Hilldale head coach David Blevins has yet to make a decision on a starter at quarterback, meaning the Hornets will head to Claremore Sequoyah on Friday planning on playing both Melchesidech Porter and Johnnie Durossette in the season opener.
“We’ll probably have one take the first quarter and the other take the next one and try and allow them to get in a groove,” Blevins said. “We’ll let it play out and whoever does the best in their quarter will probably get the second half.”
Durossette, a junior, was battling with sophomore Michael Oeser coming out of the spring. Porter arrived late in the summer having played his freshman year at Miami and last year at both Broken Arrow and in the spring, Owasso. Neither quarterback led a touchdown drive in last week’s scrimmage against Tahlequah.
“We had one turnover instead of three so that was an improvement,” Blevins said. “There’s just no clarity right now. They’re both doing good things as well as bad things, but they’re both working their butts off and getting better. We’ll see how it goes.
“You’d like to have that one guy at this point. Everything else you have your rotation – receiver, running backs, offensive line and even some of our defensive linemen, but right now, these two are just battling and it’s still up for grabs.”
That’s the biggest question mark for Blevins’ team. One other was settled when Dylan Walker was moved to an outside linebacker spot last week to strengthen the middle level of the defense.
“I miss playing it, a lot,” said Walker.
In his place at safety is sophomore Brayson Lawson.
“Lawson gave up one bomb last week but after that he was pretty solid,” Blevins said. “He’s just been there a week and it’s a little tougher when you’re going against some top receivers, which I thought Tahlequah was really good.”
Sequoyah isn’t on the level of Tahlequah, nor are the Eagles comparable to fellow Class 3A member Lincoln Christian. They enter the game off a 38-7 loss to Miami and have a 12-game losing streak, including a 54-7 thrashing from the Hornets at Hilldale a year ago.
The Eagles will sport the same complicated wing-T offense they employed a year ago. A week ago they were outsized up front and committed four turnovers with a team that has a freshman quarterback in 5-foot-10 Brett Burks among 10 total freshmen and just three seniors on their roster.
It’s a tough offense to simulate with a scout team. Hilldale adjusted quickly a year ago, shutting the Eagle down after both teams scored on their opening possessions.
“It’s hard to simulate. Their starters are different than our scout team, having more skill with it,” Walker said. “You have to get an actual game feel for it.”
Hilldale had 592 yards of offense in last year’s game, but with a more settled quarterback situation.
“Our biggest thing is we need to play fundamental football for four quarters,” Blevins said. “If you make a mistake, make sure you’re making it going 100 miles an hour.
“Our two scrimmages were against teams that are at a little higher level than we are right now as young and inexperienced as we are. This one is more along that line in terms of youth and inexperience. When you have that, it boils down to whoever makes the least mistakes.”
It’s been a shaky scrimmage start, though, albeit against quality competition. Walker has heard that uncertainty among fans about this young team.
“People always stay that until they come and watch us play and see what we can actually do,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of very skilled underclassmen who will come up like they’re supposed to. We’ll get playing time under our belt and people will see.”