SMALL SCHOOL PREVIEW: 'We before me': Hartshorne opens season with new culture

COREY STOLZENBACH | Staff PhotoJunior Micah Baker and Hartshorne are scheduled to host Stigler for Friday's season opener. 

Hartshorne has a new motto this year: We Before Me.

Coach Jeff Beare said he picked up on that while watching 3D Coaching online along with offensive coordinator Justin James during the summer.

“It’s a process,” Beare said. “They’re 15-, 16-year-old kids. They’re not going to just totally buy into it from word ‘go’ but we’re going to continue in being consistent on preaching it.”

Beare said he is willing to work with the Miners on that process. He said the coaches teach the team a life lesson before every Monday practice. The third-year coach said Hartshorne picks out a different word or saying each week, and they’ll talk around 20-30 minutes prior to the Monday practice.

He said this started the first day of practice. Beare said the first word was impact. He wanted to open up his players’ eyes as to what kind of impact they make on others.

Beare said they are an influence because Hartshorne’s elementary students look up to them, and added eight or nine of the players eat lunch once a week with the elementary students to build relationships. He then asks his players how it went, and said they understand the impact they have on others.

He said it’s a fun culture this year. Beare said he wants the Miners to love playing the game and with each other just like they did when they were younger.

They’ll try to apply that culture come 7 p.m. Friday night at home against Stigler. Beare said the players will be excited since it’s the first game of the season for them.

The coach said sophomore Bryson Cervantes will be taking some snaps at quarterback. Things will be by committee at tailback. Junior Micah Baker is expected to start things off against the Panthers, while sophomore Dallas Colbert will also get carries.

Only seniors Zane Teafatiller and Sean Camp return on the offensive line, and Beare said a group of sophomores will get looks in the trenches. He talked about Eli Jackson getting some work at offensive tackle. Landen Semeski and Kory Sparks are bound to get work as well.

Beare added that competition is still open at center between junior Robert Peaslee and sophomore Landen Burke. He said the Miners have been giving both of them work at center.

He said he had to start a few of that Class of 2022 group last year due to injuries to other players.

“You can tell that they’re not normal sophomores,” he said. “They’ve been through it a little bit. I think where they’re at right now for sophomores, they’re doing really well.”

There could be some moving around in the secondary as well. Beare said senior Zack Farmer and sophomore Timothy Noriega are handling cornerback duties, but added sophomore Xavier Fraser is getting reps at that position, too.

He added that safeties are likely to rotate in and out of the game, with an injury to sophomore Zach McCoy hurting the depth chart.

The Panthers have multiple weapons who could make an impact on Friday. Senior Mason Peery moves from wide receiver to quarterback this season. Peery caught five touchdowns in 2018 as a wideout, and Stigler is returning receivers who had more than 2,000 yards combined last season.

Junior Ridge McClary was also a force for the Panthers, as he averaged 7.3 yards per carry. Hartshorne’s passing game will have to deal with senior Jaxon Calhoun, who has 10 total interceptions in the last two years.

The Panthers have been ranked in Class 3A by the Associated Press.

“They’re going to be extremely well coached on all three sides of the ball,” Beare said of Stigler.

Wilburton at Talihina, 7 p.m.

Wilburton starts its fourth year under coach Jeff Marshall by traveling to Talihina. The Golden Tigers made the playoffs last year, while Wilburton hopes to get back there after a two-year hiatus.

The Diggers finished 3-7 in 2018. They graduated their leading rusher, Tanner Arnold, who ran for 715 yards and eight touchdowns last year. Wilburton is counting on sophomore quarterback Grayson Mathis, who will try to improve from throwing four touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a freshman.

Canadian at Foyil, 7 p.m.

The Cougars will play their first regular season game under new head coach Wes Jackson, who received a promotion after previously being an assistant. Jackson takes over for John Pinkston, who served two years as Canadian’s coach. The Cougars will aim to make the playoffs for the fourth year running, and also look to pick up their first playoff win in school history.

Senior Carson Thompson was the Most Valuable Player of the McAlester News-Capital’s 2017 all-area football team as a sophomore, and was first-team last year as the area’s leading passer. Canadian also returns the area’s leading receiver in Terrell Crawford.

Savanna at Antlers, 7 p.m.

Savanna enters with a new coach, 2010 graduate Taylor Barr. The Bulldogs won just two games last year in Bob Pool’s lone season at the helm. Savanna lost five in a row to end the season. Coming back for his senior year is Clay Wageman, who had 95 carries for 567 rushing yards and three touchdowns last season as a junior. Barr said in a text message Tuesday that freshman Ayden Fry will quarterback Savanna.

Cross Christian Academy at Quinton, 7 p.m.

The Savages (0-1) will try to bounce back after a 26-14 loss to Empire on Aug. 30. Quinton ran away against Cross Christian in 2018 with a 60-0 mercy rule win by halftime. Senior Dakota Gragg had two rushing touchdowns in that game. The Savages forced five fumbles with three recoveries on defense.

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com

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