Summer prides and team camps are going on and it’s still just under three months from season openers, but the area’s best began surfacing last year.
With the full summer preparation back after a COVID-19 filled year, this list will grow by the time the Phoenix’s Pigskin Preview comes out in late August.
An early look at the offensive standouts follow.
• Luke Adcock, Jr., Eufaula: The All-Phoenix 6-3, 205-pounder threw for 2,170 yards and 22 touchdowns a year ago in leading the Ironheads to a 10-3 record and 3A quarterfinal spot. An added plus, he has one of the area’s top receivers back (see below).
• Geral Washington, Sr., Midway: The Chargers were hit hard by graduation after reaching the Class C quarterfinals at 10-1. But they have the 5-10, 175 pound current Small School Offensive Player of the Year back under new coach Steve Corn. Washington threw for 1,638 yards.
• Zane Craighead, Sr., Gore: In nine games with a heavy underclassman team, the 6-1, 180 Craighead rushed for 682 yards and threw for 1,040. All his weapons are a year older.
• Jake Vernnon, Sr., Checotah: Had 1,126 yards passing.
• Cole Mahaney, Jr. Fort Gibson: The junior will have experienced receivers and a faster unit in what will be his third season as a starter coming off a 1,385-yard campaign. Expect him to use his feet a little more this year — had had just 176 yards on the ground last year.
• Dontierre Fisher, Sr., Checotah: Fisher averaged 127 yards per game in a 1,402-yard season. A very good line is mostly back. Fisher, who is offered by Iowa State, Kansas, North Texas, Memphis and Nebraska at this point. Made All-Phoenix and was Newcomer of Year as a freshman.
• Eric Virgil, Jr., Hilldale: Had 1,502 yards and 16 touchdowns for the 4A quarterfinalist Hornets. He missed two games due to COVID tracing. Made All-Phoenix.
Mason Jim, Sr., Warner: Coming off a 1,304-yard season, Jim will be a useful weapon for new Eagles coach Rafe Watkins.
• Gunnar Dozier, Sr., Gore: In nine games, this 6-1, 185-pound Pirate ran for 1,217 yards. Made All-Phoenix.
• Khelil Deere, Sr., Eufaula: The All-Phoenix Deere (5-10, 170) led all area receivers with 53 catches for 1,110 yards and 14 touchdowns.
• Logan Harper, Jr., Hilldale: The 6-3, 177-pound junior had 463 yards on 28 catches last year.
• Brayson Lawson. Jr., Hilldale. A three-way impact player whose numbers will increase with the graduation of Dylan Walker, the second leading area receiver last year. Lawson (5-11, 187) had 339 yards on 18 receptions with four touchdowns.
• Hunter Branch, Jr., Fort Gibson: At 6-2, 155, he had 353 yards on 31 catches and seems set for a busier 2021.
• Jayden Bell, Jr., Muskogee: A guy who showed some promise last year with an undeveloped quarterback should be one who thrives in Chris Risenhoover’s spread offense.
• Ty Dodd, C, 6-5, 300, Jr. Eufaula. All-Phoenix two consecutive years, Dodd (6-5, 300) graded out 92 percent with 26 pancakes.
• Omarion Warrior, Sr., Checotah: At 6-4, 290, he graded out 87 percent with five pancake blocks as a tackle. He’s also got a 3.6 GPA. All-Phoenix a year ago.
• Evan Keefe, Jr., Hilldale: At 6-3, 246, Keefe placed sixth at state at 275 and also threw in track.
• Brody Rainbolt, Sr., Fort Gibson: The 6-4, 240 Rainbolt graded B-plus, tops among Tiger linemen and is a multi-year starter.
• Kyler Pouncil, Sr., Checotah: The guard is 5-8, 240 and graded out 85 percent last year.
•Jamaal Riggs, Wagoner: The 5-10, 275 Riggs started all 16 games last season. There’s only one other starter returning for the defending 4A champs.
• Ethan Muehlenweg, Wagoner: Was 72 of 74 on PATs and 3 of 7 on field goals with a longest of 37 yards.
• Jaxson Whittiker, Sr., Hilldale: Was 52 of 56 on extra points last year and 4 of 7 on field goals, the longest of 26 yards.
• Jaxon Purdue, Sr., Fort Gibson: Was 25 of 27 on extra points and 3 of 6 on field goals, his longest of 37 yards.
• Brayson Lawson, Sr., Hilldale: Averaged 29.6 on kick returns and 19.0 on punts.
Keep an eye on
• Risenhoover’s offensive makeover at Muskogee. There’s youth at a lot of positions and three competing at quarterback. But the potential, and reputation, are there. Stigler produced four All-Phoenix large school offensive players of the year.
• Gabe Rodriguez, Jr., Wagoner: He’ll take over as starter of an offense with no returning starters. But it’s Wagoner, and Rodriguez is the younger brother of three-time state champ Malcolm Rodriguez and his oldest brother Roman, who was also an All-Phoenix MVP.
• And there will be others.