Corey's Corner: Five predictions for the 2019 football season

KEVIN HARVISON | Staff photoMcAlester players team up for a tackle during a recent scrimmage.

The 2019 high school football season officially kicked off on Friday with Quinton's home game against Empire and the rest of the local teams will play their season openers this week.

So it's time for some predictions on how locals will do this football season.

1. McAlester will return to the playoffs.

Two years without making the playoffs is a long time, especially for a program with so much tradition. The Buffaloes fell one game shy a year ago, and now, it's about the culture change. 

I predict coach Forrest Mazey's intensity and personality will motivate players and that the Buffs will feed off the energy of the home crowd against longtime rival Ada. These seniors were part of back-to-back losing seasons in 2017 and 2018 and will want turn things around in their final campaign.

This might not be a district championship team just yet, but getting fourth place, or even third place, in the district, doesn't seem farfetched at all.

2. Canadian will win its first-ever playoff game.

Senior Carson Thompson has just been electric at quarterback these last two seasons, and it's a safe bet that he's going want to save his best season for last. He's been arguably the best player statistically in the entire area since his sophomore year. Thompson and his teammates with the Cougars also told me they're hungry to win. 

First-year coach Wes Jackson has a passion for Canadian football and has done a great job as offensive coordinator, a role he will maintain in 2019. The Cougars are also very high on first-year defensive assistant Zane Rose. 

All they need to do is maintain a positive attitude with morale and chemistry being kept high, and these Cougars will make more history in 2019.

3. Grayson Mathis will be this year's most improved player.

Wilburton coach Jeff Marshall praised Mathis' calm demeanor as a freshman last year. That says a lot about his character and shows how big of a step he has taken as a leader at such a young age. 

When I sat down with local coaches this summer to discuss their respective team's upcoming season, all of them pretty much agreed every starting spot was open. There were two exceptions to this. One of them was Marshall declaring Mathis would maintain his role at quarterback with the Diggers. 

That right there is confidence and speaks volumes.

4. Hartshorne's offense will endure growing pains.

The Miners can certainly make the playoffs this year. Players such as sophomore Bryson Cervantes and junior Micah Baker are very motivated and have a desire to do better than last year's 3-7 campaign.

However, even though there is talent on the offensive side of the ball, Hartshorne has experienced a lot of turnover on the offensive line, and it's unlikely somebody will fill Josh Rentie's shoes overnight. 

Whomever coach Jeff Beare rolls out on the offensive line Friday against Stigler will need to step up in a big way in order for Baker to replicate or exceed his 2018 production.

5. Quinton will have a winning record.

I'm not sure if the Savages are going have only one loss again this year, as they are playing a tougher schedule; but they'll still have a good year before being eligible for districts next year.

Coach Kenny Hokit said Quinton is transitioning from a power style offense to a spread offense. Opening up the passing game could be beneficial for all involved. 

It gives senior Dakota Gragg a chance to showcase his talents with the arm, and junior Caden Birckel has a quickness to himself, as did the graduated Haven Barnes. Birckel won't have to worry about shouldering as much of a load this year as Barnes did last year.

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com 

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