Huskies launch into fall practice

Mike Tupa
Mason Gilkey, a PHS wide receiver, caught four touchdown passes in the Huskies' victory over Barnsdall last season. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital file

Perhaps no other area prep football team surges into this season with superior prospects of success than the Pawhuska High School Huskies.

Being propelled by the tailwind of momentum from last year’s 10-2 campaign — which ended in the Class A quarterfinals — the Huskies return one of the state’s elite quarterbacks, a frightening front on defense, an indomitable front wall on offense, last year’s state sacks’ leader, and an army of skill players that will haunt the skulls of opposing coaches and players.

The Huskies settled down to business on Monday with their opening practice. They are slated to work all week from 6 to 9 p.m.

“We had a great summer,” third-year Pawhuska head coach Matt Hennesy said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back.”

Leading the list is quarterback Bryce “Mt. Huskie” Drummond. Last spring, 247 Sports listed him as No. 33 in the nation among pro-style quarterbacks and No. 18 in the class of 2021. He already has committed to play football at North Texas, a NCAA Division I program.

Last season, Drummond accounted for more than 60 touchdowns, either throwing or passing, and racked up more than 4,200 yards of total offense.

And, he should push his production to even higher astronomical heights this season.

“His accuracy is getting better,” said Hennesy — a scary prospect for enemy defensive coordinators, considering Drummond completed 64 percent of his throws last season. “He’s getting to his reads better. He has more accuracy and he’s getting rid of the ball quicker. … He’s doing a better job of reading defensive backs with his eyes and (adjusting) prior to the snap.”

Hennesy also envisions Drummond — a daunting physical warrior at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds — becoming more of a running force this season.

Pawhuska might often line up in a no-back formation to exercise all its options with Drummond, he added.

Pawhuska boasts the top backup quarterback in the state in sophomore Todd Drummond, Hennesy said.

Todd is set to the air apparent after Bryce departs, although Todd also could get a chance for some important minutes this season.

Mason Gilkey returns as the most dangerous impact receiver from last season — 24 catches for 636 yards and eight scores. He tied for the team lead in touchdown catches.

This year’s offensive line “might be better than it was last year,” Hennesy said.

Among the returning starters in the pit are Jesse Carr and Dylan Doyal. Hennesy also is moving Lesharo Wildcat — who started on the O-line two years ago but played on the defensive front last season — back to the offensive side. Another defensive lineman behemoth from last year — the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Jamar Goff — is penciled in to play on the offensive side.

Despite keeping Wildcat and Goff on the field more often, Hennesy said he believes his starting defensive line of Goff, Wildcat and Hayden McGuire “could be the top front three in the state. We’ll be almost unstoppable.”

The Huskies’ running game might be manned by committee — Jack Long, McGuire and Tell Richardson are among the primary candidates to take handoffs.

All-around battler Dalton Hurd “had a great summer,” Hennesy said about one of his veterans likely to play a much more explosive role this year.

Hurd hauled in 21 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns in 2019.

During the offseason activities, Cody Starr earned the attention of the coaches and is slated to line up at outside linebacker or cornerback.

“He is a whole different ballplayer right now because of the commitment he made this summer,” Hennesy said.

In addition to his role on offense, Long returns as one of the top linebackers in Class A.

“He led the state in sacks last year,” Hennesy noted.

There is competition between John Reed and Tyrel Richardson for an inside linebacker billet, Hennesy added.

“Everywhere else, we look pretty good,” he said.

The Huskies are set to open the regular season with a roadtrip Aug. 28 to Perry.

Pawhuska Journal-Capital