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Coach Excited About Upcoming Season
08/30/19 - As the countdown to kickoff approaches for the 2019 Ada High School football team, head coach Chris Berus said the little things will mean a lot to the success of the Cougars this season. “Right now, the focus is just getting better at the little things we’re asking them to do,” he said. “You’re just trying to shore up the execution on both sides of the football. We still have competition at a lot of spots and are trying to create depth as well.” 

Berus said a focal point of the preseason has been getting his players to pay attention to detail. “It’s those things like not making mistakes that hurt yourself, not putting yourself in second and third and long situations because of lack of execution or penalties. Not turning the ball over. Not giving up big plays. For us to be able to be successful in those areas, we’ve got to be extremely disciplined in what we’re asking our kids to do, and they understand that,” he said.    

Heading into Ada’s Week 1 showdown with old rival McAlester on Sept. 6 at Norris Field, Berus said his team’s chemistry was something that stood out the most to him and his coaching staff. “Our locker room is very healthy. One thing we’re not having to battle is kids understanding they need to come to work every day. The success of our team has a lot to do with the health of our locker room,” he said. 

Over the remaining days of preseason drills, Berus said the focus will be to correct mistakes made in scrimmages and get ready for the clash with the Ardmore Tigers. “Obviously, the goal is to be as prepared as we possibly can for Sept. 6. Ardmore is a great program. We love that competition. It’s a huge game that means a lot to both communities,” he said. “This team has a lot going for them right now and as a head coach, that’s encouraging to see.” 


OFFENSE 
The Cougars plan to run and run a lot, and fans could see multiple players taking snaps at tailback. Two seniors expected to lead the running back charge are Matt Maloy, a returning starter, and transfer Tyler Peters. Maloy had just 49 carries for 195 yards and a score last season but is expected to have a bigger role on offense this season. Peters was the starting running back for Wynnewood High School in 2018 and rushed for 1,215 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

“Those will be two mainstays,” Berus said. There will be plenty of depth at tailback. Others expected to see touches include juniors Maximus Rhynes and Kohner Gallagher. “They all have their different styles. Matt, Tyler and Kohner are your hard-nosed, downhill guys. They’re going to be thumpers running the football, and Max will show you more linear speed,” Berus said. All four of those tailback candidates will spend a ton of time on defense, too. 

“Those four guys are all defensive starters, too. That’s the purpose of our rotation at running back because we’re not going to sub those guys out on defense very often ... so we’ll give them all an opportunity to rest on the offensive side. We want to keep those guys as fresh as we can,” he explained. 

Also in the RB mix are senior Braden Maloy, junior Will Bailey and senior Joseph Feezel. “We feel really confident in those guys carrying the football,” Berus said. Although it was a tough competition with senior Manny LaValley throughout the entire preseason, junior Zac Carroll is expected to 
start at quarterback for the Cougars. “He’s done a great job of preparing himself for this opportunity,” Berus said. 

Carroll is also penciled in as a starter on defense, so LaValley could end up taking snaps on Friday nights too. “Being a two-way starter as a quarterback is tough, but if there’s a young man that can do it, it’s Zac,” Berus said. “Manny’s done a great job, too. I feel confident with both of them,” he said. “With what’s on Zac’s plate defensively, Manny’s probably going to have to play quarterback for us one way or the other. They both lead in their own unique way.” Senior Jake Shannon is the top returning wide receiver for the Cougars. In 2018, he finished with 15 catches for 277 yards and five touchdowns. Other Ada targets will be senior newcomer Bo Odom, also of Wynnewood, junior Jarron Christian and speedster John Boone (“When we timed 40s, he was our fastest guy,” Berus said). 
“Those four guys are really establishing themselves at the wide receiver position. Some other guys may work their way in, but those are our leaders right now. We’re still trying to develop depth there,” Berus said. Another receiving candidate is hurdling standout Dominic Lowry, a senior who hasn’t played football since his freshman year. “There’s a saying we’ve adopted — ‘No Block, No Rock.’ And that goes for running backs, too. We have to have 11 physical dudes on the field offensively,” Berus said. 

The biggest question mark on offense for the Cougars is probably the offensive line. “Our offensive line is a priority,” Berus said. Senior Jaycob Gray, who played only the defensive line in 2018, is expected to be one of Ada’s top hosses in the trenches. “Jacob Gray has been starting on the defensive side since his sophomore year. He’s taken upon himself to prove he can go both ways. Right now, he’s our anchor,” Berus said. Senior Blaine Wright is the lone returning offensive lineman but is making the switch from right tackle to right guard this year. 

“He’s really matured and kind of come into his own a little bit. He has a chance to be a very dominant football player for us,” Berus said. “He’s 6-2, 250, and runs exceptionally well.” Junior Cole Todd (6-2, 315) was a late bloomer last season and is expected to be a force up front in 2019 at right tackle. “He’s a big body. With him and Blaine on that right side, I think we’ll be able to move some folks. He came on really late for us last year. He’s very athletic for 300 pounds,” Berus said. The rest of the offensive line positions are still up for grabs. In the hunt are junior Wyatt Jarvis, senior Jake Laxton, junior Kobe Austin and senior Nathan Thomas. “We still have some competition there in the middle. It’s competitive every day. If someone doesn’t have a good day, we’ll change up the depth chart and let someone that is ."
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