Overstreet hopeful for young Pioneer squad

Pioneer's Cal Dennett (9) and Ty Dennett (3) discuss a play with Mustangs' head coach Gus Overstreet during the prep 5-on-5 showcase June 1 at the Stride Bank Center. (Bonnie Vculek / Enid News & Eagle)

WAUKOMIS, Okla. — It's been a little over a month since Pioneer wrapped up its spring football practices, but head coach Gus Overstreet and the Mustangs are still focused on preparing for the upcoming fall season.

There's plenty of work to be done after graduating a handful of seniors, including two-year starting quarterback Layken Young and 2018 All-Northwest Oklahoma 8-man Player of the Year Z.J. Washington.

"We're going to be young," Overstreet said. "A lot of kids are going to have to step up and play like older kids."

After the two-week stint of spring practices, a team camp at Pond Creek-Hunter and a 5-on-5 tournament at the Stride Bank Center, Overstreet is impressed with how the new combination of Mustangs are taking shape.

The sixth-year head coach is used to having about eight to 10 seniors each season. So far, there's only two signed up for next season.

"It's going to be a little bit different," he said.

A sizable void will be left on the offensive side of the ball with the departure of Washington. The star running back rushed for 2,120 yards and 31 touchdowns for Pioneer last season. Much of Washington's production came during the Mustangs' seven-game win streak after an 0-4 start.

Although Washington's skill set will be missed, Overstreet is confident Pioneer can adjust.

"We're going to try and attack the edge more," Overstreet said. "I don't think we're going to be able to run up the middle because we're not going to have a big physical back like Z.J. (Washington) was. We're going to be OK."

Overstreet said he expects the Mustangs' offense to be split at about 75 percent run and 25 percent pass.

Pioneer will still have a Washington in the backfield with Z.J.'s younger brother Marzell Washington assuming the majority of carries. According to Overstreet, Marzell, a junior, isn't as big as his older brother, but his smaller size makes him a bit more elusive.

"If he can ever get around the edge, he's going to be hard to catch," Overstreet said. "He does a real good job getting down the field and getting up the sidelines."

Despite an offensive line made up of sophomores and juniors, Overstreet is optimistic the group has enough size to be effective. By the start of the 2019 season, the line could average near 240 pounds per player.

That average could depend on how much weight junior Jacob Smith is able to put back on after he lost more than 30 pounds while he was sick with mono this past winter.

"He's a hoss," Overstreet said. "He's just one of those farm kids that you're glad is on the team."

Replacing Young under center is junior Ty Dennett. So far this spring, Overstreet is impressed with how Dennett has stepped up and taken over the role as the leader of the offense.

At the 5-on-5 tournament at the Stride Bank Center on June 1, Dennett showed maturity and poise when moving the ball down the field.

"I always tell him if it's not there, overthrow it," Overstreet said. "He did that. He overthrew it. He made sure that it wasn't going to be an interception. He lived for the next play."

Dennett has a close connection with one of the Pioneer receivers. His twin brother Cal is a "speedster" in the open field, according to Overstreet. He expects the duo to work well together in the passing game.

"It's one of those things — the twins — I just think they know where they are without even looking," Overstreet said.

Pioneer is nearing the end of its summer workouts. The Mustangs participated in a passing league at Covington-Douglas Thursday and will return there again Monday to close things out.

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Nagel is a sports reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. He can be reached at cnagel@enidnews.com.

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