Game of the Week: Weatherford @ Newcastle
The Eagles return 7 offensive and 11 defensive starters to a team that bowed out in the first round of the playoffs in 2022. Newcastle put up a great fight against Elk City in Round 1 last year, and they return a bulk of their production from 2022. Is one or both of these teams in the group that’ll challenge Wagoner? Week 0 will give us our first clues. Stone Chism will get his shot at replacing QB Reece Villines at the helm of the Eagles’ offense. He has an embarrassment of riches at the skill position spots. Jackson Blackmon returns to tote the rock. On the outside CJ Nickson, a top 100 player nationally in the 2025 recruiting class, and Nick Jett provide speed to burn.
Bounce Back Year: Clinton @ Kingfisher
One on hand the 2022 version of the Red Tornadoes was a 3 OT loss at Poteau away from a semifinal matchup with the eventual champs. On the other hand Clinton lost to both I-40 rivals, Elk City & Wford, in the same season for only the 3rd time since 1988. Clinton returns a handful of starters on each side of the ball including QB Cooper Sulley. Kyntavion Hill has shown flashes of being the Clinton running back teams have feared for decades. It’ll be interesting to see if last year was just a blip on the Red Tornado radar, or if Clinton has fallen a little off the pace being set in 4A-1.
Program Building: Elk City @ Altus
Winning records for 3 years straight have been an anomaly for the Elk City Elks. Big Elk football hasn’t had 3 straight winning seasons since ’97-’99. That is the challenge laid in front of this year’s version of the Brown and White. With games scheduled in the non district against Canadian, TX and Carl Albert to go along with the 4A-1 battles, Elk City can’t afford many stumbles early. Altus figures to be much improved with Head Coach Jeremy Reed back to lead the Bulldogs. Reed led Altus to the 2015 5A State Title. The Elks will have to replace 18 seniors for the second straight year. There’s optimism throughout the program this team will figure it out, but the question no one knows the answer to is how long it will take.