High school football: Move up a downer for Edison
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2012
8/26/12 at 5:55 AM
2012 High School Football Preview: Everything you need to get ready for the 2012 season.
Original Print Headline: Move to 6A challenges Edison
All four schools represented in this special section's cover story go into the season moving into a higher classification with realistic hopes of a deep playoff run due to confidence gained by past success.
Another area school is making a big move up - Edison, which will be in Class 6A for the first time. However, the Eagles don't have a history of recent success to help catapult them.
Edison is 7-53 over the past six years. Edison does have a coach, Chris Hall, determined to turn around the program that hasn't made the 5A playoffs since 2004-05.
Edison is the smallest school in 6A, and Hall acknowledges the odds are stacked against his program. A .500 season would be a success for the Eagles, and Hall believes they have a chance to achieve that if his 42-man team doesn't suffer injuries or get beat up by the bigger programs.
Hall, who played for Lawton Eisenhower in 6A's first state title game in 1992, would like to see 6A split up to give teams in Edison's position more of a chance to be successful. Class 6A's four semifinalists last year also were the four largest schools of the 32 teams. Union and Jenks have combined to win the last 16 state titles in 6A.
"I can't tell my players we're giving them every opportunity and every tool to be successful in 6A, because that's not true," Hall said. "Why should we be in the same class as Broken Arrow, which has four students to every one we have. How can that be classified as fair? You can't compensate for that. We don't even have our own locker room and homefield. We've only got two full-time assistants. In future years we're going to be selling our nondistrict games to the highest bidder so we can pay for helmets and footballs. You know that I-AA team that OU plays - we're that team in 6A."
But Hall is trying to make the most of Edison's move in 6A.
"A part of coaching and playing sports is to teach life skills," Hall said. "You've got to play the hand your dealt. We don't try to give kids excuses for not being successful.
"It will be very exciting for our kids to be able to play against Jenks and Broken Arrow because that will give them a chance to put together a recruiting tape to show college coaches of what they can do when they're playing against the best competition."
Looking at 6A: Will Union win a fifth straight state title or will this be the year that a West team wins 6A for the first time since 1995?
Union coach Kirk Fridrich predicts a potential wild scramble for the 6A gold ball.
"I see it becoming more competitive, which is healthy for Oklahoma high school football," Fridrich said. "There should be five to eight teams vying for a state championship. I think it's becoming a lot more competitive and that Union, Jenks and Broken Arrow don't quite have the same stranglehold on the title. It will be more fun. It's not a whole lot of fun to play games that aren't competitive."
Rules changes: There are a few notable rules changes for high school football this year.
One of those adopted by the National Federation of State High Schools Association is that a player must be removed from the game for one play if his helmet comes off while the ball is live.
Also there will be less contact on onside kicks as members of the kicking team won't be allowed to make contact with the receiving team until the ball travels 10 yards or until the receiving team has touched the ball.
Fans also will notice a new interpretation of a legal catch on a forward pass. A receiver will have to establish possession and contact the ground inbounds while maintaining possession - regardless of the defender's action. The rule previously allowed catches to be ruled legal if a player caught the ball in the air and then was knocked out of bounds by an opponent before touching the ground if the official believed the receiver would have come down inbounds if the contact had not occurred.
Holland Hall sees new format: Holland Hall missed the Southwest Preparatory Conference title game last year but had made it in seven of the previous eight years.
The Dutch, coming off a 1-9 season, have one of the state's top tight ends, Zack Rogers, are much improved and should be a title contender against this season.
The chances for Holland Hall and all SPC teams to make the playoffs have increased due to a format change in the SPC. Twice as many teams will make the playoffs. In previous years, the SPC was divided into Division I and Division II, and the top two teams in each division met for that division's title. This year, teams are divided into North and South divisions. There are eight teams in the North, including Holland Hall, and seven in the South.
The top four teams in each division make the playoffs. The two playoff teams with the highest enrollment in each division are assigned to Division I, and the two other playoff teams go to Division II. There will be two weeks of playoffs. The highest seed in the North hosts the No. 2 South seed, and the No. 1 South seed hosts the No. 2 North seed. Both Division I and Division II title games will be played in a doubleheader Nov. 10 at Pennington Field in Bedford, Texas. Some years, Holland Hall will be playing for the Division I title, and in other years it will be in Division II.
Holland Hall athletic director Steve Heldebrand likes the changes.
"In the past if you had two losses, you were pretty well doomed to miss the playoffs," Heldebrand said. "This still gives you a chance."
Holland Hall tight end Zack Rogers is pursued by Cascia Hall defensive back Luke Moellers last season. Rogers and the Dutch should be a Southwest Preparatory Conference title contender this season. Tulsa World file