CHELSEA — Some serious recruiting has been taking place with the Chelsea Green Dragon football squad during the past several months.
Hold on. Before anybody starts looking up the telephone number of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to report on these activities, this recruiting is all on the up and up.
It is legal.
No violations here.
The first recruitment came with the hiring of a new head coach. Longtime Claremore High School assisant Jim Patterson's one-year retirement ended in June when he accepted the Chelsea position vacated by Len Windle.
The new man in charge will be the first to admit the most important recruiting performance has been carried out by the returning players.
"Simply put, the boys went out and brought their buddies back with them to play ball this season," Patterson said. "They started bringing in new faces back in June when we started the off-season weight program. The response has been enormous."
The prospect of only 17 returning players from last year's 3-7 squad forced the action, according to senior Ditto Shanholtzer.
The results were successful. Shanholtzer was one of 51 players suiting for Patterson's first week of practice.
One of the players talked into returning was Sam Kelton.
A junior at 5-11 and 235 pounds, he will make a position for himself.
"I didn't play last year for different reasons, but the guys said things are different now," said Kelton, who is bidding for a linebacker spot. "The team is more caring and more pride is being put into it. There is no drinking and no partying with these guys. Our goal is to be good enough to make the playoffs and see what happens after that. We want to burst out."
At this time of the season, almost all high school teams are thinking of the playoffs. That even goes for teams with 3-7 records from the previous year. Last year's mark is a thing of the past as far as the rebuilt Green Dragons are concerned.
New coaches. New players. New season. New goals.
Coaches and players say things are going to be different this time around.
Besides a new head coach, Chelsea now has numbers to work with when it comes to finding the proper people to fill the proper positions.
Shanholtzer could be one of the busiest. The 5-11, 165-pound senior will start at tailback and then line up at outside linebacker. He will also play quarterback with the second-unit backfield.
"We will have two full sets of backs and this will allow us to go full speed from start to finish," Patterson said.
The Green Dragons will run the Power-I. They can also go to the single-wing to keep opponents guessing. Patterson will direct the offensive backs.
In charge of moving the team will be junior quarterback Josh Patterson (5-7, 160). No relation to his coach, Josh Patterson started the final six games a year ago. As a running back the first four games, he made the move when senior Matt Fuller suffered an injury.
The tailback position will be in the hands of Shanholtzer and senior Kegan Charles (5-10, 165).
Junior Keena Davis (5-6, 265) will be at fullback. He will be backed by sophomore Shane Davis (5-11, 175). Each knows how to create holes by blocking.
At the power back position will be sophomore Caleb Hull (6-0, 165) and junior Samuel Vue (5-1, 125).
For a Class 2A school, Chelsea has some beef on the line. Try 250, 255, 243, 229, 235, and 230 for size. That's what Chelsea can put on the line.
Apparent starters listed from left tackle to right end are junior John Whorton (5-8, 250), sophomore Gable Cantrell (6-1, 255), freshman Chad McCleland (6-1, 243), junior Anthony Smith (6-1, 229), junior Sam Kelton (5-11, 235), and junior Casey Wilson (6-0, 230).
Junior Eric Rigdon (5-11, 150) will line up at wide receiver.
Shanholtzer, Cantrell, Smith, Kelton, Whorton, and Kenna Davis are slated to pull double duty for the Green Dragons.
Junior Casey Wilson (6-0, 230) will join Whorton, Cantrell and Smith across the front of Chelsea's 4-4 defense. The weight of the line adds up to 965 pounds, an average of 241. Now throw in Kelton and Davis for the middle linebackers. That makes for 500 more pounds opposing teams must handle.
The outside linebacker positions will be in the hands of Shanholtzer and junior Kyle Morrison (5-11, 150).
Junior Mike Ross (5-5, 125), senior Kegan Charles (5-10, 165) and senior (Trey Yarbrough (5-7, 135) will roam the Green Dragon secondary.
At 6-1 and 210, junior lineman Ross Moyer is another who did not play last year.
"I need to step up and show the coaches I can get the job done for them," Moyer said. "I'm excited and looking forward to playing now I'm healthy once more."
In addition to Jim Patterson taking over the reins, another Claremore veteran has been enlisted. Bob Rogers started coaching at the junior high level in the early 1970s. He is now in charge of the Green Dragon linemen.
Out of coaching for 13 years, Rogers was recruited (there's that word again) by his longtime friend Jim Patterson. Both have farms about five miles from the school.
The newcomers have received valuable inside knowledge concerning the program from staff holdovers Frank Captain and Jamie Quigley. Captain will serve as defensive coordinator and has been at Chelsea seven years. Quigley, secondary and wide receivers coach, has been here eight years.
One preseason poll has the Green Dragons picked in seventh place in District 2A-7.
The new attitude around the Chelsea football community is ruling out such predictions. As one of the players said the first week of practice, "We are going to surprise some people this year."