OKLAHOMA CITY – While the bigger schools such as Jenks and Union often steal the spotlight in the media, some of the best football and passionate fans come from the "smaller" classes.
Class A football in Oklahoma has a solid tradition and should continue to provide some exciting football in 2011-12.
Woodland rolled through the season undefeated last year – find out whether they are the favorites to repeat or if another team will rise up to knock off the defending champs.
What Happened Last Year
Who says low-scoring, defensive battles aren't good for the game? In one of the most intense games of the season last year – regardless of class – Woodland knocked off Stratford 6-0 in overtime at Oklahoma State University to take the state title. It was the fifth football state championship in program history, and the team's first since changing its name from Fairfax. Stratford made its first state championship game appearance in any sport.
Woodland didn't necessarily have an easy path to the title game, but was still impressive knocking off Velma-Alma in the quarterfinals and taking down Thomas by 20 points in the semis. Stratford entered the championship game with plenty of momentum after a 33-14 blowout of Morrison, but couldn't keep up the scoring pace in the big game.
Some skeptics claimed that Stratford's side of the bracket wasn't as tough as Woodlands, for many postseason polls still had schools such as Thomas and Velma-Alma in front of the Bulldogs. But Stratford showed it belongs right up there at the top with the impressive defensive performance in the championship game. Both of last year's state title game participants should be right in the mix for this year's race to the top.
Players to Watch
Spencer Venus, Morrison – Morrison played on both sides of the ball, but looks like a legitimate pro-style quarterback dropping back in the pocket. Venus put up 1,653 passing yards and 21 touchdowns last season while leading his team to the state semifinals. He also rushed for 500 yards and five scores. Venus was named to the All-Area Team and was a two-time Area Athlete of the Week. Venus should lead a Morrison team ready to make a serious run at the postseason, but they will have to go through a tough district to get there.
Britt Basler, Cashion – Basler plays both linebacker and wide receiver for the Wildcats. Despite standing just 5-foot-10 and weighing in at about 180 pounds, he made up for it with incredible speed on both sides of the ball and elusiveness after the catch. Basler is most effective in a Wes Welker-type role, catching short slants and screens and making plays happen with the ball in his hands, but he is also plenty capable of catching a long bomb and will give defenses as many problems as anyone in the class.
Kael Groff, Wayne – Groff is one of the top pass rushers in the class, specializing in getting to the quarterback and racking up QB hurries and sacks. Groff is 5-10, 180 pounds but using quickness and agility to get around bigger offensive linemen with ease.
Early Look Top Five