– 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 5A 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
Carl Albert Titans
The Carl Albert Titans captured back to back state championships and are the favorites once again going into the 2018 season. Mike Corley took over for the legendary Gary Rose and the Titans didn’t miss a step. While the Titans added another gold ball to the growing trophy case, they also made history. Carl Albert had their first ever undefeated season in school history. The Titans have to find some new playmakers but they return quarterback Ben Harris and star running back Dadrion “Rabbit” Taylor. Harris was a pleasant surprise for Carl Albert when he stepped in as a freshman and was one of the top passers in Oklahoma. The Titans plan on reloading and gunning after another state championship. As of right now, it’s hard to put another team in 5A football as the team to beat until someone knocks off the two-time state champs.
Year after year you have to put Ardmore on this list as a top contender in 5A football. They have put together an unbelievable history of winning records and playoff runs. However, they’re still missing that next step and truly contending for a state championship. Ardmore’s first problem has always been navigating the district. In the last few years, it featured Altus, Del City and Lawton Mac, all of which were top ten quality teams. Del City is now in 6A-D2 and Ardmore appears to be the top dog in the district. Bringing back a wealth of talent will also put the Tigers ahead this fall. Led by Tero Roberts, one of the most versatile athletes in Oklahoma, the Tigers’ option attack is going to be very difficult to slow down. If Ardmore gets out to a fast start and can capture the district crown, that will set them up for a deep run in the playoffs once again.
Bishop McGuinness Irish
Bishop McGuinness is getting tired of ending the season with a silver-colored trophy. This year, they look to bring home another trophy, only it has to be gold. The Irish have been right there with Carl Albert and have built quite the entertaining rivalry over the last two years. This year, the Irish may look just a tad bit different. Longtime head coach Justin Jones is now the head coach at Norman North. The Irish promoted longtime assistant Bryan Pierce to be the next man in charge. All eyes will be on the Irish backfield as Dominic Richardson returns after a breakout 2017 season. While most eyes will look at the talented junior on offense, the Irish also feature a talented junior in Brynden Walker, who was used in a variety of ways. However, his abilities to rush the passer as a defensive end have us excited to see what he can do this fall.
Over the last five years, you can make the argument that Collinsville has had one of the more talented programs in 5A football. However, injuries have limited what Collinsville could truly accomplish. The 2017 season was a great example of that. The Cardinals had several talented young players that ended up getting banged up throughout the season. However, the calendar has turned and those players are now a year older and more importantly, they’re back to 100%. Class 5A has been dominated by the westside of the state, but more on that in a little bit. Collinsville has a legitimate shot to bring some balance back to 5A football this year. They have a tough running back in Jake Tuttle and one of the top overall recruits in Grayson Boomer. That 1-2 punch on offense could end up providing fireworks for the Cardinals this fall.
No other team fits the role of a darkhorse quite like Edison. The Eagles have been building towards a potential run this season. The win-loss record hasn’t been all that impressive over the last few seasons but this year they could turn the corner. The Eagles bring back one of their more talented teams that we’ve seen in recent memory. With so many starters returning and some very talented players, the Eagles could not only turn their fortunes around but find their way into the playoffs with some key victories along the way. They’re in a tough district that is going to be difficult to navigate and earn one of the four playoff spots. But the Eagles should be very capable of contending for one of those spots.
Storylines To Follow
Carl Albert-McGuinness Rivalry Continues
Without a doubt the biggest storyline heading into the 2018 season is whether or not the Bishop McGuinness-Carl Albert rivalry will reach Trilogy levels. The Irish and the Titans have not only squared off in the regular season but the Titans have gotten the best of the Irish in the last two state championship games. Both teams have some stars to replace off last year’s team but the expectations will remain the same in both programs. Both teams are in the process of making plans to compete for a state title in late November. And the fact that Carl Albert has been able to get the best of the Irish in both title games has thrown more fuel on the fire here. The Irish believe that if they didn’t have an injury-plagued roster, they would have captured last year’s gold ball.
Who Will Be This Year’s Breakout Star
One of the players to watch in the Class 5A Preview is Bishop McGuinness running back Dominic Richardson. And from the first time we saw Richardson during some scrimmages, it was apparent that the Irish had a star in the making with the sophomore running back. Richardson would go on to run for over 2,000 yards but have his season cut short to a leg injury. So as we look towards this season, the question has to be asked. Who will end up being this year’s version of Dominic Richardson? It doesn’t have to be another running back but it very well could end up being one. Someone is primed to have a breakout season, it’s not a matter of when, but who becomes this year’s breakout star.
Who’s The Beast Of The East
In the last two years, 5A football has largely been decided by teams from the westside of the state. In 2016, all four semifinal teams were from the westside. Last year, three of the four semifinal teams were from the westside. Not to mention the fact that we’ve had the same championship game match-up in each of the last two years. So the question has to be asked. Will we see a team from the east emerge as a serious championship contender this fall? Collinsville appears to be the most talented team but they have to avoid injuries. Coweta brings back plenty of talent but it’s been a while since the Tigers have made a deep playoff run. Then you have Bishop Kelley and Skiatook, who have been strong but have several question marks heading into this year.
Players To Watch
Dadrion “Rabbit” Taylor – Running Back – Carl Albert
Carl Albert’s resident rabbit was on this list at this time last year. He was coming off a stellar sophomore season but he took his game to the next level last year. Now as we head into his senior season, Taylor will have more asked of him after the graduation of star Jason Taylor II. Taylor is without a doubt one of the biggest game-changing running backs in Oklahoma.
Dominic Richardson – Running Back – Bishop McGuinness
Bishop McGuinness running back Dominic Richardson was one of the biggest breakout stars from the 2017 season. In nine games, Richardson ran for over 2,000 yards before losing his sophomore season to injury in the season finale. Richardson should be ready to go for the start of the 2018 season. If that’s the case, the Irish will once again be one of the best teams in 5A.
Grayson Boomer – Tight End – Collinsville
Collinsville has high expectations as they head into the 2018 season. A big reason is tight end Grayson Boomer, one of the top prospects in Oklahoma’s 2019 class. However, in order for Collinsville to meet those expectations, Boomer will have to remain healthy. After an injury-plagued 2017, Boomer is excited to get back on the field and competing for a state title.
Jayden Garner – Athlete – Skiatook
Skiatook has established themselves as one of the top teams in 5A football. However, with the graduation of TK Wilkerson, the Bulldogs will be looking for a new playmaker. That search won’t last long as Jayden Garner is a dynamic player who can end up being a variety of things for the Bulldogs. Regardless of where Skiatook puts Garner, expect for some fireworks to pop off.
Tero Roberts – Athlete – Ardmore
Ardmore’s option attack was captained by quarterback Tero Roberts. Ardmore’s versatile playmaker was a star at quarterback and corner for the Tigers last year. Whether it’s on offense or defense, Roberts has to be accounted for at all times if you’re squaring off with the Tigers. Ardmore is determined to take the next step this fall and Roberts will be a big reason for that.
Mark Your Calendars
August 31 – Coweta AT Wagoner
The storylines write themselves in the annual battle between Highway 51 rivals. Wagoner will be attempting to start a new winning streak after their state record 48 straight wins was snapped in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Coweta is hungry to truly become a contender with a team full of returning starters. Coweta had Wagoner on the ropes last year and will attempt to finish the job.
September 7 – Bishop McGuinness AT Bishop Kelley
We continue the rivalry theme with one of the best rivalries in 5A football right now. The Bishop Battle is always one of the best games and the Shillelagh is one of the best “trophies” awarded to the winner. The Irish have gotten the best of the Comets recently but it won’t be easy for McGuinness to travel to Tulsa and get a win. Kelley is determined to reverse their fortune.
September 28 – Altus AT Ardmore
Don’t show up late to this game or you might miss it. Both teams are going to want to run the football in their option offenses. While it might still be early in the season, the winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat to bring home the district title. Lawton MacArthur will also have something to say about that. However, the winner here will have plenty of momentum on their side.
October 26 – Skiatook AT Collinsville
We’ve already written about how Collinsville has the talent but they need to stay healthy. These teams will square off in week nine and the Cardinals will hopefully still be healthy. If that’s the case, this game could end up deciding the district champion. Skiatook has turned into somewhat of a power in 5A on the eastside. If the Cardinals contend for a title, step one is beating Skiatook.
November 2 – Carl Albert AT Bishop McGuinness
Talk about saving the best for last. In the final week of the regular season, Carl Albert will go on the road and take on Bishop McGuinness. This has been the match-up in the 5A title game in each of the last two seasons. And while they’re each looking to return to the title game, they’ll more than likely be squaring off for the district title in the final week of the regular season.
Prediction For Title Game
Carl Albert VS Collinsville
Class 5A as it stands right now is extremely wide open. Carl Albert is your two-time defending state champs and they’ve earned their due respect. However, who’s going to meet them in the state championship game? It very well could be Bishop McGuinness for a third time. However, we’re going with Collinsville making their second trip to the title game in the last four seasons. We’ve talked about it plenty that the Cardinals have to remain healthy to reach their full potential. But if they aren’t slowed down by nagging injuries, they’re one of the more talented teams in the state. And then when you’re looking at Carl Albert, it’s understood that they have some pieces to replace but they still have the best QB/RB duo in 5A football, giving them a leg up on the competition. However, as we’ve learned over the last few years, the landscape of 5A football could be much different in just a few short months.
Be sure and listen to the OKPreps 5A 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
August 6th: Class 6A D2 Preview
August 7th: Class 6A-D2 Preview Podcast
Today: 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