District B-8 preview: Keota should continue to roar
Keota, which won 12 consecutive games last season before losing in the state championship game to Davenport, is the consensus choice to win District B-8 again this season.
“If someone is picking anybody else to win the district, it would be surprising to me,” Watts coach Matt Stilwell said of the Lions. ”They are physical and well coached.”
It was the first time that Keota had reached the state championship game. The Lions debut at No. 11 in The Oklahoman's pre-season state rankings.
WATTS EXPECTS TO IMPROVE IN NEW DISTRICT
Watts is moving into District B-8 this season and Stilwell thinks the Engineers will be more competitive in it.
“We lost the state champion and got the runner-up,” Stilwell said, referring to moving from a district with Davenport into one with Keota.
Stilwell said every pre-season poll he has read has the Engineers ranked at the bottom of the district.
“That's kind of motivated the kids,” he said. “They have been working hard and getting better every day.”
Stilwell is hoping for a big year from quarterback Clayton Mitchell, who is returning as the starter.
“He kind of got thrown to the wolves last year,” Stilwell said. “He's got more weapons surrounding him this year.”
Watts graduated just one senior from last season's squad and returns seven starters. The Engineers were also bolstered by a couple of move-ins from Kansas and Arkansas, Stilwell said.
“Our skill positions are pretty well set,” Stilwell said. “Our offensive line will decide how far we go. We are young there.”
ARKOMA WILL BE DIFFICULT TO DEFEND
Arkoma returns seven starters on both sides the ball.
“Our strength is definitely our skill guys,” Arkoma head coach Mark Weatherton said.
The Mustangs' Seth Key returns for his third year at quarterback. He threw for 1,800 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.
His favorite target also is back in senior wide receiver Matthew Harmon, who had 54 receptions for 1,240 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
“We've got some other guys who can catch it, too,” Weatherton said. “I am hoping (Harmon) doesn't have quite those stats this year, and we are spreading it around a little more.”
With the entire offensive line also back, Arkoma should light up the scoreboard. The Mustangs, however, need to improve defensively to win more games.
“We put up about 35 points a game last year and I think we can do more than that this year,” Weatherton said. “Defense is the question mark. We got to tackle better and do things better overall defensively.
“We don't have many 12 to 8 games. We are playing more like 56 to 41 games.”
By ed godfrey, Staff Writer
DISTRICT B-8 COACHES POLL
1. Keota (12-1)
2. Arkoma (4-6)
3. Cave Springs (6-4)
4. Gans (1-9)
5. Porum (2-8)
6. Watts (1-8)
Note: Last year’s record in parentheses