Gerald Goodridge, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Since 2007 and across two classes, Cascia Hall and Heritage Hall have been two of the most dominant schools in the state.
The line for Class 3A starts behind defending champion Heritage Hall, which claimed a Gold Ball by a touchdown margin a year ago. It's easy to say that the Chargers boast two of the top offensive talents in the state, regardless of class.
Barry Sanders, Jr. – son of NFL Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders – has already been named the top recruit in the state by most recruiting services, and is one of the more highly coveted 2012 recruits nationally. An ankle injury in Week 6 ended his season, but Sanders still finished with 1,168 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, Sterling Shepard may have been more valuable to the Chargers in 2010. The Oklahoma commit accounted for 1,590 total offensive yards and 28 touchdowns in their State Championship run. The do-everything man even grabbed eight interceptions and served as a return man. If he can replicate his success in his senior season, Heritage Hall may be raising another Gold Ball.
Those two may be two of the top offensive talents in the state, but neither of them sniffed the offensive production of Anadarko's Sheldon Wilson. In his junior campaign, Wilson rushed 261 times for 2,798 yards and 49 touchdowns. That's not a typo, 49 touchdowns. Listed at 5-foot-10-inches and 170 pounds, he's not the biggest back in the world, but his ability to break tackles and change directions on a dime makes him a big-play threat.
The Warriors also return senior quarterback Tyler Melton, who doesn't have too much pressure on his shoulders, but completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and threw just two interceptions in 2010. If he can continue to manage the games and allow Wilson to rack up yardage, Anadarko should be able to make another postseason run.
But it's not just offense that can make a team dangerous; take the Cascia Hall Commandos as an example. In 2010, Cascia Hall made its living on defense, holding opponents to seven points or less in seven of its 10 regular season games. The standout on the defensive unit is Tulsa commit Conner Sherwood, who racked up 89 tackles, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and two sacks in his junior season.
Kingfisher may have a lot to say about the Class 3A title picture as well. A year after advancing to State Championship game and playing Heritage Hall to a seven-point game, the Yellowjackets are ready to make another run at a Gold Ball.
Former quarterback Derek Patterson is now suiting up for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, but Kingfisher return one of its young studs. As a freshman, Landon Nault rushed for 1,345 yards and 20 touchdowns on 240 carries to help lift the Yellowjackets to the state semifinals.
A pair of dual-threat quarterbacks from opposite sides of the state will have a big part to play in how Class 3A shakes out; Beggs' Ramsey Hamilton and Purcell's Cole Swayze.
Swayze is a three-year starter for the Dragons, whose freshman and junior campaigns were both shortened by major injuries; a broken femur as a freshman and a torn ACL in 2010. His durability may be in doubt, but his abilities on the field are not. Despite playing in just 21 games in three seasons – leading Purcell to an 18-3 record during that time – he has an offer on the table from the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The Demons advanced to the state quarterfinals a year ago and Hamilton's performance had quite a bit to do with it. The 6-foot-2-inch, 180-pound signal caller racked up 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns in his junior campaign and was invited to the Elite 11 this summer. Running a 4.58 40-yard dash, he's able to get it done both on the ground and in the air.