Class 5A preview
by Ben Johnson (@BenJohnsonTUL)
7/6/2018 1:16:47 AM
posted in: Articles | 2,150 views

Look back at 2017

2017 district champs

5A-1: Ardmore - The Tigers held the inside track in 5A-1 with a six-point victory over Altus in early October. From there, Ardmore claimed its first district crown since 2014, despite a loss to Lawton MacArthur in the final week of the regular season. The Tigers were in position for a deep playoff run, but they were upset at home by Noble in the quarterfinals.

5A-2: Carl Albert - Much like Millwood in Class 2A, the Titans faced little resistance along the way to another championship. Carl Albert ran its winning streak to 22 games over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and that included a 7-0 stroll through 5A-2. Then the Titans began their blitz on the playoffs, where they averaged 41.8 points per contest.

5A-3: Coweta - Despite losing quarterback J.D. Geneva midway through the season, the Tigers still managed to go unbeaten in 5A-3 and claim their second district title in three years. Coweta, though, ran into Cayden Aldridge and the Tahlequah Tigers in the quarterfinals, and it was Tahlequah that ended up advancing.

5A-4: Skiatook - Maybe one of the deeper districts in the state, regardless of class, the Bulldogs still skated through without any losses, despite two of the wins coming by seven points or fewer. T.K. Wilkerson rushed for more than 1,800 yards and the Bulldogs marched through the 5A playoffs until Carl Albert ousted them in the semifinals.


Talking title game: Carl Albert 35, Bishop McGuinness 23

The second matchup of the season between the two 5A-2 rivals was higher scoring than the district showdown. And it was Carl Albert with too much firepower in the championship game. The Titans' Dadrion Taylor rushed for 176 yards, and it was Carl Albert that scored the first 14 points of the game, including the first touchdown on Ben Harris' 80-yard strike to Jason Taylor II. The Titans built up a 14-0 lead, and then they answered every touchdown Bishop McGuinness would score along the way. The title ended up being the 13th and third since 2012 for the Titans.


On to 2018...

Players to watch

- Dominic Richardson (Bishop McGuinness): A nearly unstoppable force in the Irish's backfield last season, Richardson racked up 2,135 yards and 26 touchdowns on 189 carries. But a leg injury in Week 10 of the regular season cost Richardson the rest of the season while the Irish made it to the 5A title game against Carl Albert.
- Tyler Travis (Bishop McGuinness): As if Richardson wasn't enough, the Irish had two 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield last season. Travis hauled the ball 134 times for 1,167 yards and seven touchdowns.

- Dadrion Taylor (Carl Albert): It's becoming very clear that 5A-2 has some serious ball carriers, and is as good as they come. Taylor compiled 1,977 yards and 22 touchdowns on 215 carries during his junior season in 2017.
- Ben Harris (Carl Albert): The frightening thing for other teams in 5A is that Harris is only a freshman. In his first varsity season, he threw for 2,766 yards and 35 touchdowns on 141 of 221 passing. And he only threw four interceptions. Again, he was only a freshman.
- Cade Buchanan (Durant): As a junior last season, Buchanan passed for 1,906 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 158 of 293 passes. 

- Dylan Kedzior (Claremore): As Noah Grimmett's favorite target in the passing game, Kedzior caught 55 passes for 1,002 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2017.

- Hunter Largent (Noble): One of the top tacklers in 5A last season, Largent recorded 135 tackles and four sacks from his spot on the defensive line.

- Makai Blades (Glenpool): Served as Caleb Bigpond's change-of-pace tailback last season, but now Blades gets a chance to flash his potential that he showed late in 2017. Blades finished the season with 585 yards and five touchdowns on 120 carries, but in October last season he filled in for Bigpond and compiled 322 yards and three touchdowns on 54 carries against Shawnee and East Central.
- Spencer Harrington (Coweta): Became the focal point of Coweta's offense when quarterback J.D. Geneva went down with a season-ending injury midway through 2017. Harrington didn't disappoint with 1,078 yards on 149 carries, he also caught 20 passes for 308 yards. In all, he scored nine touchdowns on the ground and through the air.
- Chester Baah (Edison): University of Tulsa commit will be pivotal for the Eagles on both sides of the line in 2018. On offense he'll pave the way for tailback Sevion Morrison, who had 966 yards and 13 touchdowns on 117 carries in 2017.
- Grayson Boomer (Collinsville): With his brother Seth Boomer already slinging balls at quarterback for the University of Tulsa, Grayson Boomer appears to be the next Division I athlete in the family. Grayson Boomer's junior season in 2017 was derailed by injuries, but at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he figures to rebound with impact all over the field in 2018 after committing to Oklahoma State.
- Jayden Garner (Skiatook): T.K. Wilkerson may be gone, but Jayden Garner is poised to take over the play-making role. Garner amassed 1,042 total yards (641 rushing, 401 receiving) last season and scored 15 touchdowns. On defense he also reeled in two interceptions in the Bulldogs' defensive backfield.


District debriefs

5A-1: Altus and Ardmore already headline a tough district, one that includes Lawton MacArthur and El Reno. And with the departure of Del City, Noble moves from 5A-3 where the Bears went 8-2 overall last season. The rest of 5A-1 will include Western Heights, Duncan and Southeast.

5A-2: Most districts across the state have new looks to them, but 5A-2 will continue along with the same eight teams from 2016 and 2017. Carl Albert and Bishop McGuinness return as the favorites, and the rest of the group includes Lawton Eisenhower, Guthrie, Piedmont, Woodward, Guymon and NW Classen.

5A-3: District champion Coweta is back, along with the mostly the same cast of characters -- Edison, Glenpool, McAlester, Durant and East Central. The departures of Shawnee and Noble created openings for Bishop Kelley and Class 4A runner-up Ada to join the fold. Hale is also new, trading spots on the east side with East Central.

5A-4: Skiatook will look to defend its district championship, and Tahelquah and Claremore will be chasing the Bulldogs for another two years. Same goes for Collinsville, Pryor and Memorial. Two newcomers to the district include East Central and Rogers.


What’s new? (coaching moves)

- Todd Vargas had a solid two-year run at Altus with an 18-5 record, but he departed to take over at Madill. The Bulldogs then hired defensive coordinator Matt Terry to become Altus' new head coach.

- Eight football coaches after Bill Scott at Stilwell had failed to eclipse the 10-win threshold since 1997. But in four seasons, J.T. Cobble reached that mark and closed out his run at Stilwell with a 5-5 season. Now he's the head coach at Duncan.

- Justin Jones' seven-year run as Bishop McGuinness' head coach saw him go 68-22. Now he's the head coach at Norman North, and Jones' assistant Bryan Pierce is now the Irish's new head coach.

- Rob Gilbreath left Tulsa Rogers to become the head coach at Claremore Sequoyah. To replace Gilbreath, Marlon Houston was hired as the Ropers' new head coach.

- Ryan Reed stepped down after a five-year stint as the Chargers' head coach, which saw him go 25-23 over that span. In steps Brian Worrell as Memorial's new head coach after serving as an assistant on the Chargers' staff.

Fun facts:

- Gary Rose posted an impressive 78.1 winning percentage over 22 years as Carl Albert's head coach. Now, though, his successor Mike Corley holds a perfect winning percentage (1.000) after the Titans' 14-0 run in 2017 in Corley's first season as head coach.

-Glenpool's Steve Edwards has 256 career coaching victories. If he records five wins in 2018, he'll pass Alan Trimble and Gary Harper on the all-time win list among coaches in Oklahoma.

Prediction time

Ben - 5A-1 has plenty of quality and there's a chance a good team misses out on the playoffs | Going out on a limb to say that 5A-2 will come down to Carl Albert and Bishop McGuinness | Makai Blades' speed will be a game-changer -- Glenpool just has to get him some running room | J.D. Geneva will be on a lot of popular recruiting lists as the season goes along | Playmakers are in place for Edison to have a big year | Whomever wins the Tahlequah quarterback job will have massive shoes to fill in replacing Cayden Aldridge | Jayden Garner becomes Skiatook's next big thing | All of that being said, I'll stick with Carl Albert to win the title again. 

Swisher - I saw Richardson at the Skordle Showdown and he's quite the specimen. Good luck tackling him | Was Noble a flash in the pan in 2017? Jason Kersey would lead you to believe no, but we'll see. Still love Kendall's and those cinnamon rolls | Hey east side, we've given you 6A-I (and more recently 6A-II), but 5A belongs to the west. Only one east side school has won a 5A crown since 2006 (Booker T. Washington in 2008 and 2010) | That's not changing this year. Make room in the trophy case, Titans.

Whitt Carter - Lots of contenders in this deep class and it should make for a ton of big-time games | One team that's always overlooked -- Coweta. The Tigers will have another strong season behind their typical great offense | One coach that is overlooked -- Brad Gilbert at Tahlequah. The job has has done has been impressive | Dominic Richardson will be BETTER than he was before his injury | Circle your calendars for Nov. 2, when Carl Albert travels to McGuinness | I'll say Carl Albert wins that and takes care of things through the playoffs. The Titans bring home their third gold ball in a row in 2018.

Guest picker - Hall of Fame coach Randy Turney - Count me in on Carl Albert winning another title in 2018.

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