Coach Robert Park’s Pirates return nine senior starters from last year’s 14-1 state title team, including All-World defensive player of the year finalist Walker Niver, linebacker Joe Whiteley and Kohlby Foster, who had interceptions in the championship game. Cooper Park will succeed Beau Teel, who was a four-year starter at quarterback.
2. Metro Christian
Coach Jared McCoy’s Patriots are ready to take the next step after going 12-2 and reaching the semifinals last season. Asher Link, who produced 3,942 total yards and 45 TDs last season, is one of the best QBs in the state, regardless of classification, and linebacker Price Allman leads the defense after recording 171 tackles last season.
Coach Gary Willis’ Wolverines, who ended Millwood’s 39-game winning streak in the playoffs last year, are coming off four consecutive 10-win seasons. Assistant coach and former OSU/NFL linebacker Kenyatta Wright’s sons, Elijah and Solomon, return to lead the defense after combining for 183 tackles and 23 sacks, split nearly evenly last year.
4. OKC Millwood
Coach Darwin Franklin’s Falcons (11-1 last year) had some notable graduation losses, but can’t be overlooked after going 39-1 over the past three seasons.
Coach Dave Martin’s Longhorns are 40-4 over the past four seasons after going 10-2 in 2018. Korbin Cox returns after rushing for 1,176 yards and 20 TDs last season.
The Golden Demons, after consecutive 13-2 seasons and state runner-up finishes, should make another serious run at a title although they only have three returning starters on each side of the ball. Easton Davis returns after producing 27 sacks last season. Matt Pierce is a standout tackle, and coach David Tenison likes the athleticism of new QB Dusty Pendergrass.
Coach Rob Gilstrap’s Warriors, 12-2 last year, have a fast and experienced team with eight three-year starters, including big-play receivers Barrett Bradbury and Garrett Long, and tight end Brock Borin.
Nine starters, led by linebacker Bryant Watts and lineman Caleb Yeager, return on defense for coach Tommy Bare, who led the Redskins to an 11-2 record in his first season.
Several key starters return for coach Larry Newton Jr. from last year’s 10-3 team, including quarterback Nick Jones and running back Noah Alexander, who rushed for 1,406 yards and 11 TDs.
10. Holland Hall
Coach Tag Gross’ Dutch, 9-3 last year, graduated their standout QB, Drake Roush, but have the luxury of having his successor, Wallace Clark, already with the experience of having started the last 11 games in a 12-1 season in 2017.
Players in the state's top 25
Asher Link, Metro Christian, QB, 6-1, 197, Sr.
Walker Niver, Sperry, DL/RB, 6-2, 215, Sr.
Other players to watch
Metro Christian, WR, 5-10, 175, Sr.
Caught 73 passes for 1,264 yards and 11 TDs last season and has one of the state’s top QBs, Asher Link, throwing to him.
Beggs, DB/WR, 6-5, 191, Jr.
In 2018, had 85 tackles and five interceptions. Has offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Arkansas, Nebraska and others.
Holland Hall, DL/TE, 6-2, 225, Jr.
As a nose guard, had 71 tackles and nine sacks sacks last season. In 2017, had 73 tackles and 11 sacks at defensive end. Will also see action at H-back or tight end this season.
Games to watch
Sept. 27: No. 2 Metro Christian at No. 6 Adair
Metro looks to avenge last year’s 20-19 loss in a district opener.
Oct. 25: No. 10 Holland Hall at No. 3 Vian
These teams have met twice in the past three years, with Holland Hall rallying to win in the final minute each time.
Nov. 8: No. 6 Beggs at No. 1 Sperry
The teams split last year’s two meetings, with Beggs winning in Week 10 to capture the district title and Sperry triumphing in the state championship game.