WYANDOTTE — Six seniors, including five who were two-way starters, will lead the way for Wyandotte as it embarks on its first season with Zac Ross as head coach.
Zac Ross, head coach at Porter the past four seasons, takes over for Brad Homer, who resigned to join the staff of Zach Gardner at Miami.
“It’s been an easy transition,” Ross said. “I am looking forward to it and I think the kids are excited as well. I think we have a good coaching staff.
Ross and current NEO head coach Zach Allen were walk-ons at Oklahoma State at the same time.
The Bears were 7-4 a year ago and finished third in District 2A-7.
Three touchdowns in about five minutes helped fourth-ranked Tulsa Victory Christian coast to a 62-14 victory in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s been fun working with these kids,” Ross said. “They know how to work. We just want to take it to next level as far as working. They’ve responded pretty well. Coach Homer did a good job.
“They know how to work and they know how to get after it.”
Ross said a number of players raised their maxes during summer weightlifting.
“One thing that surprises me that is really neat is that it’s board policy that our athletes — every one of them — lift at least three times a week. Coming from the top, that helps get the kids going.”
The offensive and defensive lines will be strengths for the Bears.
Everyone returns up front on the offensive line.
Because of injuries, Ross said there are seven or eight linemen that have started at least one game.
Finding a successor to Jordon Burney at quarterback has been a priority.
Burney completed 137 of his 229 pass attempts for 1,841 yards and 24 touchdowns.
He also contributed 229 rushing yards with three scores.
Senior Justin Campbell, who was the Bears’ second-leading receiver and a starter on defense at safety, is the heir apparent.
“I think we have a pretty good replacement,” Ross said. “He did a good job this summer and threw it really well at team camp.
He said sophomore Ethan McLaughin also had a good summer.
Tentative starters included 10 who will go both ways.
The lone exception is junior left offensive guard Bronson Harper.
Senior starters include Zach Garrett, running back and safety; Helawa Williams, receiver and cornerback; Zach Garrett, running back and safety, Cole Dixon, right guard and defensive tackle; Cameron Robinson, left tackle and defensive end, and Campbell, quarterback and safety.
Juniors expected to start are Wade Brown, receiver and defensive end; Ethan Ennis, center and defensive tackle; Dalton Leal, right guard and defensive tackle; Ethan Bradley, H-back (fullback) and linebacker, and Jade Verzosa, wide receiver and cornerback.
Iman Burrows is a sophomore receiver and outside linebacker.
Williams was the Bears’ leading receiver last season, snagging 38 balls for 664 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Campbell was right behind with 33 receptions for 479 yards and four scores.
Garrett is the top rusher back, netting 304 yards on 68 carries. He scored once in a wild 46-44 win over Caney Valley.
He also caught 14 passes for 159 yards.