The overwhelming favorite in District 3A-1, Tuttle will enjoy the benefit of returning starters at 17 positions.
Among them, however, the Tigers don't have a lot of size, coach Phil Koons says. Instead, Tuttle will lean on its team speed, especially on defense, where Dawson Bassett anchors the unit at linebacker.
Bassett, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound younger brother of Oklahoma State's Cooper Bassett, is a Division I prospect who will also play wide receiver on offense.
Cooper Koons, Seth Odom and Jon Michael Hollarn bring quickness to the secondary.
Cooper Koons will lead the offense at quarterback as well, with Bassett, Odom and Jake Welch at receiver spots.
BILYEU BIG FOR LONGHORNS
With Jones breaking in new junior quarterback David Cornwell this season, Longhorns running back Taylor Bilyeu figures to be a big key, especially early as Cornwell gets settled in. Bilyeu ran for 556 yards and eight touchdowns last season while adding 386 yards and five touchdowns receiving.
“He's just been a real force running the ball for us so far,” Jones coach Dave Martin said. “That's going to give us some more comfort with David coming in and learning the system.
“Taylor's going to be a big cornerstone on both sides of the ball for us.”
Bilyeu was one of the top tacklers in the state in any class last season, with 183 stops for the Class 2A state runner-up.
BOBCATS TURNING TO CARLTON
With Bridge Creek losing Chris Golden and Judge Leiter, who combined to run for more than 1,400 yards last season, the Bobcats might have to open up their passing game a bit more this year. That's something Bridge Creek coach Jerry Wallis is fine with. Brandon Carlton figures to lead the way. He only had six catches last year but snagged a pair of touchdown passes and was also key to Bridge Creek's defense.
He's a playmaker once he gets the ball in his hands,” Wallis said. “He's got a chance to be a really good one for us.”
BLANCHARD YOUNG UP FRONT
With a strong group of skilled position players, Blanchard's success will depend on the ability of some young linemen to step into starting roles.
However, the offense is in good hands with quarterback Brock Lamle, who has a couple of good passing options in Zach Hill and Kyle Self. And running back Braden Stringer received valuable experience last year as well.
Hill anchors the defense. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior is a standout linebacker. D.J. Williams accounted for 100 tackles at linebacker last year as well.
MARLOW GETS A LIFT
Despite a one-win season a year ago at Marlow, opposing coaches have high expectations for the Outlaws under new coach Rob Renshaw.
Renshaw, who coached Bethany to the 2003 state title, will look to Wakely Bergner to quarterback his new offense. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound senior is a third-year starter.
Mount St. Mary coach Chris Stiles is excited heading into his second season. Though the team graduated some talented players, he feels the unit as a whole can be better. “These kids come to work. Our practice pace and focus are so much better. We're building a program at Mount St. Mary, and we're taking another step in year two,” Stiles said... Little Axe senior Jeremy Smith, 6-2, 205 pounds, has been a strong leader in the offseason, which should carry into the rest of the year. Smith will start at quarterback and also see time at linebacker on a defense that returns five starters.
By Scott Wright and Ryan Aber