Sandites aim to turn close games in their favor next season
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
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Dustin Kinard knows his team can compete with some of the state's best, even if the outcome isn't always in Sand Springs' favor.
Last year, the Sandites finished 3-7, but five losses were by seven points or fewer, including a 38-37 heartbreaker at Stillwater and a 47-44 defeat to Owasso.
"We can play with everybody," Kinard said. "Even (state champion) Union, it was 40-20, and that's not blown out."
Sand Springs went through an 80-play spring game Friday, and Kinard said he likes the progress the team is making.
"I tell my kids every day, 'We'll be good once we start competing for a spot on the team instead of just showing up - yeah, I'm the quarterback; yeah, I'm the O-lineman,' " the coach said.
"Once we've got competition among ourselves, we'll know we're going to be competing at the state level."
The Sandites return six offensive players, but the biggest question mark remains at quarterback. Gone is Darrack Harger, who started for the past two years and signed with Pittsburg State.
Cody Hale and Ethan Reeder are competing for the starting job after contributing at receiver last year.
"They both have had some time at quarterback and are trying to battle it out," Kinard said. "The hardest thing to replace is going to be the game experience."
Whoever doesn't win the role as starter will play receiver, along with two-year starter Cody Hilderbrandt.
Sand Springs also returns a pair of talented tailbacks, Raymond McLaurin and Richard Dehart, and the ground game will be an emphasis.
"They're just bigger and stronger, just maturity," their coach said. "Hopefully our offense will be 50 percent run, 50 percent pass, and if that's the case, that means we're having some success."
The offensive and defensive lines are a major concern, and the defense returns only four starters, led by defensive backs Myron Patrick, Zack Youngblood and linebacker Alec Roberts.
With the addition of Booker T. Washington, District 6A-1 will feature some big challenges for the Sandites as they try to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the program's only winning season in 14 years.
"We're on the right track here," Kinard said. "The kids are working hard."
Original Print Headline: Competition key for Sandites
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
Sand Springs' Ty Barnes blocks Bixby's Josh McGlothlin as Raymond McLaurin makes a gain last season. The Sandites suffered numerous close losses last season. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file