Around Sequoyah, the popular thinking is that there is no room for stars on the Eagles’ roster.
But there is talent, they say. Darn good talent. Talent at a lot of positions.
There is enough talent up and down the Sequoyah roster to fuel a bonfire of expectations.
This is a team that won its district last season en route to the Class 3A state semifinals.
And much of that talented team, a total of 15 starters in all, returns for another, more focused, run at a state championship.
They might not talk about stars and headliners at Sequoyah, but they do talk about anticipation and championships.
Expectations at Sequoyah are higher, and brighter, than a galaxy of stars.
“We believe we’ll be good,” coach Jody Iams says flat-out.
“It’s one of those years that if you don’t win 12 or 13 games, it’s kind of a disappointment.
“I look around and sometimes we’ve got 11 seniors out there in the huddle. Anytime you’re in that situation, expectations are very high.
“We just can’t let that get out of control.
“It still comes down to showing up every Friday night and working hard.”
When this bunch of Eagles shows up on Friday nights, they will come running.
With senior quarterback Levi Richardson operating the Iams Wing-T, the Eagles are sure to pile up some yardage and put up some points.
In this area, Richardson is one of the best at his position.
He might not be a star, in the Iams lexicon, but he has star-like qualities.
Last year, the 6-1, 190-pound Richardson ran for more than 800 yards and passed for another 600.
Richardson will not be called on to pass much this season. For four or five reasons.
Those reasons are backfield members Corey Park, J.R. Row, Ty Jordan and Blake Breshears, plus specialist Dakota James.
That might appear to be a crowded backfield.
But with the run-oriented Iams’ Wing-T, even the heralded Corey Park will need a breather at times.
Park (6-3, 220) ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, his sophomore season. He would be a star in the making in any system.
Jordan is another of those big backs, at 6-3, 215. Breshears is 6-0 and 175.
James is a wide receiver who might be as likely to take a handoff as he is to take a pass.
“When we’re running the ball, we have control of the game,” Iams says. “The other team can’t do anything about it because they can’t get their offense out there.
“We get a bad rap sometimes for running the ball all the time. Running the ball. Running the ball. Running the ball.
“But we’re going to run that Wing-T and we will have a chance to win every year with it.”
A big passing game for Iams might find 15 footballs in the air.
He could live, comfortably, with 13. Or fewer.
“If we have a kid that we want to have the ball, we need to get it to him,” Iams said.
And that does not mean getting it to that player through the air.
A handoff will suit Iams much better.
Not that Richardson can’t accomplish both.
“That’s what makes him so good,” Iams said. “He does both so well.
“I think he’s the kind of kid if you stick him in one of those offenses where they throw the ball 25 or 30 times a game, he would be a standout.”
A standout is as close to a star as they come at Sequoyah.
Iams was quizzed about “stars” during a question-answer session in Tulsa this summer.
“I don’t have one,” he said. “And we don’t want one.”
More recently, Iams explained his stand.
“A reason why I like the Wing-T is we’re not going to have one kid that rushes for 250 yards a game, and then when he can’t play, everybody thinks there’s no way we can win.
“It’s the whole system. Not one kid is causing us to win. One can cause us to lose. But one ís not causing us to win. We’re doing that together.”
Speaking of togetherness, the defense has played so well as a unit, Iams has almost slipped and used the word “star.”
The defense, he said, “could be one of the best we’ve had.”
Most of the offensive heroes are doing double duty.
Richardson, Breshears and James are returning secondary scorpions.
The linebacking corps is led by Row and Park, along with Jordan and newcomer James Hunsaker.
“They will fly to the ball,” Iams said. “And I assure you, that’s how you win games.”
Row has been the Eagles’ leading tackler the last two seasons.
What Richardson is to the offense, Row is to the defense.
“In 17 years of high school coaching, I’ve never seen a kid with his kind of instincts,” Iams said.
“I don’t know how he gets to the guy with the ball. I wish I could say we taught him all that. But we didn’t.
“I’ve had better athletes, probably. But his instincts are the best I’ve ever seen. He has the God-given ability to get to the guy with the football.
“Good technique. Bad technique. Somehow, he gets there every time.”
Along both lines, Jesse Myers, all 6-4, 225 pounds of him, will be hard to miss.
And Sequoyah will be hard to miss when the weekly rankings appear. The Eagles are expected to repeat as District 3A-3 champions, and are expected to be near the top of the state rankings all year.
The only roadblock there might be the appearance in 3A this year of Clinton. The legendary Red Tornadoes won four of the last five state championships in Class 4A and have dropped down a class this season.
Clinton would be expected to rank ahead of Sequoyah in most predictions.
Still, Sequoyah will not go unnoticed.
“We flew under radar last year,” Iams said. “That’s not going to happen now.
“Every Friday night, we’re going to get everybody’s best game.”
And that’s fine with Iams.
He has expectations for his Eagles.
And those expectations are high.