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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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Numerous volunteers and members of the Mustang Youth Football Association have turned the Mustang youth football facility from unusable to one of the top fields in the area.
The city of Mustang put $1.7 million into the new Little League baseball complex, but has put zero dollars into the youth football facility. The city has donated mowers and other lawn equipment to the MYFA as well as help clean out the ditch that runs through the park.
Through volunteer work, the MYFA has spent roughly $4,000 on upgrades to the youth football field and facilities in the park.
Louis Krivanek, MYFA board president, said without help from the volunteers, there would be no youth football in Mustang this year.
“The field looks great,” he said. “We have watered it constantly and improved the facilities around the field as well. The concession stand looks like a new building, and we have a press box on the way. We have reversed the bleachers so the home-side bleachers are nicer and they look more like football bleachers.”
The area surrounding the main game field used to have fencing that was falling down and shrubbery all around it. The volunteers cleaned all that shrubbery off the area and made room for teams to warm up before their games.
The MYFA ordered 2,000 feet of black mesh to put around the fencing they could not tear down. Games will get under way tonight as the 11-year-old teams will play their preseason round-robin.
“Our goal is to make our facility look as modern as possible,” Krivanek said. “We are repainting and repairing everything we can to make this facility as impressive as possible.”
The ages that will be playing for the MYFA this fall are 6-year-olds through 11-year-olds, first-graders through sixth-graders. So far, the MYFA has 14 teams signed up to play this year, which is the most they have ever had. Roughly 180 new children have signed up to play football this year.
“Our goal is to have around four teams per age group, so we are pleased with the numbers we have this year,” Krivanek said. “We would like that number to keep increasing.”
Krivanek said the MYFA has entered a verbal contract with a company to come in this winter and redo the main game field and then turn one of the practice fields into another game field, so they can play two games at once.
“If we can play two games at once, that would totally eliminate having to play on Saturdays,” he said. “Right now, we still have to play a couple Saturday games, but if we can build another game field, we would just play on weeknights.”
Krivanek said this job wouldn’t get done if it wasn’t for the help of all of the volunteers for the MYFA, including Travis Helling, who is the vice president of the MYFA.
Mustang City Parks and Recreation Director Justin Battles said the city has helped out with the youth football facility a little bit, but the majority of the work has been done by the MYFA.
“They deserve all the credit,” he said. “They have been working tirelessly to make that facility the best it possibly can be. They have added practice space, improved the game field and updated the facilities. It’s really been impressive.”
The MYFA just recently started a website that shows all the information about the Mustang Youth Football Association and how people can help in any way. The website also allows for people to sign up to play in the league. The website is www.mustangyouthfootball.net. Sign-ups for football are May 1 through July 1.
Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The Lady Broncos softball team made quick work of Putnam City West on the road Thursday afternoon with a five-inning 11-0 win over the Patriots.
Freshman Kylie Dodson came in for Chestnut in the bottom of the third inning and held Putnam City West scoreless in two innings of duty in the circle. Dodson had three strikeouts with no walks and allowed two hits in her first varsity outing.
Junior Lexi Vargas started at first base for Mustang, but came in to close the game in the circle in the bottom of the fifth. Vargas had three strikeouts and walked one batter in her one inning of action.
The MHS offense was potent against the Lady Patriots’ pitching as the Broncos scored in three out of the five innings in the contest. Mustang scored three runs in the first inning, four runs in the second and four in the third inning. They were scoreless in innings four and five.
Senior catcher Jaquelyn Kelm was explosive at the plate for the Lady Broncos as she finished the night with four RBIs on a two-run home run and a two-run double. Fellow senior Caisey Jones was also solid at the plate as the shortstop logged three hits in the game.
Overall, the Mustang defense allowed just four Putnam City West base runners while the offense had 14 total hits in the first game of the season.
Mustang head coach Bryan Howard said he was pleased with the first game of the year.
“It was a good win. Any win is a good win. It’s a good way to start for us. We got a lot of good work in today. Our short game was good today and we got three different pitchers in the game, which helped us get ready for Broken Arrow.”
Lady Broncos go 4-2 in Broken Arrow tournament
Despite dropping their first two games of the event, the Mustang softball team had a strong weekend in BA, going 4-2 in the tournament.
The Bronco girls lost two one-run games to Chickasha, 5-4, and Owasso, 4-3. They defeated Poteau, 8-0, hung on to beat Westmoore, 8-7, shut down Coweta, 2-0, and had their way with Cleveland, 8-0.
Following the tournament, Mustang’s overall record was 5-2.
Chestnut pitched a perfect game for the Lady Broncos against Cleveland.
Howard said he was proud of the way the girls competed throughout the weekend.
“We made several mistakes, but all of the mistakes we made were because we were thinking ahead too much,” he said. “I can handle those kinds of mistakes because you can fix those. We start five freshmen right now, so for the first 15 games or so, we are going to make mistakes, but I’m very proud of the way we bounced back to win four in a row.”
The Lady Broncos traveled to Putnam City North on Monday and played their first regular season home game on Tuesday evening against Norman. Both games are district contests.
Mustang will participate in the Southmoore Festival at 12:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First-year head coach Caitlyn Bernhardt couldn’t have asked for a better start to her coaching career than the one she got last weekend at the Bishop McGuinness tournament.
The Lady Broncos volleyball team played five matches in the two-day event, winning four out of the five and making it to the tournament championship game, where they would eventually fall to host team Bishop McGuinness.
“I’m honestly kind of shocked with how well we played,” Bernhardt said. “I knew we had the ability and the talent to play well, but we lost a lot of players from last year’s group, so I didn’t expect these young girls to come in and play the way they played in their first varsity experience. It was really great to see.”
Mustang opened up the tournament against Putnam City North. MHS made quick and easy work of the Lady Panthers with a three games to none sweep to open their regular season.
In their second contest of the event, the Bronco girls took on Choctaw, a team that has given them fits over the past several years. Mustang won a thrilling match against the Yellowjackets, three games to two.
MHS took the first two games of the match, but Choctaw responded by taking the next two games, forcing a fifth and deciding game. The Lady Broncos were able to hold off the Yellowjackets and get their second win of the season.
The Broncos then took on Putnam City and handled the Lady Pirates with relative ease, winning that match three games to one.
In the semifinal match-up, Mustang took on Midwest City. MHS would prevail in the contest, but they would need another five games to do it. Unlike the Choctaw match, the Lady Broncos and Lady Bombers traded games with Mustang winning games one, three and five, while MWC won games two and four.
In the championship match, the Bronco girls took on the host of the tournament, Bishop McGuinness, one of the top volleyball programs in all of Class 5A.
The Fighting Irish took care of business against Mustang, ending the winning streak and handing the Lady Broncos their first loss of the 2014 season.
“I was really impressed with our offense,” Bernhardt said. “I thought we moved the ball around really well and our play around the net was really good. We lost a lot of height from last year’s group, so for our younger girls around the net to play the way they did was a great sign for the future.”
The Lady Broncos opened dual play this week as they played host to Putnam City North on Tuesday evening. MHS hosts defending Class 6A state champion Edmond Santa Fe at 6 p.m. tonight at the Wellness Center at Mustang High School.
The Broncos travel to Westmoore Friday and Saturday for a two-day tournament this weekend.
“Even though we played well and got off to a good start, we still have a lot of room to improve,” Bernhardt said. “Obviously, it was a great way to start for us, but it’s a long season. We have to keep working hard and getting better.”
Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at email@example.com.