Sand Springs coach Dusin Kinard has endured his fair share of spring practices at Sand Springs. But none compare to this year’s session.
“We’ve only been able to hold two practices, because of the weather and the flooding,” Kinard said. “So it’s been real basic so far.”
The Sandites, coming off a 3-7 campaign in 2018, have been on the practice field sparingly, thanks to the constant threat of severe weather recently. And now Sand Springs residents have to contend with major Arkansas River flooding after all the recent rainfall.
Kinard said that’s created havoc on one side of the ball.
“We don’t even have a depth chart on defense,” he said.
Couple that with an ongoing quarterback battle. Currently, Kinard has four candidates — senior Braden Foster, junior Blaine Bladridge, sophomore Ty Pennington and sophomore Keaton Campbell — vying for the starting spot.
They’re all looking to fill the void left by Caden Pennington, who will be at Northeastern State this fall. During his senior season, Caden Pennington passed for 1,035 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he added 550 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
“This is kind of unique for me,” said Kinard on the eve of his 18th season at Sand Springs and his 13th as head coach. “We’ve never really had a quarterback battle. We’ve always had a guy, and then a guy in waiting.”
Embarking on a journey to find a quarterback doesn’t really concern Kinard, though.
“It makes it exciting for spring ball and this summer,” Kinard said. “I’m excited to see who gets the job.”
The quarterback that does win the job will have three returning linemen up front on offense. Josh Fincannon, Nick Hancock and Ryan Johnson will help anchor the Sandites’ offensive front.
Kinard also has several wide receivers returning, including Jacob Snodgrass.
“Offensively, once we get quarterback settled, we’ll be fine,” Kinard said. “Just need to develop depth on defense.”
That will make team camps and 7-on-7 sessions even more important for Kinard and Co. this summer.
“We don’t have a lot of wiggle room in allotted practice days,” Kinard said of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association spring football guidelines. “That just means we’ll rely a lot on team camps, and the good news is we have a lot of 7-on-7 (camps) to go to.”
Kinard even said the Sandite playbook could be a work in progress throughout all the summer camps.
“We’re going to be installing stuff in the huddle at team camps,” he said. “Those are just more opportunities to install more and get our offense in.”
And as if Kinard needed anything else to add to his spring and summer agenda, he’s still fighting off pancreatic cancer.
“I had surgery in February, and I’ll continue to do chemotherapy for another month,” Kinard said. “They say it’s one that can come back aggressively, but so far I’m doing good and back to school every day. I’ll just continue to battle and enjoy every day that I get.”
Kinard said it all boils down to doing what he’s passionate about every day.
“I’m just trying to help kids,” he said. “That’s what I want to do. That’s my main goal. It’s all about, ‘how can I help a kid today?’ We’ll win or lose games, but I’m all about helping the kids.”