The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

July 27, 2013

It’s hot, it’s July, and it’s football time

It’s late July, temps are approaching triple digits in Oklahoma, which can only mean one thing: It’s football season. Well, OK, it’s always football season in Oklahoma, but now with local baseball completed, the focus really shifts to the gridiron.

So, while the first official practices aren’t until Aug. 12,  let’s whet our appetites a bit and take a quick look at some early prep football storylines to keep an eye on:

• Enid. The Plainsmen came within three points of finishing 5-5 last season instead of 3-7 in Steve Chard’s first year. Heartbreaking late losses to Bartlesville (44-42) and Ponca City (21-20) kept the Plainsmen on the wrong side of .500.

The Plainsmen will be looking to replace their record-setting tailback Seth Handley (East Central), while also breaking in a new signal-caller. Can the Plainsmen put it all together in Chard’s second year and make a run for their first playoff berth since 2009? Enid’s first scrimmage is a six-way Aug. 23 at Bixby. They open the season on the road Sept. 6 at Choctaw, a team they beat 41-12 in last season’s opener.

• Chisholm: The Longhorns had a turnaround season in head coach Joey Reinart’s fourth year. Reinart entered 2012 with a 4-26 mark at CHS and the Longhorns had lost 19 of their last 20 entering last season. But the Longhorns surprised nearly everybody and finished the campaign at 5-5.

Can they keep it going and possibly turn in their first winning season since going 6-5 in 2002? Like Enid, the Longhorns will be looking to a new QB as they will need to replace Tabor Charles, who signed with Redlands to play baseball. CHS opens the season on Sept. 5 at home against Oklahoma Bible Academy.

• Hennessey. Rick Luetjen begins his second season in charge at Hennessey and expectations were a bit high last year with many folks expecting the Eagles to waltz to a third straight 2A state title. The Eagles fell short, falling 43-13 in the quarterfinals to Vian, but still went 10-3.

Hennessey does have the advantage of a returning quarterback in senior Dillon Hatchel, but will have to replace top rusher Levi Hill. Making the playoffs is expected in Hennessey, it’s a question of how far the Eagles will advance. Hennessey opens the season at Christian Heritage.

• Kingfisher. Head coach Jeff Myers, now entering his 10th season, has made the Yellowjackets into perennial playoff contenders. Kingfisher finished as 3A runner-up last season with a heartbreaking 28-21 loss to Blanchard. It was Kingfisher’s third runner-up finish in four years.

The Jackets may be one of the favorites again with game-changing tailback Landon Nault returning for his senior season. Playing in a tough district that includes Heritage Hall and Newkirk, can the Jackets make another return trip to the finals and get the runner-up monkey off their back? Kingfisher opens the season Sept. 6 at Guymon.

• Pond Creek-Hunter. The Panthers would likely be defending state champions if not for Laverne, which handed PC-H its only two losses in 2012, including a 50-19 loss in the Class B title game.

For the Panthers to make it back to the title game in head coach David Kerr’s 15th season, they are going to have to overcome the loss of all-everything Brady Krittenbrink, the 2012 Enid News & Eagle 8-man player of the year, who is heading to NEO and will get a taste of 11-man ball when he appears in the All-State football game Friday in Tulsa.

PC-H opens its season at home Sept. 5 against DCLA.

Need more? Hang in there. We will be previewing all of the area teams in-depth in our upcoming preseason preview magazine.

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Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at http://enidnews.smugmug.com.