Guthrie offense: overall good but work to do after scrimmage
There were positions on the field in the Guthrie offense that many were excited to come out and watch Friday evening in a three-way scrimmage with Douglass and Bishop Kelley, but a majority of the eyes were watching the big boys up front.
The BlueJays, Trojans and Comets met up once again at Langston University for the first scrimmage of the high school season. The trio of teams were being watched closely by Langston’s new athletic director and former Heisman trophy winner Mike Garrett.
Garrett and the respectable crowd inside Anderson Stadium saw highlight plays by Bryan Dutton, Kai Callins, J.T. McFadden, Cody Reihs and L’liott Curry. If those playmakers want to have a successful season, it may very well depend on the newly rebuilt offensive line.
“I thought they (offensive line) played extremely well tonight in spurts. I thought we pass blocked extremely well,” 12th year head coach Rafe Watkins said just outside the Booster Club’s hot dog stand. ”We did not have much pressure on us, but we threw the ball well.”
The line will have to replace four players from last year’s state championship team and all five positions will have a new name.
The line will be anchored by senior Evan Plagg, who will make the transition from right tackle to left tackle and be a primary blocker for the Guthrie skilled ball carriers. Coaches rave how strong Plagg has gotten over the summer and the 6’4 265 pounder showed it in the trenches.
Sophomore Conan Maltz will take over the right guard position while junior Dakota Coonfield will command the all-important center position in the shot-gun formation offensive set.
“We feel comfortably on our left side and Coonfield is doing a good job at center. He gets out man sometimes because he is not very big, but we have had some small centers before,” Watkins explained.
Watkins said they’re working four players out for the two positions along the right side of the line of scrimmage. Senior Henry Hornsby and junior Baylor Wilhem shared snaps at guard while juniors Cory Douglass and Payton Haynes competed at the right tackle.
The group of lineman allowed several big holes for Dutton and McFadden to run through, including a 20-yard touchdown run and a 40-yard carry for McFadden. The speedy McFadden will be called upon to help the running game, along with Callins.
The duo of Callins and McFadden as well as the program received news that junior move-in Tre Smith was declared eligible to play immediately by the OSSAA last week. Smith, the son of the new Langston president Dr. Kent J. Smith Jr., will help spell Callins and McFadden, who will be called upon to play every down on defense.
The passing game looked sharp behind the right-arm of four-year starter in Dutton. Dutton competed a 15-yard pass to Reihs to begin the scrimmage and later found Reihs again for a 35-yard touchdown pass on the fifth play from scrimmage.
“We just take it (Dutton’s ability to make plays) for granted because we have seen it for so long. It’s not flashy, it’s just so consistent and we are pretty spoiled from it,” Watkins said.
“He should have a great senior year and we are expecting good things. I am very proud of his leadership that he is getting started on because he has never been a vocal leader and he’s still not where I want to get him.”
If the scrimmage is any indication on how the season will play out, Curry could very well have an exciting season. The sophomore, who was the defensive stopper on last year’s state-qualifying basketball team, highlighted his receptions with a score.
Dutton found Curry for a 16-yard score and back-up quarterback Reed Roberts spotted the wide-out for a 40-yard pickup.
All was not great with the receiving core, as they were not up to par to begin the 12-play scrimmage against Douglass in the blocking department, but after several coaching moments by Watkins and receiver’s coach Ric Meshew the group turned it on against Kelley.
“The first series the skinny lineman (receivers) did not block well – we challenged them – but they came on later JT’s run. We were pleased the way they came on later on with their blocking,” Watkins said.
“Overall, we (coaches) were pretty pleased, but we do have a long way to go,” Watkins said.
The Guthrie offense will have one more outing before kicking the season off for good against Duncan on August 31 when they scrimmage Piedmont, on Thursday, at Jelsma Stadium.