Catoosa loses key seniors, but eager group returns
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Thursday, May 17, 2012
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CATOOSA - When Catoosa's football team hit the practice field this week, a handful of graduating seniors watched from the sideline and volunteered pointers to their replacements.
Last year, those players were part of a core group from the Class of 2012 that helped the Indians finish the regular season undefeated for the first time in 37 years.
Despite the loss of about a dozen seniors, Catoosa has the potential to continue its success this fall.
"A lot of the kids who played last year are back," coach Aaron Meier said. "We still return a lot of experience.
"With the success we had last year, we were able to play a lot of young kids. It's not like they come out and have never been on the field."
The key returner is quarterback Austin Potter, who will be a senior and a third-year starter.
"That makes things a lot easier," Meier said. "Austin's done a great job for us, and we expect even more from him this year."
The majority of the Indians' offensive production in recent years has come from the ground game, and that won't change even without the tandem of Cole Scheulen and Levi Browning, who combined for 50 touchdowns last year.
"We're younger and we definitely have to fill some big shoes," Potter said. "It's going to take some hard work to do that."
Junior-to-be twins Hagen and Hunter Harrison, who were used sporadically last season, are expected to be the team's top rushers in 2012 but will be more of power backs. They also will be starters at linebacker.
For the players who are returning from last year, the crushing way the season ended is still fresh on their minds. In the Class 4A semifinals, Catoosa trailed Clinton 17-7 in the fourth quarter before staging a comeback and then falling 27-24 in double overtime.
"There's no doubt it motivates the kids," their coach said. "It's not something I have to talk about a whole lot.
"They came up a little short. They should have won; the numbers were all there."
Wagoner, which the Indians beat 45-27 in the regular season, went on to capture the state title.
"These boys know we were close, but they also understand what it takes to get back there," Meier said. "That's a lot of time out here, and it's going to take a lot of effort on their part."
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
Catoosa quarterback Austin Potter is part of a group of key returnees from an Indians team that finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in 37 years. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World file
Catoosa's Hunter Harrison celebrates after a fumble recovery last season. Hunter Harrison and twin brother Hagen Harrison are expected to be the team's top rushers this season Tulsa World file