MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

May 31, 2014

Graduation, shifts give Hilldale a new look

Hilldale will be a new-look football team and not just because 17 seniors and many of the major contributors to two consecutive Class 3A quarterfinal squads walked off with diplomas earlier this month.

The Hornets return four with starting experience, two of which return on the line. Along with those who are emerging as likely replacement parts, the Hornets should average about 260 pounds across the front.

Bailey Puckett is moving from right guard to right tackle. Wyatt Gassaway from right tackle to left tackle. Both are in the 220-230 pound range. Gunner Drake, a 275-pound senior, takes over at left guard and Xavier Milton, a 255-pound sophomore, has gotten significant reps at right guard. Another sophomore, Austin Patterson is lining up at center and at 210 is the lighter of the group.

“It’s a group that will enable us to go more downhill out of the I and run right at people,” said Hilldale coach Chad Kirkhart.

Mitchell Croftcheck, who saw some junk time behind Phoenix Large School Offensive Player  of the Year Chandler Puckett at quarterback last season, inherits that job and has impressed Kirkhart with his running ability in a team camp this past week at Locust Grove.

“He reads defenses well and reacts accordingly and did some good things running with the football,” Kirkhart said. “Obviously we’ve had a good one back there the past couple years, but I think in six practices and two nights of team camp he’s definitely gotten better from day one and will continue to improve.”

The tip of the I will be Hunter Woods, who due to injury took over as a starter early last season and had five 100-yard rushing games.

“He’s really looked good — stronger, faster,” Kirkhart said. “He’s definitely been one of the bright spots so far.”

Matt Bargsten is the top receiver so far. Unlike 1,000-yard man Bradley Campbell, he’s more of a possession receiver.

Which shifts the focus, at least for now, to a run-oriented attack.

Two guys who started on defense in 2013 return. Bargsten at safety led the defensive backs in tackles and interceptions with seven and also had seven sacks. Woods will move from linebacker to corner.

“Matt gives us some good leadership back there along with the most experience and Hunter, because of his quickness, we’re switching him to the secondary,” defensive coordinator Ryan Keenom said.

Tyler Gober was in the middle of the defensive front last year but will not play this season.

“Obviously we have a lot of new guys but we have a lot of new guys who are competing,” said Keenom. “Hopefully early summer into fall they’ll separate themselves somewhat.”

There are a lot of holes to fill due to all those diplomas.

“Without a doubt that was a special group of kids, maybe not all the most talented we’ve had but kids who believed they could beat whoever we played,” Keenom said. “And they beat some teams that were more talented because of that. Now, these guys earning playing time are coming up having played behind them and they got to see what happened from that group. Hopefully it instilled some of that attitude in them. We’ve got the same staff so nothing has changed for them.”

The Hornets will have a team camp June 9-10 at Claremore Sequoyah, then start Summer Pride.

1
Text Only
Prep Sports
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Poll

Should a federal judge have the power to strike down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage?

Yes
No
     View Results
Featured Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks