By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
Most coaches will tell you that a balanced team is tougher to plan for than a one-dimensional one.
But when that balance comes in the body of one person, the task is even tougher as Roland found out on Friday. Checotah’s Caleb Knight ran through the Rangers’ defense for 116 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns, passed for another 169 yards and three touchdowns and had eight tackles while on defense, leading the Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 3A-8) to a 46-24 win over the Rangers (3-1, 0-1 3A-8) in their District 3A-8 opener to earn the Phoenix Player of the Week honor.
“He means the world to our program,” said Checotah’s first-year coach Chad Hendricks. “He’s a great leader. The kids respect him and look up to him. They have every reason to because he works hard and is very likable.
“He can run the offense and play defense. He’s just a great all-around football player.”
And Knight is finding that having Hendricks as his coach, and a new system, has not been that big a transition from the system that former coach Brandon Turley, now at Henryetta, had in place.
“The only real change was on defense,” Knight said. “We have a whole different attitude. (Hendricks) believes coming in and flying fast to the football.”
While the Wildcats entered Friday’s game at 3-0, to open the district schedule with a win at Roland, who pulled out a 22-20 in Checotah last year with the Wildcats fumbling away a chance on Roland’s 12-yard line on their final possession, was a huge boost for the Wildcats, according to Knight.
“It’s really good to win your first district game, especially it being Roland,” he said. “After them beating us last year the way they did, it was important to get the momentum rolling.”
Hendricks is glad to have Knight playing for him instead of against him. The praise the coach lays on his senior comes from years of experience.
“It’s huge to come in here and have a player like Caleb,” Hendricks said. “I was telling one of the coaches early in the year he may the best quarterback in the however many years I’ve been coaching that I’ve ever been around. He has all the intangibles – he’s a run threat, he can throw the ball well and he’s very, very intelligent.
“He allows us to do different things on offense and puts us in good positions. That type of football savvy carries over to his defense as well. I’m very fortunate to have someone like that my first year here.”
Once the newness wore off, the Wildcats got comfortable with what was expected of them. On Friday, Checotah used that familiarity to get off to a good start.
“We were really running the ball good early,” Knight said. “That really opened up the pass and we started passing all over them. We were pretty much able to do whatever we wanted to. On defense, they came out and ran stretch a lot and we were able to come up and do pretty good in stopping them.”
Week four honor roll
Caleb Knight, Checotah — Rushed for 116 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns, completed 20 passes for 169 yards and 3 TDs and had eight tackles on defense in the Wildcats’ 46-24 win over Roland.
Hunter Woods, Hilldale — Rushed for 146 yards on 34 carries, scoring three times as Hilldale beat Jay 36-14.
Bradley Campbell, Hilldale — Four catches for 134 yards and two scores.
Justin Hooper, Sequoyah — Rushed 36 times for 242 yards and two touchdowns as Sequoyah fell to Locust Grove 38-34.
Tiron RattlingGourd, Sequoyah – Seven solo tackles, three of them sacks and three others for lost yardage.
Lawrence Evitt, Wagoner – Rushed 22 times for 311 yards and three TDs in Wagoner’s 35-20 win over Catoosa.
J.R. Singleton, Fort Gibson – Rushed for 112 yards on 15 carries in the Tigers’ 38-12 win over Tulsa Rogers.
David Dick, Tahlequah – Rushed for 201 yards on 17 carries, scoring four touchdowns, three rushing and one passing.
Brandon Conrad, Tahlequah – 160 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Colton Wright, Tahlequah – 127 yards on 14 carries.
Trey Moore, Eufaula – 99 yards rushing on 11 carries with two touchdowns in Eufaula’s 35-12 win over Idabel.
Darren Shanks, Webbers Falls — Was 11-of-12 passing for 149 yards and four touchdowns, all in one half, as the Warriors mercy-ruled Bokoshe 48-0.
Rylee Simon, Vian – Six rushes, 110 yards in a 59-0 win over Pocola.
Seth Sandlin, Stigler – 348 yards total offense with 21 carries for 100 yards and 19-of-43 passing for 248 yards.
Alex Wheeland, Haskell – 12 solo tackles, 12 assists, one interception and 142 yards rushing in Haskell’s 50-14 loss to state-ranked Meeker.
Darren Bollman, Porum – 25 carries, 172 yards, four touchdowns in a 50-20 win over Gans.
This week's schedule
All games 7:30 p.m. Friday, unless noted
Wagoner at Tulsa McLain, 7 p.m.
Wyandotte at Hulbert, 7 p.m.
Muskogee at Westmoore
Claremore at Tahlequah
Fort Gibson at Broken Bow
Inola at Hilldale
Keys at Sequoyah
Valliant at Checotah
Eufaula at Stigler
Holdenville at Haskell
Vian at Antlers
Gore at Canadian
Warner at Porter
Porum at Wetumka
Midway at Bokoshe
Thackerville at Webbers Falls