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OU rides Sugar high into new season

Bob Stoops One

College football is officially back, and the Oklahoma Sooners open up the 2014 season at 6 p.m. on Saturday at home against Louisiana Tech.

The Sooners are entering the new season with a preseason national ranking of No.3, which if OU can stay in the top four by the time the regular season is complete, will earn them a spot in the first-ever four-team college football playoff.website commentary new.qxd

Despite returning a lot from the team that went 11-2 a year ago and defeated SEC beast Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, OU still has some new faces on this year’s squad that will determine how good this team can be.

“It’s been one of our best camps we’ve had since I’ve been here,” OU head coach Bob Stoops told reporters at his weekly press conference. “This is probably the healthiest we have ever been coming out of camp. We didn’t have many guys missing practices, which allowed us to build more depth, because guys were able to get more work. Really very pleased with everything to this point.”

Last season, the OU offense averaged 32.8 points per game, while the Sooner defense allowed 22.1 points per contest. Oklahoma averaged 423 total yards of offense every time they took the field in 2013, and the D gave up 350.2 total yards per game.

OU was run-heavy a year ago as they averaged 223.9 rush yards per game while allowing 137.6 rush yards to their opponents. Through the air, Oklahoma was mediocre, averaging 199.1 pass yards per contest and giving up 212.5 pass yards per outing.

Some of the top returners to the team in 2014 will include sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight, sophomore running back Keith Ford, junior receiver Sterling Shepard, junior receiver Durron Neal, senior offensive linemen Daryl Williams, Tyrus Thompson, Adam Shead, Dionte Savage and Tyler Evans.

Junior offensive linemen Nila Kasitati and Ty Darlington are also returning for the Sooners this fall.

Senior Blake Bell, who spent the first four years on campus for OU as a quarterback, will switch positions and play the tight end role in 2014 for Oklahoma.

Knight comes into 2014 after having a rocky 2013. The sophomore had a passing efficiency rating of 125. He completed 79 passes out of 134 attempts a year ago with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He averaged 102.4 yards per game through the air.

Knight also presents a threat on the ground for OU. He ran the ball 67 times last season and gained a total of 485 yards and had two touchdowns on the ground.

Ford is the leading returning rusher for the Sooners in 2014 after OU graduated Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and Roy Finch in 2013. Ford had a total of 23 carries for 134 yards and one touchdown last season for the Sooners.

Sophomore Alex Ross will share time with Ford in the backfield. The Jenks native had three carries in 2013 for 19 total yards.

Oklahoma will be talented but raw at the receiver position to start the 2014 season. The Sooners graduated Jalen Saunders, LaColtan Bester and Jaz Reynolds from last year’s group.

Shepard will lead the way for OU this fall. Shepard caught 51 passes for 603 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. Neal had 13 receptions for 176 yards and sophomores Derrick Woods and Austin Bennett each had two catches in 2013.

At tight end, OU will go with Bell as the starter, having never caught a pass in a real game before, and sophomore Taylor McNamara will back up Bell. McNamara caught one ball last season for a total of 4 yards.

The most experienced group on the offensive side of the ball this season will be the offensive line. OU lost two players to graduation in 2013, Mustang native Bronson Irwin and Gabe Ikard, but will have five seniors leading the way.

Defensively, Oklahoma will return defensive tackles, junior Jordan Phillips, sophomore Jordan Wade and seniors Torrea Peterson and Quincy Russell.

At defensive end, OU returns junior Charles Tapper and senior Chuka Ndulue. Senior Geneo Grissom played at the DE position a year ago for the Sooners, but moved to linebacker this season.

Grissom will be joined by junior Eric Striker and sophomores Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans as returners this year.

In the back end, senior safety Quentin Hayes will return as the lone starter for the Sooners. Sophomores Ahmad Thomas and Hatari Byrd saw some action last season, but will still be young in 2014.

Senior Julian Wilson will make the switch from nickelback to cornerback this season opposite sophomore Zach Sanchez, who is a returning starter in 2014.

Special teams will also play a big role in the success or lack of success Oklahoma has this year. Both kickers are returning to Norman this fall. Seniors Michael Hunnicutt and Jed Barnett will handle those duties.

Hunnicutt is the returning place-kicker and Barnett is the returning punter for OU in 2014.

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Season prediction game-by-game

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Here is my game-by-game prediction of the 2014 Mustang varsity football schedule:

Week one: At Yukon, win, 35-13 (1-0)

When these two schools get together in any event, it is arguably the nastiest rivalry in all of Oklahoma. However, when that event is football, every cop in the county needs to be in attendance, because you never know what might happen.

This year’s version of the rivalry is at Yukon, but Mustang has far better talent across the board this season than the Millers possess. Look for the Broncos to come out strong early and keep the pedal floored.

This one will be all Mustang in a dominating fashion.

Week two: Stillwater, win, 41-14 (2-0)

Sometimes in sports, a team just has another team’s number. I think that is the case when talking about the matchups between Stillwater and Mustang.

Two years ago, the Pioneers came into Bronco Stadium undefeated with a stout defense, but the Broncos had their way with Stillwater. Last year, Mustang made the trip up there with thoughts of the Pioneers wanting revenge on the Broncos, but it wasn’t meant to be as MHS steamrolled Stillwater for the second straight year.

This season, either Stillwater is due to come in and put a beating on Mustang or the Broncos will keep the trend going against the Pioneers. I favor the latter.

Week three: At Edmond Memorial, win, 27-21 (3-0)

Mustang’s first true test of the year will take place in week three when the Broncos travel to Edmond to take on the Edmond Memorial Bulldogs at UCO’s stadium.

Memorial has proven in the past several years to have Mustang’s number on the gridiron, but I believe the Broncos will turn the tide this season and steal one away from the Bulldogs on a late game-winning touchdown drive led by MHS junior quarterback Chandler Garrett.

Week four: At Edmond North, win, 31-17 (4-0)

This one was a hard game to predict at first, but after doing the research and thinking long and hard about it, I had to go with the Broncos.

Edmond North will indeed be fired up to play their former coach Jeremy Dombek, who now strolls the sidelines for Mustang, but the Huskies won’t be able to hold off the hot and fired up MHS squad coming off their thrilling victory on the same field a week earlier.

Edmond North will jump out early and even look like they might pull away in the game because of the emotion they will play with facing their former coach, but emotion can only take you so far.

Mustang will ride out the storm and eventually gain control of the ballgame and eventually take over in a dominating way for a double-digit victory.

Week five: Putnam City North, win, 49-21 (5-0)

This is not the old Putnam City North football program when it was competing for state titles and making life miserable for its opponents. This PC North team will be a doormat for many 6A teams this season, and one of those teams includes Mustang.

The Broncos will jump out early and be able to rest their starters for most of the second half against the Panthers, which will come at a nice time with Norman North on the horizon the next week.

Week six: At Norman North, loss, 27-24 (5-1)

Norman North will be fired up for this one after what happened in the first round of the playoffs a year ago on its home field.

The Broncos went into Norman last year and upset the Timberwolves, ending their season. There is no doubt Norman North will have this game circled on their schedule.

Mustang and the T-Wolves will go back and forth throughout the contest, but Norman North will go on a game-winning drive and kick a field goal for the victory, handing the Broncos their first loss of the season.

Week seven: Southmoore, win, 34-24 (6-1)

This game could be a trap game for the Broncos as it sits between Norman North and Owasso.

Mustang will be coming off its first loss of the season at Norman North the week prior and with Owasso on their minds, Southmoore could sneak into Bronco Stadium and steal one away from MHS.

However, with how detailed and prepared this coaching staff is, I don’t see the letdown happening. Mustang will be ready to play this game and after a slow start, they will take control of the game and take down the Sabercats heading into the home stretch.

Week eight: At Owasso, loss, 31-24 (6-2)

Does Mustang have the talent level to go up to Owasso and beat the Rams on their home field? Yes. Will they? I’m going to have to go with no.

The Broncos will give the Rams all they want, but Owasso will be too strong on the line of scrimmage for Mustang. The Broncos offense will struggle to get going throughout the night and the defense will hold as long as they can before Owasso breaks out for several long touchdown drives to put the game away.

Week nine: Tulsa Union, loss, 35-17 (6-3)

Until someone across the state proves they can physically beat Union and Jenks other than them beating themselves, I will not pick anyone to beat those two schools.

If Mustang can hold its own on the line of scrimmage against the Redskins, they have a chance to pull off the upset at home, but if they cannot, then Union will have its way with the Broncos.

Week 10: Moore, win, 45-14 (7-3)

Following their two defeats to Owasso and Tulsa Union, Mustang will be angry and who better than to come in for a final regular season game than Moore?

The Lions were a once proud football program, but those days are long gone and the Broncos will exploit that to the highest degree.

Mustang will dominate the game on senior night at Bronco Stadium from the opening kick and close out the season with a win and capturing its second consecutive playoff berth.

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: King of the trenches

58 Larry King Senior

Football today has turned into a fast-paced, high-scoring sport that features star quarterbacks, flashy receivers and speedy running backs.
The sport is no longer a sport where big, power running backs and fullbacks are leading the way for offenses. The wishbone formation is a dinosaur and most high school football players these days weren’t even born when the option was the main offensive system across the nation.website commentary new.qxd
However, there is one constant that remains in football and that is a team will only go as far as its offensive and defensive lines take them.
There is an old saying in football and that is, “It doesn’t matter who you have in the backfield running or throwing the football, if you can’t block anyone they aren’t going anywhere.”
That is a true statement. A football team could have Adrian Peterson in the backfield or Peyton Manning as their quarterback, but it wouldn’t matter if the offensive line didn’t do its job and give Peterson holes to run through or give enough time for Manning to find his open receiver.
No one knows that more at Mustang High School than senior offensive lineman Larry King. King is going into his senior year and is considered the leader of the offensive line that graduated four out of the five starters from last year’s group.
King has been assigned the responsibility to not only open holes for the Mustang running backs to run through, but to protect Broncos star quarterback Chandler Garrett.
King said even though this group is new, they have a lot of ability and a lot of heart.
“We have a little saying where we call each other the core,” he said. “It’s kind of our way of reminding each other what our job is and what we are supposed to do. It also serves as a motivator for us. We worked hard this past summer in the weight room and on our conditioning. We aren’t going to be the biggest line, but we are going to be sound in our technique and be an athletic line.”
The only returning starter from last year’s offensive line is Coty Harper. King suffered an injury last year at the beginning of fall camp and he dealt with the injury all year. Mustang offensive coordinator Kyle Williams said if King hadn’t suffered the injury, he would be a returning starter for the Broncos.
“We consider Larry a veteran and experienced player,” he said. “He has been in the system for over a year now and he is a senior this year. The team looks to him as the leader on the offensive line.”
Even though Yukon is only one game in a 10-game regular season, King said he can’t wait for Sept. 5 to roll around so they can take on the Millers.
“We are going to be ready for that game,” he said. “They came down here and beat us on our home field last season, and we want to do the same to them this year. We know it is a long year, but we are wanting to get off to a good start this season.”

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Davis is the rock for Mustang D

8 Zach Davis Senior

In high school football, it is common for players to move around from position to position, but for Mustang senior Zach Davis, it has been a whirlwind since his sophomore year.

Davis will line up as a starter at safety this year for the Bronco football team, and it will be the fourth position he has played in his high school career for Mustang.website commentary new.qxd

As a sophomore Davis was a backup running back for the Broncos as well as a reserve outside linebacker on the defensive side of the ball for MHS. As a junior last year, Davis was moved outside under the new coaching staff as a starting cornerback. Davis lined up several plays on offense for MHS, but the majority of his duties fell on the defensive side of the ball.

Davis has put on about 30 to 40 pounds of muscle since his sophomore days at Mustang High School, so maybe that could account for the different positions the senior has seen in his tenure.

Last season, Davis excelled at the cornerback position as he used his size and strength to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, throwing the timing of the opposing offenses off in many ways. Davis is a very physical football player. He said he enjoys coming up to the line of scrimmage and making a big hit on an opposing offensive player, so the safety position is the perfect location on the field for Davis.

At the safety position, Davis will still have coverage responsibilities as he will be the back end of the defense, but he will have many more opportunities to come up to the line of scrimmage and stop the opposing run games with big hits.

Fellow senior Emilio Daugherty will be the other safety for the Broncos defense this year, and they will both be expected to lead the way as senior starters on the defense.

“As the senior leaders of the defense, Emilio and I have to be vocal and make sure that the cornerbacks, linebackers and defensive linemen know what they are doing,” Davis said. “We are looking forward to the responsibility we are going to have on the defense this year. I think we have a chance to be a really good defense if we continue to work hard and progress the way we need to.”

Davis’s rare ability to be able to come up and stop the run like a linebacker, but turn around and play coverage like a cornerback is very similar to that of Pittsburgh Steelers future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu.

Polamalu hits like a linebacker and covers like a cornerback, which is exactly what Davis does on the field for Mustang.

When it comes to expecting a lot from himself, Davis takes a backseat to no one. He will call it as he sees it at any time.

“I think the start of fall practice went really well,” Davis said. “We had high intensity and we were focused, but we got a little sloppy after that. We didn’t have as much intensity and we lost focus a little bit. Overall, I feel pretty good about how fall practice went.”

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Speed will dominate defense in 2014

Defense Two

Going into the 2013 season, one thing Mustang football had never been known for was its defense.

The Bronco football program had always been known for its high-octane offenses that lit up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree. The biggest problem Mustang had with all of those powerful offenses was its lack of defense.website commentary new.qxd

Many times during the mid-2000s, the Broncos would have to rely on their offense to win shootouts, and several games came down simply to who had the ball last.

With the departure of Ty Prestidge and entrance of Jeremy Dombek, that mentality changed 180 degrees. Prestidge brought Mark Yates to Mustang with him as the defensive coordinator. Dombek constantly refers to Yates as “the best high school defensive coordinator in the state of Oklahoma.”

Based on what Yates did with the Bronco defense in 2013 after having a short period of time to work with the players, it’s hard to argue with Dombek.

Yates brought in the 3-4 scheme on defense, changing the Broncos from what they used to run under the old regime, which was the 4-3. Yates said he believes the 3-4 is the best defensive scheme to play in today’s game because it allows you to do more things as a defense and it’s the best way to slow down the spread offense.

The Mustang defense was by no means perfect last year under its new defensive coordinator, but they were a much improved unit from what they had been in the past. Yates said having a full year to work with his players is making a big difference at this point.

“The knowledge base of our guys is really high compared to what it was a year ago,” he said. “We aren’t necessarily adding anything to our defense because the scheme will stay the same, but we are able to do a lot more as far as coverages and pressures go.”

Yates said they lost some senior leadership off last year’s defense, but he is excited about the returners he has coming back this season, and likes quite a few of the young and upcoming players on the defensive side of the football.

“In the back end at the safety position, we have seniors Zach Davis and Emilio Daugherty,” he said. “We are going to be counting on both of those guys to have big years for us this season. Juniors Kiante Miles and Jordan Greenspan will man the cornerback positions this year and they both started quite a few games a year ago.”

Yates said the linebackers will be a lot faster this year than they were last year with senior Cutter Smith and junior Cole Daniel leading the way in the middle of the defense. He said the defensive line was going to be young but full of potential as they head into the 2014 season.

Yates commented on the players’ summer work ethic and the expectations from the coaching staff.

“I think the one difference we are seeing this season compared to last year is the players know what we as coaches expect out of them every day they come to work,” he said. “They understand the expectation of this program now, so it’s easier for them to come in and do what they need to do in order to give themselves the best chance at being successful.”

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Parker ready to fly for Broncos

1 David Parker Senior

Mustang High School has its fair share of athletes who are entering this school year with high expectations, but maybe none more than senior receiver David Parker.

At the end of last spring, Bronco head football coach Jeremy Dombek said Parker was “the best athlete he has coached since he coached Justin Blackmon when he was in high school.”website commentary new.qxd

Now, if some of you out there are scratching your heads trying to figure out who Justin Blackmon is, let me refresh your memory.

Blackmon was the All-American wide receiver at Oklahoma State University several years ago and is now playing in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blackmon was one of the key reasons the Cowboys were able to get out of the Big 12 Conference cellar and win their first conference crown in school history in 2011.

So, for Dombek to say that about Parker is pretty high praise for the MHS senior. To some athletes, that kind of compliment would make them wilt away and never be seen again, but for Parker, he said he welcomes the comparison.

“That means a lot for Coach Dombek to say that about me,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for Justin Blackmon and I look up to him as a player. He is a great player. I hope I can have the same type of impact on the field for my team this year as he has had for his teams.”

Parker stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs around 185 pounds. He has the athletic ability of a panther. Parker can jump through the air to snag the football like a great white shark flying out of the sea to eat his or her dinner. He can also flat-out run by his defender at any given moment. Parker is the prototype wide receiver in football today.

In order for Parker to achieve his personal goals as a player, he knows the team goals will have to be accomplished.

“For the team, I just want us to go undefeated and win the state championship,” he said. “I know we have the talent to do that. We just have to go out there and do it. We have been working hard all offseason and in the summer. I’m not really worried about personal goals because I know as a senior for the team to be successful I have to go out and play well.”

There has been a lot of talk surrounding high school football in Class 6A in this state. This will be the first year there will be two 6A classes. 6A-1 will comprise the 16 largest schools in Oklahoma and 6A-2 will be the next 16.

With the new class and new districts, Mustang will have to play a tougher overall schedule than it has in the past. Now, instead of playing Putnam City West and Choctaw in the district, they have to play Tulsa Union and Owasso.

Parker said he is looking forward to the new challenge.

“We have to bring it every week,” he said. “We can’t take any nights off. We have to come out and play well in order to have a chance to win every week. I think we are going to handle it well. I’m looking forward to the new schedule.”

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Offense ready to light up scoreboards

Offense Two

When it comes to offensive football in the state of Oklahoma, Mustang has been one of the top high schools year-in and year-out since the early 2000s.

High-octane offenses in the mid-2000s carried the Broncos deep into the state playoffs numerous times and even got them as far as the state championship game in 2005.website commentary new.qxd

Ty Prestidge was a big part of that success as he was either the offensive coordinator or the head coach throughout those glory days for MHS football.

Prestidge resigned from his head coaching duties with the Broncos in May of 2013, leaving the Mustang football program in a pool full of question marks.

In came Jeremy Dombek shortly following the Prestidge resignation, and a new era of Bronco football was under way. Dombek kept some of the old regime on his coaching staff, but he also brought in some new blood.

One of those new faces he brought into the fold here at Mustang was offensive coordinator Kyle Williams. Given the short summer and abrupt nature of moving from one school to another, Williams said he wasn’t able to put everything into the offensive system he would have usually done in a normal amount of offseason time.

Even with the shortened preparation period, the Bronco offense was still one of the most feared in the state. Veteran players like Frankie Edwards, Colton Hadlock and Tristan Hill made sure the Mustang attack was still potent in 2013.

With help from younger and upcoming players like Chandler Garrett, David Parker, Chase Brown, Dylan Duran, Jakolby Long and Preston Ochoa, Edwards, Hadlock and Hill were able to mesh with their new offensive coordinator and help the Broncos to a quarterfinal playoff appearance.

This year, the feeling around the Mustang offense heading into the new season is completely different. With returning players like Garrett, Parker, Brown, Duran, Long and Ochoa, combined with new players like Blake Williams, Bryce Roberts and Larry King, the Broncos will once again be one of the top offenses in the state of Oklahoma.

“Having a full offseason to really put everything into the offense that we want to put in makes a big difference at this point in the year,” Williams said. “Our guys now know what to expect, but they are football-smart individuals. They pick up on things very quickly. We are excited about the guys we have coming back, and some of the young guys we have coming up will help us this year as well.”

One of the areas on offense the Broncos will have to make sure and rebuild is the offensive line. Mustang graduated four of the five starters on the offensive line from last year’s group, including Hill, who is now playing at the Division I collegiate level.

The one offensive lineman returning for MHS is Coty Harper. Williams said losing that many offensive line starters is a concern, but he is confident in this year’s group.

“We have some young guys who have been in the system now for more than a year,” he said. “They know what to expect. They have shown some really good things throughout the spring, summer and in fall practice so far.”

The area that Williams said he is most pleased with is the wide receiver position.

“We have a great combination of older, experienced guys and young guys at receiver for us,” he said. “We have a lot of depth there and that is a good thing with how we want to play. We are looking for some good things out of that group this season.”

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Leadership comes natural to Garrett

11 Chandler Garrett Junior

Being a leader can be one of the most daunting tasks asked of someone, but for Mustang junior quarterback Chandler Garrett, it comes naturally.

It seems everywhere the 6-foot-5 star QB goes, he has his own version of the “paparazzi” following close behind. If you go up to Mustang High School during school hours and want to find Garrett, you should try to find the biggest crowd because that’s where he will be.website commentary new.qxd

Garrett doesn’t ask for it, nor does he even like it, but being the quarterback of a school the size of Mustang, he better get used to it.

“It’s not something I really think about, honestly,” he said. “I am just focused on going out on the field and helping my team be successful on Friday nights. That’s my main concern every day right now.”

The junior gunslinger isn’t just a quarterback at Mustang High School. He is one of the top-recruited 2016 football prospects in the state of Oklahoma. It’s easy to understand why when you look at him and what he can accomplish on the football field.

Garrett took over the starting quarterback job midway through the year last season for the Broncos as a sophomore when the MHS coaching staff decided to move three-year starting quarterback and senior captain Frankie Edwards to running back in order to help the team be as successful as possible.

“The experience I gained last year is going to help me a lot this season,” he said. “I know what to expect now. I have played in some big games, so that won’t have any effect on me at all. I am looking forward to the challenges we are going to face this coming year and overcoming them as a team.”

The move benefited both players as Edwards is now playing college football for Oklahoma Baptist University as a running back and Garrett improved drastically as the season went along last year after he took over under center and even turning himself into a national prospect.

The move also was successful for the team, which for the Mustang coaching staff, was the ultimate reason for the decision. The Broncos made a quarterfinal playoff run with Edwards and Garrett both in the backfield for MHS.

In sports, comparisons are often made between athletes, whether it be two athletes who are competing in the same era on different levels, athletes who are in the same era and on the same level or athletes who are competing in different eras.

On the high school level, Garrett has the ability to run the ball with power like Blake Bell did for Oklahoma before he transitioned to tight end this season. However, Garrett has more speed than Bell running from the QB position.

Garrett also has the ability to throw the ball with velocity and touch similar to Sam Bradford did when he played for Putnam City North, OU and now the St. Louis Rams. Garrett’s pocket presence is also impeccable. He has the ability to get his teammates’ attention similar to what Tom Brady can do for the New England Patriots.

Ultimately, my comparison to Garrett is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, because of his enormous size, rare ability to escape the pocket under duress and make plays when his team needs him the most.

Yes, Garrett will have an enormous amount of pressure on him this season as the leader of the team combined with being a play-maker on offense, but considering the size of his shoulders, Mustang is in good hands with Garrett carrying the load.

“I don’t look at it as having more pressure on me this year,” he said. “I am a lot more comfortable at this time this year than I was last year at this point. I understand the offense more this year and am very comfortable with all of the coaches. I look at it as having less pressure because I’m more comfortable.”

PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Broncos more comfortable in year two under Dombek

Preview One

When Mustang’s football team takes the field for the season opener Sept. 5 at Yukon, the Broncos will have a different level of confidence than they did a year ago.

Heading into the Yukon game last season, Mustang was not considered by many publications to be a playoff-caliber team. The Broncos were also going into week one with a new head coach.website commentary new.qxd

Jeremy Dombek was entering his first season as the head man for Mustang, and it had been a whirlwind of a summer since he was hired in late May 2013.

Dombek brought in a state championship caliber coaching staff around him, but with only a few months before the season started, the new staff had to approach the summer a little differently than they normally would.

“It was definitely an adjustment period for everyone,” Dombek said. “It was harder on the players than the coaches because they had to learn a whole new system. We did some things similar to the previous staff, but the guys had to get used to how we liked things done.”

The struggle was apparent in the first several weeks of the regular season, as the Broncos struggled on both sides of the ball. The hardships included a disappointing opening-game loss at home to bitter-rival Yukon.

However, several weeks into the season, Mustang started to find its groove for the remainder of the regular season and came together to make a quarterfinal playoff run that ended at home in the hands of Broken Arrow in below freezing temperatures and icy conditions.

The sub-par weather conditions heavily favored the Tigers in that game as Broken Arrow was primarily a running team while the Broncos liked to air the ball out quite a bit.

Going into the 2014 season, Mustang is coming off one of the best offseasons in program history. Following the quarterfinal playoff run, the Broncos won the state championship in powerlifting during the winter months and then made a strong impact on the MHS track squad in the spring.

Mustang football players went through summer pride workouts that trumped any summer they had experienced before.

“I thought we had a tremendous summer,” Dombek said. “The guys worked really hard, and we had great numbers throughout the summer. You can definitely see the confidence level in everyone is a lot higher than it was a year ago. Not just from the players but from the coaches as well. We are a confident program right now.”

Dombek said he expects to see improvement in every facet of the game in his team this season.

“I thought the transition was a little easier offensively last year. This year, I expect the defense to see a lot of improvement. I think we have some more depth this year overall as well. Our sophomore class is pretty talented, but they still have yet to see varsity action, so the jury is still out.”

With the formation of the new 6A this season, Mustang finds itself with a schedule that will be one of the toughest in the state. In essence, the Broncos drop Choctaw and Putnam City West off their schedule (two teams that MHS should beat), and add Tulsa Union and Owasso (two teams who contend for the state title annually).

“It’s definitely going to present a unique challenge,” Dombek said. “I get asked that by a lot of people, but my answer is always the same. I don’t know how it’s going to affect us or anybody else for that matter. I know it will give us some pretty darn good football games every week.”

OU will be unbeaten on gridiron in regular season

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Here is my game-by-game prediction for the 2014 University of Oklahoma football season:

Game one: Louisiana Tech, win, 45-7 (1-0)

Head coach Bob Stoops and the Sooners have rarely started the season off with a game that will make anyone in Sooner Nation sweat.

This year will be no different as Louisiana Tech will roll into Norman for an opening-week beat-down at the hands of an OU team, who many experts believe is a shoe-in for the four-team playoff at the end of this season.

The only benefit for La Tech to come here and get throttled by the Sooners is that nice little check their university will get to cash following the game.

Game two: At Tulsa, win, 42-13 (2-0)

If Oklahoma State is the red-headed stepchild to OU, then Tulsa is the annoying little brother that won’t shut up or leave the Sooners alone.

The Golden Hurricane have a knack for giving Oklahoma fits, even when the game is in Norman, which this year is not the case.

TU will hang around early in the game as they play with a “David and Goliath” like mentality, but the Sooners will eventually pull away for a relatively easy win.

Don’t be surprised if Chapman Stadium in Tulsa has more crimson than blue in the stands during that game.

Game three: Tennessee, win, 31-17 (3-0)

You better believe the Volunteers have this game circled on their schedule, folks. Tennessee would love nothing more than to come into Norman and knock off Stoops and the Sooners.

Of course, you have the conference rivalry between the SEC and the Big 12, but Tennessee is trying to get back to being one of the elite programs in college football. A win in Norman would be a huge step in that process.

However, the Volunteers aren’t ready for what the Sooners are going to throw at them. Oklahoma has more talent, is better coached and has more experience than Tennessee and that will show in this game.

Game four: At West Virginia, win, 41-21 (4-0)

When I first looked at the Sooners schedule, this game popped out at me as a trap game for Oklahoma. OU will be sitting at 3-0 and coming off a good win against Tennessee.

West Virginia will have a potent offense as usual as Dana Holgerson continues to man the sidelines for the Mountaineers.

However, the WVU defense is constantly one of the worst defenses in the nation, and OU will exploit that in Morgantown. Sooners will win this one big.

Game five: At TCU, win, 31-10 (5-0)

The Horned Frogs will be a much improved team from last season, but they still will not be able to contend with the big boys of the Big 12 Conference.

TCU is learning why playing in a major conference is a lot more difficult than they thought it was going to be. You have to bring it every week. There are no weeks off in a big-time conference.

The Sooners will dominate this game from start to finish and move on to prepare for Texas the following the week.

Game six: Texas, win, 34-20 (6-0)

The annual Red River Showdown in Dallas is the best rivalry in all of college sports. The split of crimson and burnt orange down the middle of the stadium is truly the coolest sight in sports.

Last season, the Sooners rolled into the Cotton Bowl undefeated and were expected to drill the weary Longhorns, but Mack Brown had one more trick up his sleeve, which was simply to take the football and pound it right down Stoops and the Sooners’ throats.

In a strange way, that woke up Oklahoma and made them realize where they needed to make the most improvement in the winter and summer. OU has developed more size in the interior of its defense, so don’t look for Texas to be able to do what they did to the Sooners a year ago.

OU takes this game and stays undefeated as they enter the last half of their season.

Game seven: Kansas State, win, 27-17 (7-0)

Stoops is undefeated in games before and after Texas, so there is no reason to think that will not be the case this year when the Sooners host the Wildcats.

Bill Snyder will always give Stoops fits no matter where he plays them, but especially in Norman. K-State will stick around early in this game, but Oklahoma will find a way to pull away late and get the win.

Game eight: At Iowa State, win, 49-10 (8-0)

The Texas hangover will officially be over and the Sooners will start rolling heading into Ames. OU will open a can of you know what against the Cyclones and look like the best team in the country doing it.

ISU will be outmatched at every position and Oklahoma will put the hammer down early and often as the rout will be on for the Sooners.

Game nine: Baylor, win, 38-17 (9-0)

One thing is for certain with Stoops, if you beat him and beat him bad, you better watch out next year because he will get his revenge.

The Bears put a beating on the Sooners on national television last season in Waco. OU will be going for the same outcome, but reversed this year in Norman.

Oklahoma will get what they are looking for as the crowd will be crazy and the Sooners will run wild on BU, keeping their undefeated season alive.

Game 10: At Texas Tech, win, 27-12 (10-0)

This is the game right here. If Oklahoma can go down to Lubbock and get a big road win against the pesky Red Raiders, they will go undefeated in the regular season and go on to play in the college football playoff.

If this Sooner defense is going to be as good as the OU coaching staff thinks it’s going to be, then this is the game where they will shine.

Look for the OU D to suffocate the Texas Tech offense and make life miserable for Kingsbury and Company. OU walks out of Lubbock still unblemished.

Game 11: Kansas, win, 56-0 (11-0)

The Kansas Jayhawks should just cancel their football program and put all of their money into their basketball team, but ladies and gentlemen, they are just awful.

I think Mustang High School might give the Sooners a better contest than KU will. It would sure be more entertaining to watch, that’s for sure.

Game 12: Oklahoma State, win, 33-14 (12-0)

Bedlam is always an exciting atmosphere in this state. The Sooners are the much better team across the board this season, but this game is one of the most unpredictable games across the country.

OSU will keep the game close for the majority of the game, but OU will break away late and secure a slot in the first ever Division I college football playoffs.

Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at ksalomon@mustangnews.info.