By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
KINGFISHER, Okla. —
Some day Kingfisher’s Landon Nault may look back with pride on the two silver balls the Yellowjackets have won during his illustrious prep football career.
But not now.
Looking at the state runner-up trophies from his freshman and junior seasons just motivates him to work even harder to get the one accomplishment he hasn’t had during his career.
“Looking down the road, it might be a good thing, but it’s definitely not what you want,’’ Nault said before a Kingfisher workout Wednesday. “It’s definitely motivation ... not just for me, but a lot of guys.’’
He hasn’t forgotten about the emotional letdown after the 28-21 loss to Blanchard in last year’s finals, the only blemish on a 14-1 record. Kingfisher lost to Heritage Hall his freshman year in the title game.
“It hurt a lot, especially it being a second time,’’ he said. “To have to go through it again is not a good feeling. You want to get that bad taste out of your mouth.’’
Nault rushed for 2,057 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. His numbers have risen steadily through the years — 1,340 yards and 20 TDs as a freshman and 1,517 yards and 25 touchdowns as a sophomore.
For his career, he has rushed for 4,914 yards and scored 76 touchdowns.
“My main goal is to win a state championship,’’ he said. “I want it even more now. That’s what I’m focusing on. I’ve done pretty much everything except that. The state championship is the main goal. Anything else that happens is a bonus.’’
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have high expectations.
“I’m looking to gain more yards this year,’’ he said. “Whatever happens, happens I guess.’’
Nault might be asked to take an even bigger load this season with the graduation of quarterback Grant Newton, who threw for 1,596 yards and was an equally proficient runner (1,144 yards).
Whoever wins the Kingfisher quarterback battle, will be the fourth different quarterback Nault has worked with during his career.
“That probably adds more fuel than pressure,’’ Nault said. “I take that (pressure) as a good thing. I’m excited about having the ball in my hands. It’s a good thing because I can handle the pressure. If they decide to move the ball around a little more, then that’s what’s going to happen. What happens will happen.’’
Nault describes his running style as a little bit elusive with a little bit of power.
He might look like a scat-back at 5-foot-10 and 171 pounds, but that would be deceiving.
“Breaking tackles is what I’m best at,’’ he said. “I’m not the fastest guy out there and I’m not the strongest one out there. My toughness is the main thing working in my favor.’’
He lives for the collisions and contact.
“You want to punish them a little,’’ Nault said. “That might make them shy away the next time. That extra hit is the fun part. I definitely like giving out punishment.’’
He lit up when talking about Friday’s practice when the Yellowjackets can go to full pads.
“That’s a fun day,’’ he said. “I like the contact.’’
He makes up for any lack of size with heart and hard work.
“All the hard work that we have put in is the reason we (Kingfisher) have been successful,’’ he said. “This summer went well for me. I felt I got a lot stronger. I worked a lot on my lower body and improving my strength and power.’’
He doesn’t have one particular runner he tries to emulate. Nault is a student of the game studying different running styles.
“I try to take a little bit from each player I see,’’ Nault said. “I have always been a Barry Sanders or Adrian Peterson fan. They made you miss and they broke tackles.’’
Nault learned first-hand from his brother Logan, who played on three state runner-up teams with the Yellowjackets (2007, 2009, 2010).
“He was always positive with me,’’ Nault said. “If he saw something I needed to work on or to fix, he was always there to say you need to work on this. We didn’t have any rivalry. We were usually pretty modest with each other.’’
Nault tries to have a Barry Sanders personality — no showboating, act like you have been there once you get in the end zone
“We don’t have any egos here,’’ he said. “Everybody stays humble for the most part.’’
He spots head coach Jeff Myers, who has won 96 games in nine seasons at KHS, but is still chasing a state championship ring.
“We’re all modest except for coach Myers, he has a big head,’’ he said with a chuckle.
He and Myers have a close relationship.
“He tries to think he’s a big, tough guy,’’ Nault said, “but he’s kind of a teddy bear once you get to know him.’’
Nault will benefit from having three returning starters on the line — Trey Buckner, Kaden Jackson and Gaitlin Squires — as well as Newcastle transfer Zac Moore.
“I haven’t taken them out to dinner,’’ Nault said,”but I’m close with all of them. We’re all good friends.’’
His life centers around athletics. His idea of a good time is to work out in the weight room, hang out with friends and watch TV.
“Everybody has the same goal around here,’’ Nault said. “Everybody wants to be the best and win a state championship. That sets us apart. It’s been a good tradition.’’
“The state championship comes first, but playing Division I (college) has been my goal since I was a kid,’’ Nault said.
Emporia State has shown a strong interest. He has gotten feelers from OSU and Texas Tech, but “nothing serious.’’
“If I fit in better at Division 2, that’s where I will end up,’’ he said. “I just want to play.’’