– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
Defending Champion/Team To Beat
The Bixby Spartans are the only team that has been fortunate enough to lift 6A-D2 gold. The Spartans come into the 2017 season with the montra “Back 4 More”. As in they’re looking for a fourth gold ball to add to their growing trophy case. The Spartans have to break in a new quarterback in Staton King, but have a wealth of experience everywhere else. The Spartans bolster one of, if not the top offensive lines in the state. And the defense is led by All State linebacker Coby Tillman.
Booker T Washington
It’s year two for Brad Calip at the helm of the Booker T Washington program. The Hornets are hungrier than ever to make it to the state title game, something they haven’t been able to do since they were in 5A. The Hornets have the majority of their starters returning. That includes the top prospect in Oklahoma’s 2019 class in safety Dax Hill, the younger brother of former BTW standout Justice Hill.
Similar to Booker T Washington, Midwest City goes into every year expecting to compete for state championships. However, the Bombers have yet to make it to the title game. That could change this season. The Bombers have a lot of skill coming back on the offensive side of the ball. Everyone knows how talented the Bombers are on defense, but the offense will make or break the Bombers in 2017.
Putnam City hasn’t been considered a contender in football for quite some time. That should change in 2017 as the Pirates have some solid players returning on both sides of the ball. The Pirates have the state’s best defensive line with Ron Tatum III and Collin Clay. Both are among the top prospects in the state for their respective classes. The Pirates also return quarterback AJ Newsome, who had a strong sophomore campaign.
If the shoe fits…It seems like every year, Sand Springs is the darkhorse in 6A-D2, and the 2017 season will be no different. The Sandites aren’t as flashy as some of the other teams in the class but they don’t need to be. What Sand Springs does works. If the Sandites are going to make it back to the title game for the second time in three years, they’ll rely heavily on running back Payton Scott.
Storylines To Follow
Bixby Turning Into A Dynasty
It’s no secret at this point, Bixby has owned Class 6A-D2. They’ve won titles in different ways during their run of dominance. Whether it was winning as the favorite or winning after barely making the playoffs. The Spartans win in November and December. The Spartans are once again the #1 team in 6A-D2 and are the preseason pick to win their fourth consecutive state championship. That would put the Spartans in elite company as one of only a few programs that have captured four consecutive state championships. It’s safe to say with the program that Loren Montgomery has elevated at Bixby that we’re looking at the next dynasty in high school football. That is until the Spartans eventually move up to 6A-D1, and that move is coming sooner than later.
Bomber Magic Revival
Everyone is waiting for Midwest City to kick down the doors on Class 6A-D2. They were a contender when 6A featured 32 teams, now that it’s just 15, they should be one of the favorites. However, since the split in 6A, the Bombers haven’t had the success that many predicted three years ago. In fact, the season has ended in painful fashion in each of the last three years. The Bombers have been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round and another first round exit will be very unsatisfactory. The Bombers have always had the talent as far as college prospects and once again they have it. They’re led by linebacker Jalen Redmond, who is the top linebacker prospect in the state. Most eyes will be on the talented prospects on the defense, but the offense has the talent to put up points.
Will #1 Be A Revolving Door?
It’s been documented already that 2016 was pretty wild in Class 6A-D2. Especially when you would see the rankings shift at the top week after week. Several teams spent significant time as the number one team and considered the favorite to win the state title. A big storyline without a doubt will be if we see that same anarchy reign again. The chances are we won’t see the upsets that grabbed headlines last year. 6A-D2 is once again loaded and the top teams are going to flex their muscles throughout the season. However, when they go head to head, we’ll get a very good idea on who the real contenders are when the playoffs roll around. The top teams will have to face off in district play during the season. If we see history repeat itself, it’ll make for another entertaining regular season.
Players To Watch
Dominick Neal – Wide Receiver – Lawton
Lawton’s Dominick Neal is one half of a very explosive wide receiver duo for the Lawton Wolverines. He and Jay’Quan Lincoln will help a Lawton offense that has to introduce several new starters. The Wolverines have made two out of the last three state title games but have finished runner up both times. Neal has the playmaking ability to score at any time when the ball is in his hands.
Preston Colbert – Quarterback – Midwest City
Midwest City junior quarterback Preston Colbert has the chance to really have a breakout season this fall. He has one season under his belt as the starting quarterback. In the past, the Bombers have been carried by their defense while the offense has struggled. That could change this fall. Colbert is an accurate passer who has experienced linemen and speedy skill guys around him.
Ron Tatum III – Defensive End – Putnam City
The state’s top defensive lineman is none other than Putnam City defensive end Ron Tatum III. The Oklahoma commit registered nearly 10 sacks last year as a junior and will be a serious problem for opposing offensive lines this fall. Tatum is one half of the state’s best pass-rushing duo with Collin Clay. Tatum is the type of player that offenses will need to know where he is at all times.
Rylan McQuarters – Athlete – Booker T Washington
The only other thing Rylan McQuarters could do for Booker T Washington would be to sell popcorn at halftime. The Hornet standout first burst onto the scene as a sophomore, becoming one of the top return specialists in the state. McQuarters also became one of the Tulsa area’s top cornerbacks. This fall, McQuarters will get the majority of the carries at running back.
Tucker Pawley – Running Back – Bixby
The three-time champion Spartans are breaking in a new quarterback but they have a workhorse returning at running back. Tucker Pawley helped lead Bixby to their third straight state title a year ago. He ran for over 2,000 yards in his first full season as the starter. Pawley is also a very serious threat out of the backfield in the passing game. A lot of the Spartan offense will go through Pawley.
Mark Your Calendars
September 1 – Midwest City AT Booker T Washington
Ever since the split in Class 6A, these two talent-rich programs have met every season. So far, it’s been all Hornets as Booker T Washington has won three straight meetings against the Bombers. Both are among the top in the state once again. This will be the second game for both.
September 14 – Bixby AT Putnam City
Putnam City has the talent to be a top contender in 6A-D2 this year. However, right now, that’s just talk and projections. We’re going to find out early on how good this Pirate team can be. They’ll welcome three-time champion Bixby to OKC in week three. Pull off the win and the Pirates will turn plenty of heads.
September 22 – Midwest City AT Lawton
These two teams have dominated the westside district since the split in Class 6A. Lawton has won two district titles while the Bombers won in 2015. While they meet early in the season, it’s no secret that district supremacy is on the line. The two teams are once again the best in the west this year.
October 13 – Muskogee AT Sand Springs
Muskogee returned to prominence in 2016 with a great season. The Roughers will look to continue that this year. Sand Springs has been one of the constant contenders in 6A-D2. Last year, the Sandites stunned the Roughers with a miraculous two-point conversion with six seconds left.
October 27 – Booker T Washington AT Bixby
The top two teams in the preseason rankings won’t meet until week nine, if both teams are still at the top of the rankings then, the district title will more than likely be up for grabs. The last time the Hornets went to Bixby, they blew out the Spartans as Justice Hill ran for nearly 200 yards.
Prediction For Title Game With Champion
Bixby Over Booker T Washington
They meet at the end of the regular season and it will more than likely decide a district champion. We think that these two teams will meet again a little over a month later with a state championship on the line. They’re the top two teams in the preseason rankings for a reason with so much talent for both teams. Bixby has been here and done that. They’ve won the last three consecutive state championships and have plenty of key players returning for a run at a fourth. Booker T Washington has been one of the top teams in the class but they have yet to make it to that state championship game. We think this year is the year that it happens. We think the regular season meeting will be a good preview of what we’ll see in December. But the Spartans have too much firepower once again.