The Edmond Sun
Deer Creek is coming off a 10-2 district championship season and many sparkplug contributors are back on the gridiron again this season.
Last fall, 6-2 gunslinger Joel Blumenthal was under center, but has since graduated.
Head coach Grant Gower stands firm that his high-powered offense will continue to thrive with six-foot Caden Sander stepping in.
“He’s a great leader, a great character man,” Gower lauded. “He’ll do a great job and was our backup quarterback whenever we needed him.”
Sander, a multi-tasker, also will play free safety and return kicks and punts, an area he really thrives in. He posted seven interceptions on defense in 2012.
A handfull of Sander’s targets will be senior receivers Cole Verble, Jackson Smith, Michael Wilton and tight end Matt Hart.
“Verble is a really good solid receiver and has good hands,” Gower said. “He runs great routes.
“Hart had a great offseason, is a great worker and a great young man.”
Smith also plays cornerback.
“Marcus Coleman will be our go-to guy offensively,” Gower added. “He can really run and is one of our best overall athletes. He’s tough at running back and catching the ball as well. He can make some plays with the ball in his hands.”
Power running back with some get-up is 6-0, 195-pounder Alec James, who complements the shifty Coleman perfectly.
“He will be a big part of what we do this year,” said Gower. “He’s really strong, runs really well. He’ll definitely carry a lot of the load this year.”
The lone returning starting offensive lineman is senior Clay Jarzombek.
“He’s the lone returner. But, we’ve got a lot of guys we feel good about to fill those positions,” said Gower. “We don’t have the size and the guys that are going to maul you. We got guys that are quick and we spread them out.”
With Sander’s kick return ability, the Antlers seem to even grow stronger in special teams play, especially what they possess in the kicking game. All-State placekicker Dillon Noble booted a 57-yard field goal last year, is 14-for-21 (67 percent) on field goals and 118-for-121 (98 percent) on extra points in his career with Harvard eyeballing him closely.
“He’s got a great leg,” Gower expressed. “He is a weapon in the kicking game. A lot of people really miss what a valuable weapon he his. He’s the punter as well.”
On defense, defensive lineman Eli Hooks is back after recording 18 sacks, leading Class 5A. Joining Hooks is nose guard Brandon Kidd and coming back to get on the turf is multiple wrestling state champion Cole Pacheco for his senior year.
“Cole is a really good linebacker,” Gower said. “He broke his hand his sophomore year and then just concentrated on wrestling.”
Deer Creek opens at Piedmont on Friday at 7:30 p.m.