No earthquake was needed to change the landscape next autumn for local high school football teams.
Seismic changes have taken place as a result of the OSSAA’s biennial district realignment — including changing classes for some schools and fostering district rivalries for others.
Following is a closer look.
Pawhuska graduated some key players from last year’s 11-2 team, but still returns All-World quarterback Bryce Drummond and other fleet athletes and rugged linemen.
Pawhuska surged to a 9-0 mark before falling to Pawnee in the district title game, 46-40. The Huskies snapped back to win two playoff games — including stunning Stroud on its homefield, 34-26, before being eliminated in the Class A quarterfinals by Ringling, 28-12.
Following is a closer look at area districts.
Barnsdall District B-7
Perhaps the biggest transformation among area teams is the move of the Panthers from 11-man football down to eight-man competition.
Had this happened last season, the senior-boosted Panthers might have been a serious contender for the Class B state title. But, the Panthers are going to have to break a large chunk of a new battalion, including grooming a new starting quarterback, a new feature running back, a couple of new game-breaking receivers and some new defensive gladiators.
The district consists of some highly-respected eight-man programs, including Covington-Douglas and others.
Barnsdall left the 11-man ranks with a thunderous statement —a 9-4 record and near run to the Class A state semifinals.
The Panthers surged to a 7-3 regular season record, including losses to eventual state quarterfinalists Pawhuska and Pawnee.
Barnsdall rang up 48-or-more points three times and scored no fewer than 12 points in its first 12 games.
Bartlesville District 6A-II-2
The Bruins won’t have to endure too many adjustments, as the district retained five traditional foes — Bixby, Tulsa Washington, Muskogee, Ponca City and Sand Springs.
The two new programs are Choctaw and Putnam City West.
Bartlesville recorded a 3-7 mark last year — but still finished just two plays shy of making the playoffs.
Dewey, Nowata District 2A-8
Dewey and Nowata will battle in the same district for the first time in several years, moving back their traditional week one meeting to sometime later in the season.
Other powerhouses in what might be the toughest 2A district in the state include Rejoice Christian, Sperry, Adair and Claremore-Sequoyah.
Dewey rolled to an historic 7-3 regular season mark last year — the program’s best in 25 years.
Nowata snapped back from a 1-9 record in 2018 — and an 0-10 mark in 2017 — to finished 5-6, including its first playoff appearance since 2016.
Caney Valley District A-6
Coming off an 0-10 season, the Trojans return most their players from last year and also have dropped from Class 2A back into the Class A ranks.
But, the roster of teams in the district includes a few big dogs such as Hominy, Morrison and Pawnee, not to ignore Woodland and others. This is the only seven-team district in 2A, which means the Trojans will have four non-district dates.
Despite failing to win a game, the Trojans gained valuable seasoning for their painfully-young squad of willing stallions.
Pawhuska, Oklahoma Union District A-5
Pawhuska powered to a couple of lopsided wins — one in non-district, the other in the playoffs — against Oklahoma Union last season. But, Oklahoma Union’s stock is on the rise and the Cougars could be very competitive in the district, which also includes a traditionally tough Commerce powerhouse.
Oklahoma Union recorded the second-best regular season record (7-3) in school history, which included signature wins against Nowata and Caney Valley.
Copan, Wesleyan Christian District C-3
Perhaps one of the preliminary questions might be whether Copan will field its own team, or whether it will reach a co-op agreement with another district team. Two years ago, Copan and WCS combined; last season Copan and South Coffeyville were joined at the hip.
Wesleyan Christian bid good-bye after last season to a large percentage of senior standouts and eyes a tremendous rebuilding project, barring some experienced athletes joining the team.
Copan has fallen just short the last two seasons of having enough healthy, eligible bodies to face the rigors of a 10-game campaign.
Wesleyan Christian School recorded a 4-5 record during a tumultuous campaign that saw one of its games cancelled due to the death of a player on that team.
WCS set a school single-game scoring record in a season opener 78-54 win against Wellston, and would score 46-or-more points in four more games — including a 102-55 loss to Depew.
The South Coffeyville/Copan squad started off strong with a 24-12 triumph against Webbers Fall.
But, SC/Copan finished at 3-7, with just two more wins, one against Welch and the other against Olive.
SC/Copan suffered five setbacks by shutouts, but averaged 27 points in its other five games.