Zebra football

When Claremore football coach Jarrett Hurt gathered his team for a practice-ending debrief, he couldn’t help but notice the size of the huddle.

Despite returning only nine starters from last year’s squad that reached the Class 5A quarterfinals, the Zebras have no shortage of options as spring practices get underway.

“We have 97 guys in spring football right now, and that’s the most that I can remember since I’ve been in Claremore for 11 years,” Hurt said. “We have about half our starters on each side, so we have a great nucleus to build around. There’s a lot of young kids who are eager to get their shot at it.”

With so many players on the roster, the coaching staff was split down the middle, with half handling varsity players and half managing the junior varsity squad.

Halfway through practice, the players switch to the other coaching group.

Although the coaches had to work out the typical first-day kinks on Monday afternoon, Hurt said it was a great first day of practice, and he’s optimistic about what the 2019 team has to offer.

Oh, and coaches from Oklahoma State and Pittsburgh State (Kan.) were in attendance to evaluate some of the Zebras’ talent, which added a nice gloss to the opening-day festivities.

“I thought the effort was great by everybody for the first day,” Hurt said. “Not a ton of surprises, but I thought the effort and the attitude of the kids were superb. They were eager to be here, and we’re looking for big things from this group.”

Claremore opens the season on the road at Class 6A’s Bartlesville on Friday, Sept. 6. Before then, the Zebras will participate in a pair of scrimmages, starting with the Rogers County Jamboree in Oologah on Friday, Aug. 23, followed by a trip to Wagoner on Thursday, Aug. 29.