THOMAS, Okla. — Thomas will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2019 as the Terriers go for their 10th straight playoff appearance.
Senior Dylan Castillo, who scored three touchdowns and had 52 receiving yards and rushed for another 60 will be taking the reins of a Thomas offense that averaged 29.1 points per game last season.
“I think he will do well,’’ said Thomas coach Bob Ward. “He has been with us since junior high. He has a really strong arm.’’
How well the Terriers protect the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Castillo could hold the key to the season.
Thomas returns two starting linemen in Aden Kelley, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior and Camden Billy, a 5-foot-10, 230-pound sophomore. Alex Kluckner, a 210-pound senior, is another candidate for playing time.
Kelley has drawn interest from both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and will be counted on to provide leadership.
“He’s pretty good,’’ Ward said. “We’re going to have several young guys who are going to have key spots for us there. How well we come along in the offensive line will determine how well we do.’’
The Terriers, the back-to-back state Class A state track champions, will have “quite a bit of speed.’’
“We typically rely on the run,’’ Ward said. “We’re hoping that we can spread the ball enough to give everybody some touches.’’
Ethan Hamberlin, a 150-pound junior running back, is the top offensive returnee. He rushed for 692 yards on 105 carries last season and scored 11 touchdowns.
“We’re going to try to ease our quarterback into it by relying on the running game,’’ Ward said. “We hope we can take the pressure off him by being able to run the ball.’’
Hamberlin is known for his quickness.
“He’s a pretty shifty type of guy,’’ Ward said.
The Terriers return two starting wide receivers in Noah Rainwater, a 155-pound junior and Jaxen Mannering, a 150-pound junior. Caleb Fernandez, a 155-pound junior, should get some touches as both a runner and a receiver.
“We run a lot of jet sweeps,’’ Ward said. “We run a spread offense. All of our receivers have a tendency to touch the ball.’’
Fernandez is the team’s leading returning tackler. He had 104 stops from his linebacker spot a year ago.
Kelley had 95 tackles in the Terriers’ 3-5-3 defense.
Jayce Miller, a 5-9, 150-pound junior, had 57 tackles from his middle linebacker spot, while Rainwater had 52 from his linebacker spot.
The Terriers allowed an average of 15.6 points per game in the regular season.
“We feel like we will run to the ball pretty well,’’ Ward said. “Last year we gave up some big plays that hurt us. We have to be more consistent to limit the big plays. We were inconsistent as a team last season. This year we need to be more consistent.’’
Thomas was third in A-1 last season, losing to Hooker, 21-13 and state semifinalist Fairview, 22-7. They fell to state runner-up Christian Heritage, 42-36 in the second round of the playoffs.
District A-1 has undergone some major changes this season with Okeene and Beaver dropping down to 8-man. That means the Terriers will play only five district games.
They beat the three other returning district teams — Oklahoma Bible Academy, 40-7; Mooreland, 28-8 and Texhoma, 28-6.
Ward sees Hooker and Fairview as the teams to beat in the district.
“You don’t have as much room for error in a small district like this,’’ Ward said. “I guess mathematically that decreases the number of wins you need to get into the playoffs, but it still makes it tough.’’
The Terriers were able to replace Okeene and Beaver with Merritt and 2A Perry. Thomas opens the season Aug. 30 with Merritt.