March 7, 2008

Lots of talent in Southwest Oklahoma

In the pantheon of the state of Oklahoma's elite programs, few can hold a candle to mighty Clinton. The Western Oklahoma powerhouse is one of those programs who can be penciled into the class semi-finals (whether it be 4A or 3A) each and every year. However, through the years truly elite nationally recruited players have been few and far between in spite of all of the success.

However coach Mike Lee, normally very modest about heaping praise upon any singular player or coach, says that he may have a special one in 2010 running back Delance Griffin.

"He was injured a lot last year and was never quite right after the first few games but he has a chance to be a special player for us," Lee said.

Compared to some coaches that would seem to be a very modest evaluation of a player that has whispers of greatness all around the Clinton hallways, but for Lee that's a glowing review of his potential star.

Griffin who shared time and still ran for nearly 600 yards in seven games was never fully healthy through the season but it's clear that he could be a player competing for the state's top spot down the line.

One of the backs he shared some time with is senior to be Antonio Huddlin and although Huddlin did some work at running back Lee sees his future in the defensive backfield.

"We've played him out of position for the last few years but I think he can get some work in at cornerback and I think he can be a good player there," the state championship head coach said. "He is a guy that can really run so he'll be a good fit out there."

Clinton has a few other players that Lee thinks has a chance to play some division one ball but admits that right now there are a few too many questions to say anything for certain.

Another Sooner Sawatzky?

In the first stop of the day the trip down I-40 took to another prestigious West Oklahoma program, Weatherford high. Head coach Woody Roof admits that it's a bit of a lean period as far as division one talent but can't deny that there is one player that stands out above the rest.

The player is one with a last name that Sooner fans will remember from Weatherford teams of years past, the player is 2010 linebacker prospect Kale Sawatzky. Sawatzky is the nephew of former Sooner offensive lineman Mike who played under both Barry Switzer and Gary Gibbs, including being All Big-Eight First team in 1990.

One would think a family lineage like that might lead Sawatzky to have an air of expectation but Roof says that he is one of those player that you simply can't have enough of in high school football.

"He is just a tireless work and has a motor that goes all the time. If I had 11 like him, I wouldn't have to do any work, I could just sit here in my office and relax," Roof joked.

Unsurprisingly Sawatzky grew up as a Sooner fan and attended Oklahoma's summer camp last year as a high school freshman, Roof said he'd yet to have a conversation with the Oklahoma coaches but admits that he was told the Sooners had taken a real interest.

"I was told he did very well out there and that Oklahoma expressed some interest in him. I know that they are definitely aware of him," he finished.

Big Mac Back, Again

While Clinton and Weatherford have been dominant programs for decades Lawton MacArthur has been built from the ground up in recent years by Ernie Manning. That building process was greatly aided in the early years by his son Brett Manning who went onto stardom at UCO as one of Gary Howard's best quarterbacks. Now the younger Manning finds himself back in Lawton coaching for his father.

While the Highlanders head man was out of town on Thursday his son filled in admirably and informed that there are three Mac seniors to be who have a chance to follow in the footsteps of other division one talents like Jammal Brown and David Anderson as highly recruited prospects.

Leading the way is safety prospect Javon Harris who Manning says already holds an offer from Kansas State and is getting attention from most of the Big 12 followed by offensive line prospect Stetson Burnett. Manning thinks perhaps the best prospect on the team, inside linebacker Julian Jones, is also the most enigmatic.

"He is about 6-foot-2, and 240-pounds and has a college-ready body, he just needs to get his head on straight and focus on football," Brett Manning explained.

While Jones is a prodigious physical talent Harris is a guy that does a bit of everything for the Highlanders starring as both a strong safety as well as a running back and makes one big play after another in his MacArthur highlight reel.

"He is a very good player and also runs track here so he has good speed and just makes a lot of plays," he said.

On Friday stops will be made by Lawton high, Chickasha, Duncan, Comanche, Marlow and Newcastle.

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