Completion of 7-on-7 season provides glimpse of 2019 Tigers
Just like recent summer passing leagues the Broken Arrow Tigers entered the month-long-plus 7-on-7 season without a returning starter at quarterback. Along with that, the defending Class 6A State Champions also need to fill a couple of receiver spots, both outside linebacker positions and one cornerback spot.
“Seven-on-Seven is a great tool for evaluating your kids,” said BA head varsity football coach David Alexander. “It’s competition. You’re going against other really good football programs. You’re going to tournaments and trying to win those tournaments. You can really tell some things about kids individually.
“You put a lot on their plates and a lot of competition on them when the clocks running to see how they react. Hopefully, you’ll have someone step up and win a job.”
It appears junior Jake Raines has grabbed the reins on the 2019 starting quarterback position.
“Jake Raines stepped up and has taken the number one spot,” Alexander said. “He had a fantastic tournament in Springdale (Ark.). We won a ton of games. He’s really grown as a leader. He’s put in more work than anybody else at that position. He’s staying late and doing extra things. He’s doing everything a coach wants to see from a young man.”
Just behind Raines is fellow-junior Seth Dodd, who is “a sprained big toe away from having to go in and win a football game,” Alexander said. The coach added that he expects Dodd will do the things necessary to be ready when called upon.
Broken Arrow wasn’t alone in auditioning starting quarterbacks for the 2019 season in the local Monday night summer league. The three other teams – Owasso, Jenks and Union – in the league also will start the season with a new signal caller.
“There’s an arms race to see who can get their team ready fastest to have them ready for district play,” Alexander said. “In a way, it’s like that at every position, but it’s amplified at the quarterback position because everybody is looking at it.”
Each 7-on-7 game was a chance for Alexander to assess his entourage of skill position players and not just the quarterbacks. At receiver, the lone returning starter is Isaiah Keller, the team’s second-leading wideout a year ago. Keller had an estimated 65 catches in the two-day Springdale tournament last weekend.
While Keller will most likely be the top target this fall, senior Tohrion Dillard “has earned himself a starting spot. He had a real good summer,” Alexander said.
“At the other receiver spot we’re going to have a little competition,” the coach said. “Some of that is going to fall with who is going to win that one corner spot. We had several guys do a really good job out there."
Those names include:
Senior Ty Rozell: “He had a really good second day in Springdale.”
Sophomore Maurion Horn: “He could be corner or receiver. He has tremendous ball skills.”
Junior Keyon Barnett: “It’s a new position for him, but he’s explosive once he gets the ball in his hands.”
In the defensive backfield the Tiger defense is solid at safety with Bryce Mattioda and Myles Slusher returning. The Tulsa World ranks Slusher first in its regional All-World Defensive Backs list while Mattioda comes in at number seven. Each player had three interceptions for the Tigers last season.
In front of those guys, senior middle linebacker Campbell Yeager returns, however, two now-Big 12 linebackers – Zach Marcheselli (TCU) and Gavin Potter (Kansas) – will need to be replaced. Marcheselli’s younger brother Zeno, who actually started a game when Zach was out with an injury, “has a nose ahead of the competition because he played quite a few varsity snaps last year,” Alexander said.
Also in the mix is junior Darryan Moss, who “had the most productive weekend in Springdale of all the linebackers,” Alexander said. “He got his hands on more balls and did more things…he really looks like a difference maker at linebacker. He’s pretty incredible looking when he puts on his gear.”
With the league games being all passes, coach will still be evaluating how the linebackers “fit” the run game. Alexander also mentioned junior Logan Stovall and sophomore Jadahain Floyd-Wright as guys who will battle for time at linebacker as well.
“It was a very good seven-on-seven season, especially offensively, with all the new guys we are going to start,” Alexander said. “When you look out there like the other night when the offense is on the field, there’s only one guy who has played in a varsity game, and that’s Keller, so a lot of new faces in the skilled positions. But I’m really proud of what they have done.”