CHA excited about Lindsey, Blair
Christian Heritage returns a strong group of skill position players on the offensive side, led by junior quarterback Colton Lindsey.
Lindsey threw for around 1,500 yards as a sophomore.
“If you've got a quarterback, in this day and age, that can throw the ball, you're going to be in pretty good shape,” Crusaders coach John Merrell said. “He's got all of the tools that you want. He has an extremely quick release, a strong arm and he's accurate. You don't see that kind of package very often.”
One of Lindsey's primary targets will be senior tight end Jacob Blair.
The 6-foot-7 Blair figures to be a tough matchup for opposing defenses.
“A ball never hits his body when he's catching passes,” Merrill said. “He's got great hands and they're monster hands. They're twice the size of mine.”
Tecumseh hoping to avoid injuries
Last year, Tecumseh's luck with injuries could hardly have been worse.
After just two games, nine starters were out with various injuries.
The Savages came within a win of making the playoffs last year and Tecumseh coach Greg George thinks his team has a chance to make a run to the postseason this year in a tough district.
“The good part about it is we had guys get experience last year that they might not have gotten otherwise,” George said.
Defensively, George said his team would have to avoid big plays and make teams work for their points with a defense that is undersized.
“We've only got one really big kid,” George said. “We've got to try to use our athletic ability, move the fronts around a lot and be more of an opportunistic defense than we were last year.”
District gets tough for Little Axe
Little Axe coach Ted Dorrell thinks the Indians will be better this season, but being in a new district will make improving on last year's 5-5 record a tough chore.
“We have moved west with Tuttle and Blanchard and Jones and Bridge Creek,” Dorrell said. “It's a very tough district. We are going to have to mature up front. Staying healthy is a huge key for us. We don't have a lot of depth. We are one of the smaller schools in 3A.”
Little Axe is moving is starting running back from last season, Jeremy Smith, to quarterback.
“We decided that was the best move for us, to get the ball in his hands,” Dorrell said.
Meeker going to RB by committee
Meeker is looking to make it back to the playoffs this season after losing in the first round to Vian last year.
“We are young,” Meeker coach Mike Hedge said. “Even though we don't have a lot of returning starters, we've got kids that have played significantly.”
Meeker only has four returning starters, but does have depth, especially at running back.
“We run the ball by committee,” Hedge said.
The key for Meeker will be the development of a young offensive line.
“They better play older than they are,” Hedge said.
Bethel's Dutton has experience
New Bethel coach Mark Morgan has several offensive starters to work with as he takes over the Wildcat program, and one of the most valuable will be running back Dillion Dutton.
Only a junior, Dutton has been playing a key role for Bethel since his freshman year, when he showed his big-play ability.
The Wildcats won the first three games last season, but finished 4-6.
Morgan, a highly regarded assistant coach previously on the Midwest City staff, was hired in early August, so he hasn't had a lot of time to install his schemes. For that reason, an experienced back like Dutton becomes more important.
Luther's Northerton a dynamic option
With a new quarterback running the offense, a versatile, dynamic player in the backfield can help the transition along. That's where Steven Northerton's value lies for Luther this season.
As Austin Weathers gets comfortable behind center, first-year coach Shawn Meek will try to get the ball to Northerton regularly.
“He's gonna have to touch the ball for us quite a bit,” Meek said. “He does a lot of things for us. We'll use him in the return game. We'll get him the ball in multiple positions, out of the backfield or in the slot. He's a guy we trust.”
Centennial looking to take next step
With new coach Don Willis returning to Oklahoma City after spending eight years in Texas, Centennial has its eyes on a turnaround.
Centennial has struggled to build its football program since 2007, when the school opened. But success in other sports, including back-to-back state titles in boys basketball, lead Willis to believe the school can succeed in football, too.
“When I first got the job, people kept telling me, ‘Coach, you've got a lot of talent there. You've just to get them out of the halls,'” Willis said. “The kids who are out are buying in and doing a good job, but we don't have the numbers yet.”
Willis will focus on utilizing the team's speed, with gifted athletes like Trevon Threatt, Malcolm Mitchell, Terrance Barnes and Terry Davis in a variety of roles.
BY RYAN ABER, ED GODFREY
AND SCOTT WRIGHT