District A-1 preview: Fairview is the pick in District A-1
Fairview is the favorite among coaches in District A-1 as the Yellowjackets return eight starters on both sides of the ball from last year's 6-5 squad.
They return more starters than anyone else in the district, but Fairview coach Robert Bernard said being the pre-season pick as the champ doesn't mean much.
“I would agree we have the most experience and the potential to be there, but all those guys (in the district) are going to be pretty good,” Bernard said. “But they have lost more than we have, so that helps.”
Fairview finished 6-5 last season and returns sophomore quarterback Kade Dillard, who took over as the signal caller in the second game last year due to an injury to the starter.
Dillard never gave up the job and threw for 1,818 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
“He can really, really throw the ball well,” said Hooker coach Bill Patterson.
Bernard expects Dillard to be even better with a year of experience under his belt.
“He's made the biggest jump in decision making,” Bernard said. “I think he just understands what we are trying to do better… He is very mentally tough. There is not a lot you can throw at him that can rattle him.”
Dillard also has playmakers around him in running back Nick Berlingeri, who also starts at linebacker.
Dillard has a bevy of receivers to throw to, led by slot receiver Tommy French and wideout Logan Quiring, both seniors, along with sophomore Chad McGolden.
Up front, Fairview returns four starters on the line, including three seniors.
Even though Fairview is experienced, the Yellowjackets also are young with a talented sophomore class.
“Our sophomore class is huge and a very athletic group,” Bernard said. “We have some depth.”
Fairview won a state championship in 1999, but it has been even longer since the Yellowjackets won a district title, Bernard said.
Fairview hopes to end that streak in 2016.
BULLDOGS WANT TO EXTEND PLAYOFF RUN
Hooker returns seven starters on both sides of the ball from last season's 8-4 club.
The Bulldogs are led by versatile tight end and cornerback Hutton Parsons, who can play multiple positions. Hooker coach Bill Patterson has used Parsons in the offensive line, at linebacker, in the secondary and at wide receiver.
“We will move him around on both sides of the ball,” Patterson said.
The Bulldogs return four starters in the offensive line.
“We are going to rely on them, especially early, Patterson said.
Hooker won only its third playoff game in school history last year by defeating Carnegie in the opening round before losing to eventual state champion Stratford the next week.
Patterson said the Bulldogs are optimistic heading into this season after last year's success. They are looking to make school history by advancing past the second round of the playoffs. Patterson said the goal is not out of reach with a little luck.
“We worked very, very hard in the off-season,” Patterson said. “You've got to stay healthy and the ball has got to bounce your way. In our district there is never a night off.”
BEARCATS PLAN TO USE TWO QUARTERBACKS
Mooreland returns five starters on both offense and defense from a squad that went 12-1. The Bearcats only loss of the season was to Hominy in the quarter-finals of the state playoffs.
Mooreland lost 13 seniors and will rebuild around two new quarterbacks: sophomore quarterback Kaden Hensley, whose brother, Tyler, was three-year starter at quarterback, and senior Brogan Sears who also plays wide receiver.
Bearcats' coach Frank Howard said he plans to use both quarterbacks, at least in the beginning of the season.
“Kaden has got the speed and Brogan has got the arm, so we are trying to use both to our advantage,” Howard said.
Senior running back Rowdy Mars returns after rushing for 498 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
“We are expecting big things out of him,” Howard said. “A lot of our skills guys are back, but our offensive line is really where we are struggling to replace guys. We lost three starters there.”
On defense, senior Dakota Copenhaver leads a strong linebacking crew with sophomore Jared Schnoehelen and senior Denton Mars.
Howard said the district is extremely competitive
“It is pretty even outside of Fairview,” he said. “I think they got the best chance. They got the most veterans back anyway. Everybody else is right there together, top to bottom.”
Thomas will be counting on senior wide receiver and defensive back Blake Moore along with junior running back Nick Roof, who recorded 55 tackles at linebacker last season.
Triggering the offense will be junior quarterback Trabor Mannering, who had 30 tackles and four interceptions playing defense last season. Thomas finished 9-3 last season.
“We have a number of players that will be learning new positions,” Terriers' coach Bob Ward said. “How quickly we adjust to our new roles will be the key …”
First-year head coach Jerod Cline takes over as Beaver's new boss and will have a core of three-year starters back from last season's 4-6 squad.
Preston Yates anchors the offensive and defensive lines while Thomas Konkel and Kylian Redemer are both three-year starters at running back and linebacker.
DISTRICT A-1 COACHES POLL
1. Fairview (6-5)
2. Thomas (9-3)
3. Mooreland (12-1)
4. Hooker (8-4)
5. Texhoma (4-6)
6. Beaver (4-6)
7. Okeene (1-9)
Note: Last year’s records in parentheses