Tahlequah Daily Press

High School Sports

May 22, 2013

Roster reboot

After losing more than a dozen players to graduation, Keys’ football team looks to find replacements during spring ball.

PARK HILL — Gary Willis isn’t in the midst of his biggest roster turnover in his now 12th season as Keys’ football head coach. But it’s close.

When the Cougars’ 2012 season came to a close with a 42-14 loss to Metro Christian in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs, it spelled the end of 13 careers in red and black. It’s not quite what he went through after his fourth year in charge — but it’s not too far off.

“The first group we started the high school with as a Class A, Class B school had about 17 seniors, and it was a tremendous turnover then,” Willis said. “We’ve got several guys right here that played last year. It’s about a handful that started on each side of the ball.”

While some return, guys like Cody Cole, Blake Maxey, Trevor Eubanks, Tyler Blankenship, Frankie Walker and Chris Kelley are gone. So are JJ Ozturk, Jesse Haeberle, Mason Turman, Tyler Hunter, Darran Bird, Jacob Daugherty and Tommy Kuhns.

That means all the leadership and responsibility falls upon the incoming senior class. All four of them.

“Dillon Clark played some linebacker last year and will probably be our middle linebacker this year. Trey Horn is back at center, and he’s a three-year starter,” Willis said of half of his senior class, which also includes Josh Ferguson and Seth Alsenay.

Some incoming juniors will also provide production on a consistent basis.

“Rylan Davenport back at receiver, and he’s kind of the old receiver, which is funny because he’ll only be a junior,” said Willis, whose team finished the 2012 campaign 7-4.

“We lost some guys on defense, but we’ll have John Haeberle at cornerback and Ferguson at free safety. Hazen Williams, who played some O-line and D-line, will also be back. So that’s three guys right there.”

The Cougars continued through spring practice on Tuesday despite a second straight day of heavy rains. Keys converted the baseball team’s indoor facility into a modified football field to run through some plays.

“It’s a good facility,” Willis said, “to get something done.”

And that’s exactly what Willis and the Cougars are aiming for, especially with a young group primed to take over when the season opener against Claremore-Sequoyah rolls around.

“We’re going to be young, but I’m excited, though,” Willis said. “We have a lot of good athletes, and a lot of good attitudes. Everybody here is working hard, and there are no problem kids — it’s that kind of thing.”

As for preparing a budding group for varsity competition come August and September, it’s something Willis welcomes with open arms.

“We lost a lot of guys and a lot of size on the line,” Willis said, “but it’s always fun when you have athletes coming back and you get to coach them up. It’s kind of a new-blood type of deal, and it’s pretty neat.”

Next in the Cougars’ backfield

Keys will have fresh faces at both quarterback and tailback when the it opens its season against Claremore-Sequoyah in early September. Find out who the Cougars will use at those spots on our sports blog (www.tahlequahdailypress.com/sportsblog) and also in upcoming editions of the Daily Press.

1
Text Only
High School Sports
  • Lamons-main.jpg Tahlequah wrestler Hestin Lamons adds to memorable season with All-State triumph

    Hestin Lamons’ fitness regiment has been a grueling one this summer. It paid off in a big way at the All-State wrestling dual on Wednesday night.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Date set for Keys football physicals

    Before scheduled practices can begin in order to prepare for the season, players must first receive a physical.
    Next Tuesday, Aug. 5, Keys High School will be administering physicals in the high school cafeteria.

    July 31, 2014

  • Keys-Dakota.jpg Playing both sides of the line

    Recently, Keys High School football standout Dakota Matlock was nearly severely injured in a terrifying car wreck.

    Matlock is coming off a stellar gridiron season for Keys High School. On offense, Matlock ran for over 1,000 yards for the Cougars. In his sophomore season, Matlock led Keys in tackles from the safety position.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • TAH-MORGAN.jpg Brett’s ball club

    Brett Morgan taking over as Tahlequah’s softball coach

    July 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Morgan taking over as Tahlequah’s softball coach

    July 14, 2014

  • -1.tif Playing through pain

    Tahlequah's Chase Campbell playing football despite an injured shoulder

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • o'donnell3.jpg Randee repairs shoulder

    Former Tahlequah standout Randee O’Donnell has shoulder operation before starting college career

    July 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • OSSAA to coaches: No more criticism of officials

    June 27, 2014

Poll

Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Stocks