By BEN JOHNSON
The schedule appeared tough enough on the surface. But by the end of the 2013 football season, both Keys and Sequoyah had schedules that better resembled meat grinders.
Both had the misdeed of taking on Locust Grove, Hilldale, Lincoln Christian and Jay in District 3A-7. Then toss in Sequoyah’s out-of-district contests against Beggs and Victory Christian and Keys’ non-district clashes against Vian and Checotah and you have one brutal test after another on the gridiron.
No need to tell Sequoyah head coach Shane Richardson, he’s well aware of what transpired on his team’s schedule this year.
“We ended up playing five of the top 11 teams in (Class) 3A,” Richardson said. “Our seniors went through the gauntlet.”
District foes of Sequoyah and Keys made impressive runs during the 3A playoffs. Lincoln Christian, Locust Grove and Hilldale all made the 3A quarterfinals. And adding to Keys’ degree of difficulty was Vian’s run to the 2A semifinals.
With deep playoff surges being made by teams in District 3A-7, that meant all the distinguished postseason honors were commonly dispersed among Lincoln Christian, Hilldale and Locust Grove. But Sequoyah and Keys players managed to snatch a couple of honors along the way.
For the Indians (4-6 overall, 2-4 in 3A-7), Nick Kingfisher, Cody Hooper, Marley Lowe, Dylan Poe, Kyle Martinez, Colin Vann, Elijah Tucker and Caisen Green were named to the All-District 3A-7 squad. Green was Sequoyah’s leading receiver with 44 catches for 782 yards and 13 touchdowns; Hooper — in addition to 12 catches for 117 yards — led Sequoyah with five interceptions on defense; Kingfisher did a little bit of everything for the Indians (two rushing touchdowns, 17 catches for 343 yards, three interceptions, a 32.2 yard-per-kickoff-return average and a 36.6 yard-per-punt); and Poe tied for the team lead in tackles with 40.
“They are well-deserving of the All-District team,” Richardson said. “I’m proud of all of our players.”
At Keys, running back Dakota Matlock finished the year with 920 yards and eight touchdowns on 136 carries. Trey Horn was the Cougars’ only other All-District selection.
Locust Grove’s Cory Rhode was named the district’s Most Valuable Player, while his coach, Matt Hennesy, picked up Coach of the Year accolades.
Most Valuable Player: Cory Rhode (Locust Grove) - Ran for 1,368 yards and 20 touchdowns on 178 carries. Added 35 catches for 325 yards and two touchdowns.
Offensive MVP: Justin Flewellen (Lincoln Christian) - Averaged 6.6 yards per carry (1,840 yards on 279 carries) while totaling 18 touchdowns.
Defensive MVP: Justin Sanders (Hilldale) - Was the Hornets’ top sacker with 15 and the team’s second-leading tackler with 119.
Special Teams MVP: Cameron McIntire (Locust Grove) - Had 15 kick returns for an average of 31 yards per return, plus two touchdowns. Also led the Pirates in receiving with 80 catches for 950 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Coach of the Year: Matt Hennesy (Locust Grove) - Took over a club that went 4-6 in 2012 and led the Pirates to a 12-1 season, including a 3A quarterfinal appearance, which ended with a loss to Plainview.
Offensive Players of the Year
Offensive line: Ryan Woolman (Locust Grove) - Was key up front on the offensive line for a unit that averaged more than 40 points per contest.
Quarterback: Chandler Puckett (Hilldale) - Completed 60.6 percent (154 of 254) of his passes for 2,391 yards and 30 touchdowns, compared to only 10 interceptions.
Wide receiver: Bradley Campbell (Hilldale) - As Puckett’s favorite target, he hauled in 73 catches for 1,336 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Defensive Players of the Year
Defensive line: CJ Honeycutt (Hilldale) - Was a half sack short of 10 for the season. Also had 91 tackles.
OLB/DE: Christian Duffield (Jay) - Racked up 111 tackles and three sacks.
Inside linebacker: Tim Schwoegler (Lincoln Christian) - Led the Bulldogs with 127 tackles.
Defensive back: Derek Shrum (Jay) - Had one interception and 82 tackles for the Bulldogs.
Locust Grove: Traden Sokoloski (OLB), Charley Briggs (DE).
Hilldale: Dakota Holmes (DB), Jake Leybas (LB), Hunter Olson (OL), Seth Reheard (RB).
Lincoln Christian: Rylan Schmidt (OL), Garrett Parks (OL), Brett Prichett (DB).
Jay: Kongmong Vang (WR/DB), Brett Webb (OL), Briton Duncan (OL), Jeremiah Sirmans (LB).
Sequoyah: Nick Kingfisher (DB), Cody Hooper (DB), Marley Lowe (DB), Dylan Poe (LB), Kyle Martinez (DE), Colin Vann (OL), Elijah Tucker (OL), Caisen Green (WR).
Keys: Trey Horn (OL), Dakota Matlock (RB).
Hilldale: Jake Adams (LB), Caleb Schultz (OL), Dakota Nail (OL).
Lincoln Christian: Aaron Birch (OL).
Jay: Brooks Carroll (RB).
Sequoyah: Grant Neugin (LB).
Keys: Chance Weir (DL).
Westville: Gavin Beach (DB), Kemon Hammer (DL), Dylon Grant (WR), Ethan Garman (OL).