinds slipped in to take over at safety.
“It's just his hustle and the way he plays,” Callins said. “He's fast and he's going 110 percent at every play.
“I think the secondary has done a really good job without me, especially not allowing a lot of yards after the catch.”
Hinds wasn't sure what to think when Callins went down.
“Oh, what are we going to do,” Hinds remembers thinking.
“I was nervous,” Hinds said. “I knew what I was supposed to do, but you never know until you get the chance.”
Hinds has taken advantage by leading the Bluejays in tackles with 61 so far.
Guthrie has allowed seven or fewer points in five of its seven games. The Bluejays have been equally potent on offense, topping 40 points five times.
“Kai is the coldest running back I've ever seen,” McFadden said. “The biggest motivation for me has just been trying to live up to that as much as I can. I don't have the footwork he does, but our offense is getting better and better.”
Jordan took the injury as an opportunity.
“I just said, ‘Coach, I'm here and I'm ready for the challenge,' ” Jordan said. “I felt like I was a leader on this team before, but felt like I needed to be more of one when that happened.”
All say Deer Creek will be the team's toughest challenge yet.
“It's going to be a big-time defensive game,” Jordan said. “They run a lot of the same stuff we do. We're really looking forward to it.”
Fans pick Casady's Wallace as Player of the Week
Casady sophomore quarterback T'Quan Wallace earned the fans' vote as the NewsOK Varsity High School Football Player of the Week in the Oklahoma City area with his 428-yard passing performance last week.
Wallace threw four touchdown passes and rallied Casady from a 34-14 halftime deficit for a 42-34 win over Dallas Cistercian.
Here are the final results of the fan poll:
T'Quan Wallace, Casady: 506 votes (42.9 pct.)
Warren Wand, Edmond Memorial: 419 votes (35.5 pct.)
Justice Hansen, Edmond Santa Fe: 109 votes (9.2 pct.)
A'erion Hines, Norman: 98 votes (8.3 pct.)
Peyton Gavras, Norman North: 49 votes (4.1 pct.)