GUTHRIE — Facing a crucial fourth-and-1 situation against Tulsa East Central in the Class 5A quarterfinals last season, Guthrie's offense failed to convert.
Guthrie went on to lose the game, ending a season that was successful even after losing star Kai Callins to a torn ACL.
The Bluejays enter this season with a new determination and a healthy Callins.
The key, though, will be the offensive line, which returns four starters after that disappointing finish.
“That was probably our weak link last year,” Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins said. “They know that and they don't hide it. We're not degrading them in any way, we're challenging them.
“We realize that we were in a fourth-and-1 situation at Tulsa East Central to win the ballgame and we didn't get it done. If we're in that position this year, we better be going to the semifinals instead of going home.”
It will help to have Callins back at running back. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior was deeply missed last season. If healthy, he is easily a game-changer for the Bluejays.
And the team has plenty of playmakers.
Senior receiver Donavan Jordan also returns, boasting what Watkins refers to as the best hands in the state.
Both will be huge assets for senior quarterback Reed Roberts, who is replacing graduated Bryan Dutton.
“As long as he has protection, he can throw the ball with anybody,” Watkins said. “He's got as good of arm as anybody in the state when it comes to just throwing the football.”
As much as Watkins is concerned with the offensive line, he has little concern about the defensive line. L'liott Curry returns after a strong sophomore campaign with 85 tackles and five sacks to anchor the group that returns each starter.
The linebacker corps returns all but one starter, and the secondary features Callins and Jordan on each side. The only missing link will be safety Kelyn Hinds, who could return from an ACL injury by the end of the season.
If he returns, he could help boost the Bluejays deep into the playoffs.