– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
It’s August and it’s time for football season! Over the next three weeks, we’ll have daily content on OKPreps previewing the 2018 football season. We continue our preview series with the 6A-D2 Season Preview. Get a breakdown on all the top contenders, storylines to follow, players and games to watch and who we have making it all the way to the championship game.
Defending Champion/Team To Beat
Booker T Washington Hornets
Booker T Washington added another gold ball to the trophy case last season and they enter this year as the unquestioned team to beat. The Hornets were only tripped up once last season and that came to Louisiana power West Monroe. The rest of the season featured the Hornets beating down teams with a defense that became one of the best in the state. The scary thing for 6A-D2 is that the majority of those playmakers are back. Leading the charge is Dax Hill, a player that is without a doubt the top recruit in Oklahoma and has established himself as one of the top safety prospects in the country. The Hornets also have two stellar playmakers in DJ Jones (an Oklahoma State commit) and Thomas Grayson (a Nebraska commit). The Hornets also feature several players that might not be on everyone’s radar right now but that will change by October. The Hornets will kick off the season in Arkansas against defending 7A champion North Little Rock. Booker T will also travel back to Louisiana to participate in the Border Battle once again. The Hornets will be tested as they go into district play.
Lawton will have a new head coach but a very familiar name. Randy Breeze suddenly resigned in July after leading the Wolverines for 12 seasons. A couple weeks later, the Wolverines would hire Ryan Breeze, Randy’s son, as the next head coach for the Wolverine program. Before last season with Midwest City, Lawton had been the only team on the west side to have any kind of success since the split in Class 6A. The Wolverines might have a new man in charge but you shouldn’t expect much to change about this ball club. The Wolverines have always had one of the top rushing attacks in Oklahoma and that will remain the same with the return of running back Miles Davis. It appears that the majority of top teams in 6A-D2 are over on the west side, but more on that later. So the road to a possible state championship game becomes more bumpy for programs like Lawton. However, one thing is for sure, year in and year out, you have to consider the Wolverines as a top contender for going after the gold ball.
Midwest City Bombers
Midwest City took the next step last year and finally got out of the first round. They battled Bixby close in the semifinals but fell short of the championship game. This year, the Bombers will rely on the return of quarterback Preston Colbert to lead the charge. Before last season, Midwest City would rely on their defense to keep them in games and in some cases, win games. That was before. Now, the Bombers have one of the top offenses in the state and Colbert has a lot to do with that. The addition of Paul Hix as offensive coordinator cannot be overlooked as the Bombers turned into a serious threat under his guidance. The defense will always be one of the best in the state but this season, the offense might end up having more firepower. The Bombers are hungry to not only make it back to the playoffs but to finally contend for a state championship. They were close last season and come into 2018 with some unfinished business to take care of.
The Stillwater Pioneers returned with some firepower last season. They finished off the year 8-3 and had some marquee moments on the way. They enter the 2018 campaign with very high expectations with the return of so many talented players. It all starts with the quarterback and Gunnar Gundy comes back for his junior season. Gundy is going to be sharing the spotlight in the Stillwater backfield with sophomore running back Qwontrell Walker. The Pioneer running back was an instant impact player for Stillwater as a freshman and will look to elevate his game this fall. Stillwater has been playing third fiddle to Lawton and Midwest City in the west side district over the last four years. This year, they look to turn the page and truly contend for a district title. A district title or at the very least finishing second, would give Stillwater a home playoff game and that’s something that has Pioneer fans very excited. If 8-3 last year was the “growing pains” season for a young team, watch out for what they do this fall.
Del City Eagles
Del City moves up from 5A to 6A-D2 football this fall and could end up being a team that surprises throughout the 2018 season. It’s always difficult for a team to move up and be a contender but it certainly helps when you have talent. That’s what Del City has as they return some of the best skill players in 6A-D2 football. However, the Eagles are in an absolutely brutal district. Just to punch their ticket to the playoffs, they’re going to have to perform each and every week. And with Lawton, Midwest City and Stillwater all reloaded, the Eagles are going to have to beat one or two of those teams to avoid having to potentially face defending champion Booker T Washington in the first round. So the odds seem stacked against the Eagles. But that’s what makes a team a darkhorse. Right now, it doesn’t seem promising, but the Eagles are more than capable of pulling off an upset or two and rocking the boat in their first season in 6A-D2.
Storylines To Follow
Bixby In Unfamiliar Territory
We’ve talked about the team to beat and the top contenders in 6A-D2 and you might be thinking that we’re forgetting about someone. The Bixby Spartans won the first three state championships since 6A-D2 became a class. They also returned to the title game for a fourth straight year a season ago. However, coming into this season, the Spartans find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Ironically enough, they’ll be playing the role of the underdog this year. With district rival Booker T Washington the reigning champs and so many talented teams out west, Bixby is somewhat flying under the radar. While it might be an unfamiliar feeling, you can guarantee that it’ll be something that Bixby embraces and takes advantage of.
Bomber Magic Resurgence Continues
Going back to when Class 6A was split into two separate divisions, assumptions were made about which schools would emerge as powers. Midwest City was one of the first schools mentioned as a team that would flourish in the new 6A-D2. However, from 2014-2016, the Bombers were a combined 0-7 against eastside competition and had lost in the first round each year. That was until last year. That was until Paul Hix and Preston Colbert got together and the Bombers turned into one of the best offenses in 6A football. In 2017, the Bombers beat Muskogee and Sand Springs. And they lost two very competitive games with Bixby and eventual champion Booker T Washington. They look to take the next step this fall.
Power Shift Staying In The West
Since the split in Class 6A, both divisions have been owned by the Tulsa-area schools. When 6A was split, it was widely believed that at least in Division 2, we would see some parity and some teams from the westside competing for titles. Before last year, other than Lawton, that wasn’t the case. Before last year, other than Lawton, westside teams were winless in playoff games against eastside opponents. Midwest City finally broke through last year with a semifinal appearance. And as we head into this season, it appears that the power in D2 football, with the exception of Booker T Washington, is going to be on the westside. Lawton, Midwest City and Stillwater can all make legitimate cases that they’re championship-caliber teams.
Players To Watch
Anthony Bland – Wide Receiver – Stillwater
He still hasn’t played one down of high school football in Oklahoma. However, Stillwater’s Anthony Bland absolutely torched California defenses last fall. The sophomore adds a home run threat to the Pioneer offense that already returns plenty of weapons. The QB-WR duo of Gunnar Gundy and Anthony Bland could end up being one of the best 1-2 punches in the state.
Miles Davis – Running Back – Lawton
At this point, we can’t be surprised that Lawton had another breakout star at the running back position. Miles Davis is just the latest in a long line of star running backs a Lawton. However, Davis was incredibly special last year. Davis ran for nearly 2,500 yards and eclipsed 100 yards in every game and had at least 200 yards in six games, including 297 yards in the season opener.
Preston Colbert – Quarterback – Midwest City
This time last year, we had Midwest City’s Preston Colbert as a Player To Watch and talked about his potential for a breakout season. He would combine for 50 touchdowns as the Bombers made it all the way to the semifinals. Colbert will look to pick right up where he left off last season and bring Midwest City a long-awaited state championship this fall.
Quinlan Ganther – Quarterback – Del City
Maybe it’s just a Mid-Del thing. Last year, we had Midwest City’s Colbert as a potential breakout star. This year, we’re not going very far. Del City’s Quinlan Ganther came on strong last fall as a sophomore. Going into his junior season, Ganther could end up having a Colbert-like season. If that happens, the Eagles will be a true contender as they move up from 5A to 6A-D2.
Thomas Grayson – Running Back – Booker T Washington
Take your pick when it comes to a player to watch from Booker T Washington. There isn’t really a wrong answer. However, we’re going with the running back Thomas Grayson. With a new quarterback being worked into the lineup, Grayson will have plenty of opportunities early on in the season to provide some fireworks. And the Nebraska commit has the ability to do just that.
Mark Your Calendars
August 24 – Jenks AT Bixby
Bixby knocked off the Trojans for the first time in forty years last season. They will attempt to start a streak of their own this year when they host their rivals. Jenks will have a new coach leading the charge and Bixby will have plenty of new faces of their own. This used to be a one-sided rivalry but the last two years were closer to a toss up when these two squared off.
August 31 – Midwest City AT Carl Albert
This is without a doubt one of the best rivalry games and should be incredibly competitive when these two line up against one another. Carl Albert is coming off their first undefeated season in school history. Midwest City has championship aspirations of their own. While they’re in different classes and this game doesn’t have an impact on the rest of the season, bragging rights will surely be on the line.
September 15 – Mustang AT Stillwater
If Stillwater is truly going to take that next step this year and become a championship contender, this is a game the Pioneers need to win. Mustang is a strong 6A-D1 team and has a stout defense. If the Pioneers and their offense can have success against the Broncos, that will give them plenty of momentum heading into an extremely competitive district.
September 21 – Lawton AT Midwest City
Before each season, you just circle when Lawton and Midwest City will square off. The winner of this game will have the leg up on becoming the district champion. Even though they’re playing in the first week of district play, the winner here will still be in the driver’s seat. Both teams have explosive offenses. Midwest City has a fantastic passing attack while Lawton will counter with the ground-game.
September 28 – Booker T Washington AT Bixby
Similar to the Lawton-Midwest City match-up, this one has turned into quite the rivalry since Class 6A was split into two divisions. Most years, this game decides the district championship and this year might not be any different. The defending champion Hornets dethroned Bixby and ended their run of three straight state championships in last year’s state title game.
Prediction For Title Game
Booker T Washington VS Midwest City
One of the picks here is extremely easy at this point. Booker T Washington dominated on their way to the state championship a year ago. They bring back the majority of those playmakers. What’s not to like about the Hornets in 2018? They’ll play a very tough non-district schedule but that has always been the case and they won’t back down from competition. As long as they stay healthy, they’re the favorites for a reason. Now the other side of the match-up could end up going a lot of different ways. However, we believe that the Bombers from Midwest City will indeed take the next step and make it to the state championship game. Once they’re there, they’ll renew their rivalry with Booker T Washington. These two teams have played each other in the non-district in each of the last four years. This is the first year that they will not play one another. However, it should be noted that in the last four years, the Hornets are 4-0 in those meetings.
Be sure and listen to the OKPreps 6A-D2 Preview Podcast to find out who we think will be taking home the gold ball in November.
August 2nd: Preseason Rankings
August 3rd: Preseason All State Team
August 4th: Class 6A-D1 Preview
August 5th: Class 6A D1 Preview Podcast
Today: Class 6A D2 Preview
August 7th: Class 6A-D2 Preview Podcast
August 8th: Class 5A Preview
August 9th: Class 5A Preview Podcast
August 10th: Class 4A Preview
August 11th: Class 4A Preview Podcast
August 12th: Class 3A Preview
August 13th: Class 3A Preview Podcast
August 14th: Class 2A Preview
August 15th: Class 2A Preview Podcast
August 16th: Class A Preview
August 17th: Class A Preview Podcast
August 18th: Top Out Of State Games