ELGIN – Moving to Class 5A will certainly be a challenge for the Elgin Owls when the 2022 football season kicks off, but fourth-year head coach Chalmer Wyatt has no doubts his team will be ready for battle.
Elgin returns seven starters on offense and seven more on defense, which is a good sign for the 29-year-old Wyatt.
“We started three freshmen last year and seven the year before. It’s been a challenge in that regard but we’re getting older,” he said. “We will better than in the past although the new (5A) district will present us some challenges. But I know we’ll be prepared to battle.”
Elgin finished its last Class 4A season in 2021 with a 4-6 mark, missing last year’s playoffs by one win.
Sophomore quarterback Tres Lorah returns for his second season under center after throwing for 1,393 yards and seven touchdowns during his freshman year. He also registered 11 interceptions.
Still, Wyatt has high expectations for the young QB.
“We look forward to having him for the next few years. At 5-11, 190 pounds, he has a good arm, and he has good accuracy. Plus, we think he can contribute to the running game. The lead running back for the Owls will be junior Matthew Lund who racked up more than 1,600 all-purpose yards last season. Lund rushed for 1,355 yards on 210 carries while scoring 13 touchdowns and averaging 6.5 yards per rush. In the season finale, Lund ran for almost 300 yards.
Although Wyatt is confident about the 2022 season, he has emphasized to the Owls they will have to scrap for every yard.
“The playoffs are our goal,” he said. “We know we’ve got to fight for everything we earn. Our fate is in our hands.”
Elgin last went to the playoffs in 2017, but has never won a state title.
“It’s time to get back there (playoffs) and we’ve got a chance to do it this year,” Wyatt said.
The 2022 season, which begins Sept. 2 at Anadarko, will bring more of the same offensive attack with a pistol shotgun formation.
“We’re going to stay with the same scheme, which will be simple but with multiple formations,” Wyatt said. “We’re going to run the ball a lot and throw it deep when we can. Whatever the defense lets us have, we’re going to take a shot at it.”
Wyatt also expects senior wide receivers Austin Elam (5-10, 155 pounds) and Treyvon Crabtree (5-8, 173) to have significant playing time as two of Lorah’s top targets. Crabtree is the team’s top returning receiver with 26 catches and 255 yards from last season. Lund was also used in the passing game in 2021 with 16 catches for 273 yards, including a 78-yard reception, and three touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Michael Adesola also returns after catching 21 balls for 366 yards last season.
The offensive line will be led by Keith Ferguson (6-1, 281), who is also expected to play defensive tackle. Wyatt said several linemen will play offense and defense since the Owls don’t have exceptional size, but are quick and agile.
Sophomore Jace Williams (6-1, 258) senior Clay Underhill (5-10, 191) and sophomore Shay Spencer (5-11, 233) are also expected to play on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Wyatt mentioned junior Jack Anglley (6-2, 172) as an edge rusher who can hurry opposing quarterbacks.
Overall, the Elgin defensive scheme will be a 3-4 lineup, which Wyatt said fits his players more than a traditional 4-3.
“We can be balanced in the 3-4,” he said. “We have the players for that.”
That includes the team’s top returning tackler Colyn Donnelly (6-1, 199) who will play one of the inside linebacker positions. Donnelly finished last season with 55 tackles.
Playing the cornerback positions will be Adesola, senior Toby Parker (5-9, 155), Elam and several underclassmen who will split duties at that spot. Meanwhile Lund is expected to play at the free safety position.
Junior Gabe Dittmeyer (6-1, 170) returns to handle field goals and kickoffs while senior Nacona Tahdooahnippah and Donnelly will likely split punting chores.
Last season, Donnelly punted 21 times for a 30-yard average while Tahdooanippa booted the ball 18 times for a 31-yard average.
“We like our (special teams) system,” Wyatt said. “When you can make a big play on special teams that can be a game changer. We have a good group of kids we can put in those units.”
After its season opener at Anadarko, Elgin stays on the road with a Sept. 9 game at Cache. The Owls will play their home opener Sept. 16 against Weatherford. Elgin kicks off district action Sept. 23 when El Reno comes to town.
The remaining District 5A-1 foes are Ardmore, Altus, Noble, Duncan, Lawton MacArthur and Midwest City. Homecoming is set for Oct. 21 against Duncan. All game times are scheduled for 7 p.m.
Elgin has two scrimmages before the season opens. The Owls host the Bethany Bronchos Friday, Aug. 19. Then the Owls travel to Harrah to face the Panthers on Thursday, Aug. 25. Both games start at 6 p.m.