EDMOND — The hopes of the West may reside in Edmond Santa Fe.
And it starts with elite recruit Justice Hansen at quarterback. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Oklahoma commitment has been quiet this offseason, instead focusing on helping the Wolves work to knock off the East's Jenks or Tulsa Union.
“Hansen's numbers are getting better by the year,” Edmond Santa Fe coach Lance Manning said. “He could care less about that, he just wants to have a better football team and improve.”
By all accounts, Santa Fe may be better than last season.
The Wolves are inexperienced at receiver and in the secondary, but the other positions return a plethora of talent.
None may be more skilled than running back with a possible four-man platoon. Manning said senior Cameron Westbrook has had a strong offseason alongside sophomore Darren Williams. Transfers Ke'Marrie Carter and Michael Farmer — ranked No. 13 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 and recovering from an ACL injury — could also add depth.
It's a group that could change the identity of the team.
“We believe in being able to throw the football,” Manning said. “We shoot to be balanced and we want people to fear us running just as much as throwing.”
That fear begins up front, and Manning said he has been impressed with how much the offensive line has improved. The Wolves return four starters — Chris Morgensen, Anthony Robinson, John Wynn and J.R. Hensley.
Santa Fe emphasized getting stronger up front this offseason, hoping to compete with Jenks and Union. That also carried over to the defensive line, where defensive end Michael Onwuchuruba added 20 pounds this offseason.
At linebacker, Austin Mack returns in the middle and Blake Ashcraft returns on the outside, possibly alongside Farmer.
But is all of the depth enough to do what nobody else has figured out how to do?
The Wolves are favored to win their third straight District 6A-4 title. Last season, they exited in the quarterfinals against Tulsa Union.
“I think that the important thing is, yeah, there are expectations and I think being here at this point you're going to have expectations to be good,” Manning said. “We like that and embrace that.”