Wagoner shifts lineup for run at state
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Friday, August 17, 2012
8/17/12 at 5:36 AM
For all the football players who never will get a chance to carry the ball, Lateze Clayton is living the dream.
The Wagoner senior was moved from the offensive line to fullback after the coaching staff noticed that he was posting 4.65 times in the 40-yard dash.
Starting center on the Bulldogs' Class 4A state championship team last season, Clayton might receive his first varsity rushing attempt Friday when the Bulldogs host McAlester, Fort Gibson and Coweta for a scrimmage.
"Man, it feels awesome," Clayton said. "I always dreamed of being a receiver or running back. I really just want to score a touchdown."
Clayton's main job will be as a blocking back in the Bulldogs' I-formation scheme. But head coach Dale Condict said the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has a soft pair of hands and could slip out of the backfield occasionally to catch passes.
"He's really looked good for that kind of transition," Condict said. "He starts on our basketball team, so he's pretty athletic."
Clayton said he played fullback and tight end in the seventh grade - before he started "getting bigger" and was typecast as an offensive lineman.
While he relishes the change, he said he would gladly move back to center if it gave the Bulldogs a better chance of repeating as state champs.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we can repeat," he said. "It's deep in the soul of our team and our whole town to repeat."
The Bulldogs lost Tulsa World state player of the year Kevin Peterson and quarterback Taylor Bosco, but return other outstanding personnel.
Linebacker T.J. Ponds totaled 132 tackles last year and rates among the area's best at his position, as does cornerback Kerwin Thomas, who had five interceptions. Tailback Lawrence Evitt had nine rushing TDs.
"The guys we have coming back give us a chance to win again," Condict said. "But when I look at the guys we lost, I know it's going to be tough."
The first hurdle facing the Bulldogs comes in District 4A-3. Catoosa gave Wagoner its only loss last year and returns an army of veterans from a 12-1 team that set a school record for wins and lost to Clinton in double-overtime in the state semifinals.
Catoosa coach Aaron Meier must replace Cole Scheulen and Levi Browning, the rushing tandem that accounted for 3,519 yards and 50 TDs last season.
But Meier returns a two-year starting quarterback (Austin Potter) and a full roster of linemen with starting experience from an offensive unit that averaged 39 points per game.
Junior twins Hunter and Hagen Harrison are heirs apparent in the backfield and are sure tacklers on defense. Hunter Harrison had 105 stops last year.
The Indians have reached the semifinals two years in a row and want to go one step further.
"We realize that seasons like last year don't happen very often," Meier said. "But our kids understand what it takes to get there."
Original Print Headline: Wagoner shifts lineup for run at crown
Mike Brown 918-581-8390
Wagoner players (from left) Lawrence Evitt, Kerwin Thomas, T. J. Ponds and Lateze Clayton are hoping to lead the defending Class 4A champion Bulldogs to the District 4A-3 title. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World