Special to The Sun
When the ball is in Warren Wand’s hands, good things tend to happen for Edmond Memorial.
Last year, the speedy back racked up nearly 2,000 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. He also wore many hats, filling in at quarterback early in the year before switching to his natural tailback spot.
Head coach Justin Merideth said Wand will again be their first option, but he certainly won’t be their only one.
“Our first goal is always to be as balanced as possible,” Merideth said. “This year, we just feel that we have the ability to do that.”
The Bulldogs have several other playmakers in Wayland Anderson, who accounted for 600 yards of offense last year, Evan Nicklas, Donovan Nunley, Jalon Moore-Smith, Tristan McBee and Sam Rolle.
While Merideth knows where he wants the ball, he’s not sure who will get it there. Luke Booker, Mick Mayerske and Greg Olson are in a tight race for the starting quarterback role.
“They’re all pretty similar in their abilities, but what is going to separate them is their decision making and their consistency,” Merideth said.
The offensive line continues to make strides. They are led by returning starters center Mason Hall and left tackle Jordan Weltzheimer. JD Hettinger, Brett Reid, Tyler Carlson and Hayden Kaaiohelo are competing for the other starting spots.
“We just feel like we’re getting better and better each day,” Merideth said. “We’re just really happy with how they’re progressing. They had a few questions back in the spring, but now we feel like we have a pretty solid group of seven or eight guys we feel can play.”
McBee, Rolle and Nunley will see time at tight end/fullback.
Defensively, the Bulldogs will be led by their front line. Kolt Van Meter, Bennett Stone, Kourtney Williams, Charlie Dutton, Trayvon Gamble, LaManuel Singleton and Sam Osborn will all play on the defensive line.
“Our defensive line will be a strength because of their athleticism and depth there,” Merideth said.
Memorial should also be set at linebacker with returning starters Jason Hand, John Meeks, Grant Carro and Jake Mammen.
“That’s a group we know we can count on to be very consistent,” Merideth said.
The secondary will be led by cornerbacks Ashton Antwine and Robert Charleton, and safeties Ben Moore and Tasden Ingram.
Justin Marcha will again handle place-kicking duties, while Braxton Pickard is the favorite at punter.
Merideth expects to see improvement from his squad this fall but wouldn’t make any predictions. The Bulldogs play in one of the toughest districts in the state in District Class 6A-4. Rival Edmond Santa Fe is the favorite to win a third straight title.
“This is the toughest district that I've ever been a part of,” Merideth said. “Every team can beat you, if you don’t come ready to play, and that’s not normally the case. Whoever makes it to the playoffs from this district is a good team.”
The Bulldogs finished 4-7 last season. They started the year with five straight losses, before winning four of the last five regular season games to clinch a playoff spot. They were eliminated by Edmond North in the first round.
Memorial opens its season Friday versus Edmond North at Wantland Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma.