Wednesday night, our Training Camp Road Trip looked at Class 1A, Division I.
Texoma has five teams across two districts, with all but one team in the same district.
The one team by itself is Knox City. The Greyhounds are coming off three-straight winning seasons, but have played just one playoff game in the past four years.
They have a new head coach, and a new district that might give them a better chance to get back to the postseason, with Paducah, Rotan and Spur all coming off non-winning seasons.
"First and foremost, we want to make the playoffs," said new coach Caleb Callaway. "I mean, that's the ultimate goal, go out there and compete for a district championship and make the playoffs."
Callaway comes to town from Rising Star, replacing popular former coach Charles Steele who left for Covington. Callaway says at the start of the season a lot will look familiar, but things may start to evolve as the weeks go by.
"I tend to throw a little bit more," Callaway said. "Hopefully by Week 4, we'll be rolling with some of the new stuff, be able to really plug a lot of that into the games."
Senior Anthony Estrada should be back at quarterback for the Greyhounds. He'll have seniors Christian Abila and Sam Schnable as targets if they do indeed decide to air it out more.
Schnable is also a force for the defense, where there will be continuity this year, with coordinator Jordan Carter staying on-staff.
"I'm going to kinda let him stick with what we've been doing, what they've been doing in the past," Callaway said. "And we're going to implement a few more things. But the biggest change is going to be on the offensive side. So defensively, we're going to be way ahead of where we are offensively, probably for a while."
Our other four Texoma teams in Division I all come from District 12, with Newcastle, Forestburg, Gold-Burg and Saint Jo joining nearby Bryson in a 5-team setup.
"It's gonna be one of those districts that's gonna play out right to the end, I think," said Newcastle coach John Eli.
"You've got so many teams in there that are young and up-and-coming," agreed Forestburg's Wayne Tuckwell.
Newcastle, Forestburg and Bryson all made the playoffs last year, but only two of them can this year. And Saint Jo and Gold-Burg, who both bring back most or all of last year's young teams, will have something to say about that.
The Bobcats look like the favorites coming in, with some big-time players coming back. Senior Mikey Walker has been a strong defender, and will be asked to fill a bigger role on offense, as well. Big lineman Billy Bohannan has eleven-man size, but coach Eli says the senior can still move in the six-man game.
"He actually is pretty good side-to-side, lateral movement," Eli said. "You know, it's one of those deals where he's a big kid. He gets a hold of you, it's a benefit to us."
Newcastle will be working in a new quarterback, with junior Gage Bozeman stepping in for Matthew Lowe.
"He's been playing that position since he was in junior high," Eli said. "He played a bit last year on the varsity level, but it's going to be a little bit more eye-opening for him, as far as the speed of the game."
Their top competition is probably the Forestburg Longhorns. They were district champions in Division II last year, before moving up to D-I in this alignment.
Their biggest issue will be attrition. They lost two strong seniors, Malaci Moore and UMHB signee Taten Vann, plus quarterback Matthew Wallace transferred to Bowie.
"You know, I've got three big holes that we've got to fill," said coach Tuckwell. "We've just got to tweak some stuff, you know as far as the offense goes and the defense goes."
Moore's younger brother J.D. will have to play a major role on the team this year, at a few different spots. Last year, as a sophomore, he was the starting running back, but missed their final playoff game with an injury.
"We're going to put J.D. at quarterback," Tuckwell said. "You know I've just got to find the right places for the kids, like we did last year."
Another player expected to play a big role this year is fellow junior Bear Osteen.
"He's played well for us last year," said Tuckwell. "And he's gonna step in, hopefully, to the linebacker role there."
The Saint Jo Panthers are coming off a tougher season. Last year, they started 3-1 before losing their final 6 games of the season. But head coach Chad Tallon says with such a young team, it can still work to his advantage.
"Just having success at that early stage for those young guys was great," said head coach Chad Tallon. "But also, having those struggles has made them hungry. So we've had a really great off-season this summer, so we're looking forward to this year."
The experience should help the Panthers be ready for this season, as they bring back 5 starters on each side of the ball.
"Those kids got ten full games of varsity experience, and so we're looking forward to this year. The learning curve's going to be a lot smaller for us."
Saint Jo will be led by sophomore quarterback Preston Lyons. Even last year as a freshman, it was clear he was a star in the making.
"He has a drive that not a lot of kids have," Tallon said. "He loves to compete, and he's our best athlete, probably, all the way around. So he's the leader out there, those kids feed off of his energy, and we're lucky to have him back."
Finally, the Gold-Burg Bears are coming off a winless season, but they bring back nearly the entire team in 2016.
Sophomore Blake Allen will be back under center. He'll rely on big junior Bruce Mueller up front to protect him, while senior Billy Rogers brings some speed and play-making ability from the backfield, which the Bears will need to make noise against a tough schedule
Thursday night, we'll start our 11-man previews in District 7-2A Div. II with a look at the Munday Moguls.
Knox City Greyhounds 2016 Schedule
Aug. 25 vs Ira at Jayton (Thursday), 8
Sept. 2 at Rule, 7:30
Sept. 9 vs Crowell, 7:30
Sept. 16 at Throckmorton, 7:30
Sept. 23 at Guthrie, 7:30
Sept. 30 vs Newcastle, 7:30
Oct. 7 vs May, 7:30
Oct. 14 BYE
Oct. 21 at Rotan, 7:30*
Oct. 28 at Spur, 7:30*
Nov. 4 vs Paducah, 7:30*
Forestburg Longhorns 2016 Schedule
Aug. 26 at Notre Dame, 7:30
Sept. 2 BYE
Sept. 9 at Weatherford Christian, 7:30
Sept. 16 vs Gordon, 7:30
Sept. 23 vs Nazarene Christian, 7:30
Sept. 30 vs Savoy, 7:30
Oct. 7 vs Newcastle, 7:30*
Oct. 14 at Saint Jo, 7:30*
Oct. 21 BYE
Oct. 28 vs Bryson, 7:30*
Nov. 4 at Gold-Burg, 7:30*
Gold-Burg Bears 2016 Schedule
Aug. 26 vs Benjamin, 7:30
Sept. 2 vs Lakeland Christian, 7:30
Sept. 9 at Denton Calvary, 7:30
Sept. 16 at Harrold, 7:30
Sept. 23 at Northside, 7:30
Sept. 30 at Tyler King’s Academy, 7:30
Oct. 7 at Bryson, 7:30*
Oct. 14 BYE
Oct. 21 vs Newcastle, 7:30*
Oct. 28 at Saint Jo, 7:30*
Nov. 4 vs Forestburg, 7:30*
Newcastle Bobcats 2016 Schedule
Aug. 26 at Gordon, 7:30
Sept. 2 vs Guthrie, 7:30
Sept. 9 vs Tioga, 7:30
Sept. 16 vs Woodson, 7:30
Sept. 23 at Throckmorton, 7:30
Sept. 30 at Knox City, 7:30
Oct. 7 at Forestburg, 7:30*
Oct. 14 vs Bryson, 7:30*
Oct. 21 at Gold-Burg, 7:30*
Oct. 28 BYE
Nov. 4 vs Saint Jo, 7:30*
Saint Jo Panthers 2016 Schedule
Aug. 27 vs Nueces Canyon in Zephyr, 2
Sept. 2 vs McKinney Cornerstone, 7:30
Sept. 9 at Chillicothe, 7:30
Sept. 16 vs Northside, 7:30
Sept. 23 vs Savoy, 7:30
Sept. 30 at Throckmorton, 7:30
Oct. 7 BYE
Oct. 14 vs Forestburg, 7:30*
Oct. 21 at Bryson, 7:30*
Oct. 28 vs Gold-Burg, 7:30*
Nov. 4 at Newcastle, 7:30*
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