By Chuck Reherman
A ‘new look’ Southwest Covenant will take the field Monday to open pre-season drills as the Patriots begin a quest to return to the playoffs.
The Patriots return a solid core of players from a team that reached the class C quarterfinals and will face the challenges of a new district.
SWCS opens drills drom 7-9 a.m. Monday morning and again at 6:30-9 p.m. The team goes to 7-9 a.m. and again from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning on Tuesday.
The Patriots return most of their backfield and a pair of key players in the offensive line, but for the first time in four years will have a new face, but a same last name under center.
SWCS head coach Trey Cloud looks for his team to pick up right where the team left off and expects 18 to 20 players out when the team opens practice.
“We plan to utilize our team speed this year and will work on our conditioning to open practice,” Cloud said. “We had a great summer program and I expect out players to come into practice in good shape, but we plan to be in better condition that our opponents and use that to wear our opponents down.
“You have these first four days where you are in helmets and shorts, so you can do a lot as far as contact,” he added. “We will work on plays and things to get our team more comfortable.
“We can’t go to pads until Friday, but we will have enough players to be able to scrimmage against each other, which we haven’t been able to do in some years,” he added.
The Patriots will have the Kelly brothers, Trevor and Tyler returning to the backfield. Trevor led the team in rushing and was a key player on defense as well. Logan Shields and Cole Shaw are back at receiver and Jesse Deason at tight end. P.J. Riggs returns to the offensive line and at linebacker.
Ben Webb is the leading candidate to take over the quarterback spot. He will step in where he brother Sam shined for the Patriots the last four seasons.
“Ben has looked good in spring practice and he was named the MVP of the team camp we attended at Northeastern Oklahoma State in Miami. And we had a good overall team camp. Our young players that did not get to see much playing time last year. It helped them to get ready for the season.
“We have five seniors that have played a lot for us and will be good team leaders for us,” he added. “Competing is to number one thing for us. Being in our new district is a better draw for us. We feel we can play with everyone in our district, it all depends on how we play throughout the season. I think we can compete with everyone in our district.”
The Patriots are in District C-3 this season along with Deer Creek-Lamont, Bluejacket, Coyle, Covington-Douglas, Welch, Copan and Medford.
The Patriots will scrimmage at Geary on Aug. 17 and opens the season on the road against Central Marow Aug. 31. SWCS plays at Empire the second week and Bartlesville Wesleyan. The Patriots won’t play a home game until Sept. 21. hosting Bluejacket.
“We have only four home games this season and we will have some long road trips,” Cloud said. “But, we feel good about our district and our chances to do well.”
By Chuck Reherman