TUTTLE — Spring football is a little different at Tuttle High School this year.
For the first time in seven seasons, the Tigers will not have one of coach Phil Koons' sons at quarterback.
Koons has directed a football version of “My Three Sons” the past seven seasons.
Sterling, Tanner and Cooper Koons have been Tuttle's starting quarterbacks the past seven years.
Sterling and Tanner are now playing at the University of Central Oklahoma, while last year's signal caller, Cooper, is joining the new football program at Oklahoma Baptist University.
“I am going to miss having a Koons boy pulling the trigger,” Phil Koons said.
For the past seven years, the head coach has not only had the ear of his quarterback on the field but also at home. He felt very comfortable with his sons running the offense.
“They knew what I would want called at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “They know the audibles, the secondary coverage.
“The kids have been in the system so long, you could kind of sit back and call plays and it ran like clockwork.”
Another Koons son is waiting for his chance at the job, but it's going to be a long wait. Julius is only a third-grader.
This spring, there is a quarterback battle at Tuttle. The starting quarterback position is unsettled, as are many positions for the Tigers on the defensive side of the ball.
The quarterback job will be won by one of three players: junior Taylor Newport, junior move-in Jett Jobe or last year's starting cornerback Deakon Mincey.
“We got a nice competition right now with three guys,” Koons said. “They definitely got shoes to fill. I don't know how big. We expect to win around here.”
If not the starting quarterback, Mincey will be in the backfield as a running back.
“The ball will be in his hands,” Koons said.
Mincey, who will be a senior next season, is one of several talented running backs who will return for Tuttle, including the team's leading rusher Jesse Gregory.
Morgan Neal, who was injured much of last season, also will be back at running back. Koons also expects contributions in the fall from sophomore running back Jason Biddy.
The plethora of running backs plus four starters returning in the offensive line are the strength of the team.
Senior tight end Nick Mills (6-4, 215 pounds) also will be a weapon on offense.
“He will probably get some Division I looks,” Koons said.
It is an important spring for the Tigers' defense where Koons only has two starters returning.
“Almost entirely new faces over there,” Koons said. “We have some good players. We don't have as much depth as we've had.”
Tuttle also is short-handed on coaches. Koons only has two assistant coaches on staff this spring. It's made it difficult to break into individual groups during practice.
“It's really hard to run technique,” Koons said. “That's how they learn to play football.”
Koons hopes the school district will hire at least one more assistant coach. Two parents have volunteered to help when they can, but the number of volunteer coaches is even fewer than in years past.
“Whenever we had Jason White we had six or seven lay coaches,” Koons said. “It looked like a pro staff.”
Koons just completed his 20th season at Tuttle, compiling a record of 197-46. The Tigers have only one losing season in his 20 years at the school and they have made the playoffs each year.
Tuttle was 10-2 last year and blasted eventual 3A state champion Blanchard, 56-34, in the final regular-season game. It was Blanchard's only loss of the season.
The Tigers had state championship aspirations but lost to Kingfisher, 35-14, in the second round of the playoffs. Blanchard defeated Kingfisher, 28-21, in the state championship game.
“We had a great season,” Koons said. “We just came up a little short. We thought we had the chance to be the top dog, but there were a couple of other teams out there that were just as good.”