Herald Leader / Eagle Observer Football Preview

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OAKS, Okla. — The 2017 football season was an eye-opening experi- ence for coach C.D. Thompson and the Oaks-Mission (Okla.) Warriors. Struggling with low numbers, the Wa r r i o r s w e n t winless in 2017, its worst in seven years under Thompson, going 0-10. T h e t o u g h e s t year prior to that was in 2012 when the Warriors went 4-6 and a 5-5 mark in 2015. The rest of the campaigns have been winning seasons for the Warriors. "Never been through anything like that," said Thompson. "The kids that stuck it out, they got better. They did what they needed to do. The kids bought in and played their hearts out. Any break that anybody got — it wasn't us. It was a real humbling experience." But not all was negative coming out of the Oaks' 2017 season. Running back Brendon Robbins wound up playing in the Oklahoma All-State Game at North- eastern Oklahoma University in Miami and offensive lineman Joseph "Choogie" Young signed a football scholarship with University of Central Oklahoma. "I knew last year was going to be a tough one, but in spite of that tough year, I had a kid that All-Stated and played in the All-State in NEO and a kid playing college football at UCO. That's victories we got out of last season. "If I've got to go 0-10 every year to get an All-State player and a kid play college football, I'll do it every year," Thompson said. "It's not about the coaches' ego. It's about the kids." Thompson said a strong eighth-grade class last year — now freshmen — also gave some hope to the future. "That helped us get through the year too because we knew we had some athletes coming," Thompson said. Oaks had 22 players at its team picture day, a solid number for Oklahoma eight- man football, including eight freshmen. That was a drastic improvement from the spring. "In Oklahoma, you can't use your eighth-graders in spring ball," Thomp- son said. "Our spring ball was kind of limited because we didn't have good numbers." Twelve Warriors attended team camp at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and did well during the summer. "We always start football in June and we've had one of the best weight room turnouts we've ever had in the summer," Thompson said. "We've got some strong kids." Thompson and assistant coach Anthony Arnold will coach the Warriors with Arnold calling the offense and Thompson on defense. The Warriors have more skill players than they have size, Thompson said, which lends itself to playing in a spread formation offensively. Four Warriors have been battling at quarterback. Juniors Kaleb Dollarhide (6-0, 155) and Aaron Budder (5-8, 140), sophomore Trevor Wilson (5-10, 150) and freshman Shaun Reed (6-0, 160) all are vying for the position. " Co m p e t i t i o n b re e d s s u cce ss ," Thompson said. "You can't have too many quarterbacks." Thompson said the Warriors lacked the quarterback last year who knew when to run and when to pull the trigger. "In my opinion, the best quarterbacks I've ever coached will run to the line of scrimmage and throw that dart. Pulls in the DBs (defensive backs) and it nearly goes for a touchdown every time. Budder has a lot of experience at wide receiver and the Warriors have picked up freshman Carlos Balderas (5-9, 130) from Leach. "He ain't dropped a ball yet," Thomp- son said. "I don't think he dropped one at team camp." The Twist brothers, Freddie and Orin, play wide receiver as do seniors Tree Sanders (5-8, 160), John Barfield (5-8, 140) and T.J. Cummings (6-0, 195) . Freshmen Tiajer Russell (5-7, 140), Pharaoh Yang (4-9, 100), Ryan McCol- lum (5-10, 140) hope to gain experience at wideout throughout the year. Freshman Brett Hogshooter (5-8, 190) could see some action at running back as could Wilson. McCollum and Balderas also play running back, with Balderas offering a speed element. On the offensive line, Jackson Ross, a 6-0, 270-pound junior anchors the unit at center. Cummings can shift from wide receiver and play on the line. Sanders, juniors Warren Chewey (6-0, 270) and Kody Venable (5-10, 160), soph- omore Jordan Dry (5-10, 220), freshman Bryant Odle (5-11, 240) and freshman Aidan Pitts (6-0, 350) also work on the offensive line. Defensively Oaks will likely use a 3-2-3 scheme with three down lineman. Ross will anchor that unit in the middle, while Cummings will play one defensive end. Venable and the freshman Reed will rotate at the other defensive end. Hogshooter, McCollum and Dollarhide man the linebacker position. Balderas, Budder and Orin Twist man the corners, while Freddie Twist plays free safety. As your local independent agent, we're your neighbor - someone you can trust and someone who's here for you when it matters most. MOSS INSURANCE GROUP Siloam Springs 479-524-5111 https://mossins.com Proud to support the Panthers! 2018 Football Preview The Herald-Leader/Westside Eagle Observer Wednesday, August 22, 2018 n 21 Kaleb Dollarhide Aaron Budder John Barfield Kody Venable Freddie Twist Jackson Ross T.J. Cummings Tree Sanders 2018 Oaks-MissiOn WarriOrs C.D. Thompson Head coach Nowhere to go but up for Oaks after 0-10 campaign By Graham Thomas Staff Writer n gthomas@nwadg.com

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