By BEN JOHNSON
High school football in Cherokee County left something to be desired in 2013. Of course, that yearning was for more victories.
Among Tahlequah, Sequoyah, Keys and Hulbert, the four schools logged seven victories in 40 games.
That makes spring practice in preparation for the 2014 season that much more important. And it all started this week.
Here’s what to look for from area teams during spring ball:
- Who will fill key roles at Tahlequah? The Tigers are coming off a 1-9 season, and they’ll have a lot of holes to fill throughout the roster for the 2014 campaign. Quarterback David Dick is gone and so is Brandon Conrad (cornerback/running back), Colton Wright (linebacker/running back) and Kourtland McMillan (wide receiver). That doesn’t even include offensive/defensive linemen, Charles Lamons, Eric Garcia and Wesley Rivas. Responsibilities at quarterback will likely fall in Will Carlile’s lap, or perhaps Kyle Lucas will get a shot. Running back will likely be a spot up for grabs all the way through fall practice, and Reese Davis (linebacker) and Cole Wilkie (offensive line) will be in charge of leading a resurgence at their respective positions.
- Zach Parish and Justin Hooper return, so what does Sequoyah have in store? Replacing Brayden Scott at quarterback was no easy chore for Parish, but he did complete 19 passes for touchdowns. Now he has to work on his accuracy after completing only 43.5 percent (101 of 232) of his passes, which went along with 13 interceptions. And if Hooper improves, opponents in Sequoyah’s district ought to watch out. As a sophomore, Hooper ran for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns on 222 carries. Any improvement could put Sequoyah in playoff contention immediately.
- When will Keys hit the field? With head coach Gary Willis recently resigning, the Cougars will not have spring practice. They will instead rely on 7-on-7 drills during the summer months in an attempt to improve.