Sequoyah finished with a 3-7 record and an 0-5 record at home in 2018. Indians coach Shane Richardson and his players are using that as motivation after a year of maturing.
“Last year we felt like we got better towards the end of the season,” Richardson said. “Nobody was happy with a 3-7 record. Right now everyone is positive and looking forward to the season.”
Richardson and his squad started spring practice on May 8 and his players are amped to be back on the field.
“We’ve got a lot of positive energy, a lot of good vibes, and a lot of effort,” Richardson said.
On a team that is comprised of mostly seniors this upcoming season, Richardson is expecting those guys to be the brains and leaders of the team.
“They’ve taken that (leadership) role and they’ve done good with it so far,” he said. “Having that leadership in the locker room among the players is an important part of team chemistry… They’ve embraced it.”
Senior wide receiver and outside linebacker renton Harris, particularly has Richardson’s attention.
“He’s a playmaker for us on offense… We like to try to get him the ball,” Richardson said. “On defense he plays real physical.”
Depth is where the Indians are lacking and is where Richardson wants to improve the most.
“We need to develop that so we aren’t relying on six or seven guys to play both ways the whole game,” he said. “We need to try and find some younger guys to play and even some older guys who haven’t got to play, especially on the offensive line if we want success.”
The bar for success hasn’t changed for Richardson.
“Our goal every year is to compete in our district and make the playoffs,” he said. “That’s not going to change this year, that was our goal last year and it didn’t work out that way… We want to be a factor in the district and make the playoffs.”
Sequoyah gets the chance to prove it can make that district noise on September 6 when Muldrow comes to town for the season opener.
For Warner, last season’s 0-10 performance is history and the Eagles are only looking back for motivation as what not to repeat. The cycle of success is hoping to start with Chuck Capps, the new head coach and Warner grad.
In very few practices with his new group of young players, Capps is seeing flashes of what could be success.
“I’m seeing a lot of hunger out of these guys,” Capps said. “They’re one year older, better and bigger… I think they’re ready, for lack of a better term, to show people what they can do.”
The Eagles have taken no time adjusting to Capps’ system. A “not identical but similar” system to that of John Hart’s, who stepped down after last season.
“I’m using the strength of the player,” he said. “I’m not trying to come in here and yank the wheel and change the whole scheme of things.”
Capps doesn’t see any particular standout so far, with the exception of leadership..
“He’s spitting out words of encouragement,” Capps said. “He’s really trying to rally the guys around him.”
Capps’ goals aren’t as clear-cut as most coaches, with a direct answer of winning state. It’s more of a town pride thing for him.
“We want to give the town something to cheer about. It’s early in the year though, we’ve got to start off winning our first game and riding momentum,” he said.
Warner kicks off its season on August 30 against Chouteau at home.
It’s taken no time for new Haskell coach Greg Nation to adjust to his role. He’s just excited for the new adventure in his 27th year.
“Coaching is coaching,” he said. “You’re dealing with kids and building relationships. Obviously its a change of scenery but really it’s about the kids having fun and getting to know me.”
Nation doesn’t have drastic goals for the Haymakers after a 5-5 season.
“My goals have changed since I first became a coach,” he said. It used to be just win the district, win state. Now I really just want to watch the players learn and watch them develop.”
The Haymakers started spring practice on Monday and Nation hasn’t gotten all of his players’ names down, but he knew one who he is looking who is coming off a standout year, All-Phoenix defensive lineman Zane Adams., who had 17 sacks in 2018.
“I knew his name before I even got here,” Nation said. “As a coach you look up and ask yourself if a kid passes the eye test and he definitely passes.”
There is good chemistry in the young Haskell team, despite losing their leader and quarterback, Tayden Lucero, who rushed for 22 touchdowns last season.
“The good thing about coming to a school like Haskell is that you grow up with these guys from kindergarten,” Nation said. Those are the guys you play pee-wee football with and middle school football with and now high school.”
Nation is generally just looking forward to having fun win or lose. His Haymakers will get the chance to do so on August 30. where they will visit Gore to start their season.
— Jakub Craig, correspondent