Shawnee is jumping into the big pond.
With the move to Class 6A, the Wolves will rely on returning starters if they want to make the playoffs.
“It's not the 6A we were in a few years ago,” coach Billy Brown said. “We aren't running up against Jenks and Broken Arrow and teams like that. I think the difference is, there's no easy wins. For us, there's no team on our schedule that we can say is an easy win.”
There were a few starters that transferred and a few that simply didn't want to play because of the transition to 6A, coach Brown said.
“The players we have out this year, I wouldn't trade for a million dollars,” Brown said.
“The ones we have are putting in the work every day,” he said.
The offense will be led by senior quarterback Heath Hunter. He had a successful season, Heath finished with 2,357 passing yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
“Heath has the experience and had a really good year last year,” Brown said.
The Shawnee backfield is stacked with some of the strongest athletes pound- for -pound. Returning starter Tre'Juan Shaw rushed for 866 yards last season. The way he ran in the scrimmage against Ardmore, he has a good chance at hitting 1,000. Joining him in the backfield is Elijah Powis. Powis is a state champion powerlifter at 190-pounds and should have an immediate impact in the running game.
“They are two of the strongest athletes you will find on the field any given week,” Brown said.
Shawnee's receivers are anchored by Trenton Skinner and Scout Cawvey. Both appear to be crisp route runners and have big-play potential. Skinner led the team with 744 yards receiving last year and Cawvey was the team leader in touchdowns with nine.
“Our receivers have the experience and are two of the best route runners out of anyone we'll play,” Brown said. “Trenton and Scout have proven that they can play. We plan on playing a few different guys until we can figure out who fits the best.”
The offensive line is a good mix of experience and youthful energy. The player with the highest upside is Sergio Garcia. The rest of the line will be a mix and match until the coaching staff can figure out who fits where.
“We are pretty young up front,” Brown said. “Out of the seven possible lineman, we have one senior in Addison Smith. Sergio has some experience too but for the rest of the guys, we will have to have a rotation.”
The defensive line will consist of Reed Stewart, Elijah Bender and Addison Smith, with the fourth starting spot still up in the air.
Starting linebackers will be Powis, Shaw and Xavier Reed.
The Shawnee secondary is fairly young, but full of talented athletes. Sophomores Zane Christopher and Demetries Beavers are slated to be the starting cornerbacks.
Con'cere Spencer and Skinner will start at the safety positions and freshman
Jaylon Orange will play a lot in the
secondary, Brown confirmed.
“Last year, Christopher and Beavers played freshman football. We lost our starting corners from last year. One transferred and the other is only playing baseball. The guys we have playing this year are very athletic and have worked hard to get ready for the season.”
On special teams, Kossi Kodoe is slated to be the kicker and Hunter will be the punter.
There are some new faces on the coaching staff. Jack Dingus will be the line coach for Shawnee this year. Former Shawnee Wolves Brandon Davis
and Landon Harper will fill in as position coaches.
“They all bring a ton of enthusiasm and come prepared and ready to help build the program,” Brown said.
Shawnee's first game is Aug. 24 when they host Choctaw. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.