By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Chad Hendricks will have the beef at Checotah this season.
Hendricks, in his second season as the Wildcats’ head coach, has two returning kids up front in excess of 290 pounds and a transfer who will add equal poundage. All are 6-4 or taller.
“The good thing is our size is also athletic,” Hendricks said. “It’s not like we’re just throwing big bodies out there. They’re the total package, something you don’t see that often at the 3A level. We’ve very excited about what we have up front, no doubt about it.”
Those tools have given Hendricks the flexibility to return 6-4, 285 senior Cody Gilroy to center, his natural position, after a year at tackle.
“He’s also an excellent deep snapper,” Hendricks said of the three-sport standout who was also a force inside the paint on the basketball court. “He’s scored high, around 21 or 22 on the ACT, which will add to his attractiveness to schools at the next level. He’s very diverse, he’s good in run or pass protection and he’s also an emotional leader.”
Sam Houston State has indicated interest in Gilroy and Louisiana-Monroe has invited him to their camp on July 19. Sam Houston showed interest at a camp Gilroy was at in Texas.
“I’ve gone to a couple of camps this summer and I think I’ve really learned a lot more about technique, where I put my hands, not lunging, working with my feet,” he said. “I still am working on my strength. I’ve improved my max lifts about 30 pounds each but I’m not done.”
2. Ty Andrews, Vian, 6-2, 260, Jr., G
The cousin of Tulsa signee Rob Boyd, Andrews stepped in for his relative last season and started all 13 games. He graded out at 90 percent.
“He’s got the chance to be just as good,” Vian coach Brandon Tyler said. “The difference with him is that he plays with an attitude, a mean streak. Rob was good but more laid-back.”
3. Ronnie Clayton, Checotah, 6-5, 300, Jr., T
Another of Hendricks’ outstanding building blocks on the offensive front, Clayton had 62 pancake blocks in 2013. “He’s athletic, making him a great puller and pass blocker, and punishes at the point of attack,” said Hendricks.
4. Daxton Williams,
Eufaula, 6-4, 240, Sr., TE
One of the top returning defensive linemen, the Ironheads didn’t throw much a year ago when Williams had 11 catches for 146 yards. But he will likely be used more in this role in the fall. He’s also an excellent blocker.
“He’s got great, soft hands,” said Eufaula coach Larry Newton. “He is a big body that is good on his feet. He had several down field blocks that led to good yardage.”
5. Adonis Cole,
Muskogee, 6-3, 240, Sr., OL
Became a starter last year and has progressed well. He finished third in the 6A state wrestling tournament. “In wrestling you need quick hands, footwork, hip explosion, good balance, good leverage, and he had a very successful year progressing in those areas,” said Roughers offensive line coach Jason Medrano.
“Those things help him but more than anything, it’s his aggression that’s made him better, and going to help him become one of the top linemen in the state. Everything he does now, he does aggressively and with confidence. That makes up for any limitations he may have.”
6. Hunter Soap,
Sequoyah, 6-1, 240, Jr., C
“He has good skills for his size,” said Sequoyah coach Shane Richardson. “He has good feet and plays with good effort. He is also our deep snapper.”
7. Bailey Puckett,
Hilldale, 6-4, 275, Jr., RT
Leader on the offensive line. Moves from right guard to right tackle where he started all 13 games last year. One area where the Hornets have experience returning with three starters back, which should help a solid returning ground game.
8. Jared Ragland, Fort Gibson, 6-3, 285, Sr., OL
The anchor of the Tigers’ front. “Very physical, very sound in the run blocking and is becoming a solid pass blocking guy,” said Fort Gibson coach James Singleton.
9. Eric Stepp, Wagoner,
5-11, 225, Jr.
Returning starter for the Bulldogs will make the transition from center to tackle for Bulldogs coach Dale Condict.