1. Can Broken Arrow repeat as state and district champion?
The Tigers haven’t won consecutive district championships since 2002 and 2003. Last year, Broken Arrow won its first state title and became the first Class 6AI district champion to win a gold ball since Jenks in 2014.
Last year’s district race was essentially decided in the 6AI-1 opener, when Broken Arrow defeated Jenks 28-13. The two teams met again in the state championship game, with Broken Arrow prevailing 28-20.
Jenks, which only has three returning starters, has six district and four state titles in this decade. The teams will again meet in the district opener, this time at Jenks on Sept. 27.
“The district title still, as always, goes through Jenks,” Broken Arrow coach David Alexander said. “The tradition over there is not going to go away.”
Keith Riggs is in his second season as Jenks head coach after succeeding Allan Trimble, who led the Trojans to 13 state championships.
“Just like on the football field, experience helps for a coach, too,” Riggs said. “I feel more comfortable this year.”
2. How will Broken Arrow replace state player of the year Noah Cortes?
Broken Arrow will use three running backs — senior Kejuan Tolbert, sophomore Maurion Horn and junior Corey Williams — to replace Cortes, who rushed for 1,958 yards and a school-record 35 touchdowns last season and is the Tigers’ career rushing leader with 4,453 yards. Tolbert was Cortes’ main backup last year with 34 carries for 293 yards. Horn scored on two of his three carries. Williams, back at Broken Arrow after a two-year absence, rushed for 818 yards and nine TDs at Choctaw.
“We’re not going to have one running back carry the ball 30 times,” Alexander said. “Our running backs look great, but they are completely different than Noah. These guys aren’t going to beat you up like Noah did; they are going to run around you and outrun you to the end zone. We have three guys who have some wiggle that I haven’t seen in Broken Arrow in several years. They can run on the track team — they have strength, size and speed.”
3. How will Jenks’ offense do without QB Ian Corwin?
It will be tough to replace Corwin, a three-year starting quarterback who set Jenks career records for passing yards (8,988) and completions (548), and was second with 80 passing TDs. Corwin will be succeeded by his backup from the past two years, junior Stephen Kittleman.
“Stephen is a great kid who learned from Ian Corwin and has great leadership skills,” Riggs said.
The Trojans graduated their top two rushers from last season and their running game — much like Broken Arrow’s — will be by committee. Jenks’ rushing attack will be led by Will Cox, whom Riggs calls “a very dynamic runner.” Cox also is a defensive standout.
Three potential breakout players
Bo Estes, Jenks
The Trojans usually have a receiver who produces prolific numbers as a senior after being primarily unknown previously outside the program. Last year, it was Julian Clarke. This year, Estes is that candidate after he had 19 receptions for 371 yards and three TDs last year.
Isaiah Keller, Broken Arrow
The senior had similar receiving numbers last year as Estes, with 19 catches for 295 yards and three TDs. “He’s gotten so big and so strong, we’re going to come up with ways to get him the football,” Alexander said. “He’s just too good not to get it out there to him.”
Tyson Ward, Jenks
The junior linebacker, a transfer from Lincoln Christian who had 253 tackles at the 3A level over the past two seasons, is making a smooth transition to 6AI football. “He’s come over here and hit the ground running,” Riggs said. “He’s got a nose for the football. He finds his way to the football every play and is a super-hard worker.”
Listed in district coaches’ projected order of finish
1. Broken Arrow Tigers
Head coach: David Alexander (6th year, 44-16)
2019-20 ADM: 5,032.82
2018 record: 13-0
District titles: 1945-47, ’50, ’54-’56, ’65, ’74, ’83, ‘02-’03, ’11, ‘15, ‘18
State titles: 2018
Top players: Trevor Burckhartzmeyer, OL (6-2, 290, Sr.); Tyler Crawford, PK/P (5-11, 170, Sr.); Zeno Marcheselli, LB (6-2, 205, Sr.); Bryce Mattioda, DB (6-0, 193, Sr.); Jaylen Moss, DE (6-4, 250, Sr.); Andrew Raym, OL (6-5, 305, Sr.); Myles Slusher, DB (6-0, 185, Sr.); Campbell Yeager, LB (6-0, 215, Sr.)
Notable: Broken Arrow intercepted 16 passes last year and only threw two interceptions. ... The Tigers’ nondistrict opponents are Mansfield (Texas), Union and Owasso.
2. Jenks Trojans
Head coach: Keith Riggs (2nd year, 11-2)
2019-20 ADM: 3,491.24
2018 record: 11-2
District titles: 1944, ’48, ’54, ’60-’63, ’66, ’71, ’74, ’81-82, ’84, ’87, ’89-’90, ’92-2001, ’04-’05, ’07-10, ’12-14, ‘16-17
State titles: 1979, ’82, ’93, ’96-2001, ’03, ’06-’07, ’12-15
Top players: Will Cox, DB/RB (5-10, 190, Sr.); Bo Estes, WR (6-2, 200, Sr.); Max Johnson, OL (6-1, 280, Sr.); Stephen Kittleman, QB (5-10, 170, Jr.); Grant Lohr, RB/DB ((5-11, 185, Jr.); James Pruitt, LB (6-1, 215, Sr.); John Roberts, OL (6-1, 270, Sr.); Tyson Ward, LB (5-10, 185, Jr.)
Notable: Kittleman completed 9-of-11 passes for 96 yards last season. ... Pruitt is the top returning tackler with 31 solos and 39 assists last season. ... Nondistrict opponents are Mansfield (Texas) Legacy, Bixby and Union.
3. Norman (8-3)
After going 5-35 over the previous four years, coach Rocky Martin’s Tigers were one of last season’s biggest surprises and they return all their key offensive players. Cade Horton (6-1, 175, Sr.) is a dual-threat quarterback who accounted for 2,928 yards and 25 TDs last season. Joe Willie (5-9, 155, Sr.) had 182 carries for 1,357 yards. Andrew Young (6-1, 190, Sr.) had 46 catches for 984 yards and seven TDs.
4. Edmond Santa Fe Wolves (7-4)
Talyn Shettron (6-4, 170, So.) is a wideout who has been offered by Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Kyle White is 27-18 in four seasons as the Wolves’ head coach. A matchup against Norman in the regular-season finale could decide third place.
5. Westmoore Jaguars (5-5)
Coach Lorenzo Williams’ Jaguars took a step back last season after going 8-3 in 2017 — their best season since 2013. Defensive end Nikale Davis (6-3, 230, Sr.) had 12 sacks last season and is a major-college prospect.
6. Yukon (6-4)
Jeremy Reed, who coached Altus to the 5A state championship in 2015, has the Millers trending up with a 10-10 record in his first two seasons after inheriting a program that was winless in 2016. The Millers’ flexbone offense will be led by a sophomore QB, Brayden Dutton (6-0, 175).
7. Enid (1-9)
Rashaun Woods, the Plainsmen’s new head coach, faces a similar big rebuilding situation as he did when he arrived at OKC Marshall in 2013. Woods led Marshall to the 3A state championship in 2017.
8. Edmond Memorial (2-8)
Second-year head coach Luke Orvis has eight returning starters. The Bulldogs (4-15) are coming off their worst two-year stretch since 2004-05.