Herald Leader / Eagle Observer Football Preview

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WATTS, Okla. — On the heels of a successful 2016 season, the Watts Engineers got off to a fast start in 2017, winning three of their first four football games. The fast start hit a wall down the stretch, though. Watts f inished the season losing five of their last six games — the only win in that stretch a 68-20 triumph over Porum — and finished the season with a 4-6 record and missing the Oklahoma Class B playoffs. "Last year, we underachieved what our expectations are and the culture we've developed," said Watts coach Matt Stilwell. "We expect to win games and except to make the playoffs. We need to not expect to be 'just OK.'" Stilwell, 12-18 overall in his fourth season as head coach, says 2018 needs to be a bounce-back year for the Engineers. "This year needs to be that step where we expect to be great and have confi- dence," he said. "This year, we expect nothing less than to make the playoffs, and we have our eyes on the district championship. I think that's something we can achieve this year. The ultimate goal is to win the district championship." The Engineers remain in District B-8 along with Regent Prep, Foyil, South Coffeyville, Summit Christian and Oaks. Foyil and Summit Christian are both dropping down from 11-man football, while Regent Prep is moving up from Class C where it went 10-2 last year. Oaks is expected to be young, while South Coffeyville is rumored to be struggling with numbers, Stilwell said. Watts went through spring football with around 25 players — a large number for an eight-man football program — and around 21 showed up for summer work- outs. Offensively, Watts will run the same offense it has run under Stilwell the past three seasons with a split-back formation out of the shotgun. "The kids know it," Stilwell said. "The continuity and knowing what to do, play- ing without thinking, usually frees you up to go out and play football. These seniors have run it for four years now, so they know it. It's easy to add stuff because they understand the offense so well." The Engineers return their entire offensive line from last season in seniors Blake Willis (5-10, 245), Braxton Stanley (5-11, 255) and sophomore Bryce Thomp- son (5-10, 215). "They've worked hard all summer. It's the strongest we've been on the offensive line," Stilwell said. "The offense goes as that offensive line goes." Stanley broke his scapula recently and could miss a few weeks. While he's out, Willis will move from center to guard and senior Jason Estep is expected to move in and play center. When Stan- ley returns he'll play guard while Willis moves back to center. "We'll have to do some shifting until Braxton can get back," Stilwell said. Williamson plays the other guard posi- tion. "Braxton and Blake have started for three years," Stilwell said. "Bryce started as a freshman and got thrown in the fire last year." Stilwell said the Engineers are short on linemen. Sophomore Dylan Smith (6-1, 265) has potential to play. "For eight-man football that's a big kid," Stilwell said. "He just doesn't real- ize his potential yet. If we can get him to figure things out he can help us a whole bunch." Senior Dakota Brown (5-9, 165) and freshmen Kaleb Orullian (6-1, 245) and Blaze Lykins (5-9, 170) also work on the offensive line. In the backfield, Watts returns play- makers in junior Aaron Mitchell (6-1, 170) and Blayn Harlin (5-8, 145). Harlin played quarterback last year but will move to running back. Mitchell, who's older brother Clay- ton played quarterback for Watts in the successful 2016 season, will move to quarterback. Mitchell has a good arm and good size, his coach said. Harlin will be the team's backup quarterback. "I think this year with the skill kids we've got coming, we'll let Blayn run the ball and let Aaron take the job at quarter- back and see how it goes," Stilwell said. The Engineers got a move-in from Oaks in junior Donovan Hammer (5-10, 210), who is expected to help out at running back. "He can do good things for us," Stilwell said of Hammer. Junior Jesse Guyll (5-8, 160) and senior Darrin Grant (5-7, 200) could get some looks in short-yardage situations. At wide receiver and tight end, Oaks will look at junior Avery Guyll (5-11, 145) and sophomore Kenny Tush (5-11, 150). "Those two are going to have to step in there," Stilwell said. Brown also plays some tight end. "It's up for whoever wants to earn it and keep it," Stilwell said. Sophomore Caleb Smith could play some wide receiver. "He's a fast kid, explosive," Stilwell said. "We're going to try and get the ball in his hands." Stilwell added freshman Tye Whaler (5-7, 125) has potential. "He reminds me of a young Joe Phifer," Stilwell said. "He has that potential. He's a natural athlete. He just has stuff that you can't teach. We'll find some ways to get the ball to him as a freshman." Sophomore Adrian Mendoza (6-1, 170) is "tough as boot leather" and could see some time at blocking tight end. Fresh- man A.J. Garner (5-10, 130), Caden Willis, Christian Sulladasker all could see some time at receiver along with senior Nick Kenton Williams 310 E. Main Siloam Springs 479-524-3163 I have pride in our Panthers 2018 Football Preview The Herald-Leader/Westside Eagle Observer Wednesday, August 22, 2018 n 15 Aaron Mitchell Blake Willis Dakota Brown Darrin Grant Blayn Harlin Braxton Stanley Jesse Guyll Bryce Thompson 2018 Watts EnginEErs Matt Stilwell Head coach Engineers look to construct bounce-back season n After a successful 2016, Watts slumped to 4-6 in 2017. By Graham Thomas Staff Writer n gthomas@nwadg.com L ast year, we underachieved what our expectations are and the culture we've developed. We expect to win games and except to make the playoffs. We need to not expect to be 'just OK.'" Matt Stilwell Watts head coach See WATTS on Page 20

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