McGuinness coach Justin Jones wants his team to fly under the radar.
And that’s exactly what’s happening with the Irish entering the season after graduating 10 starters on offense and a portion of its defense from last year’s Class 5A quarterfinals team.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t talent returning.
“Offensively we return one starter from last year. It’s a cause for concern for a lot of people,” Jones said. “I think it plays into what we like around here. I think it creates a different mentality, more of an underdog perspective.”
The lone returning offensive player for McGuinness is senior running back Braden Roy, who rushed for 530 yards and two touchdowns last season.
He looks to provide some stability as the Irish search for a replacement for quarterback Jacob Lewis, who was The Oklahoman’s Big All-City Offensive Player of the Year last season after accounting for 48 touchdowns.
“I think that No. 1, we want to keep the spread identity,” Jones said. “We’re going to run when we need to but we certainly want to have the ability to throw the ball and be more efficient in the quick game and the intermediate game than what we were last year.”
Jones said the quarterback competition is between senior Jennings Jarman, who played linebacker last season, and junior Jacob Mullins.
He also said it’s likely both could play in the Irish’s season opener against Class 5A’s top-ranked team Shawnee.
Yet as much as McGuinness hopes to remain balanced, there will be an entirely new offensive line. Gone is the Million Dollar Line, which was comprised of five big seniors and had all senior reserves.
“We’re not going to trot those 6-4, 6-5 kids out there that weigh 280 pounds,” Jones said. “We’re going to trot a bunch of dudes that are 5-10, 5-11 and weigh a buck-95 to 220 pounds. With that said, we’ve planned for that.”
They’ve also planned on being the underdog, even with district foes like Carl Albert, Guthrie and Deer Creek replacing just as many parts.
“I want to be the no-names.,” Jones said. “We don’t care about the accolades or the hype. We’re not going to buy into it and feed it; we’re just going to go play football every week and let it sort it out.”