Media Day: Vinita Hornets

Thursday, July 28th 2011, 5:44 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Aug 26, 2010 11:36 AM CDT

Dave Carty
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Don’t tell head coach Duwayne King that his offense struggled last year. He’ll be quick to tell you that it wasn’t an inability to pick up yards but rather turnovers that took points off the boards for his Vinita Hornets.

“Putting points on the board and accumulating offense [are] different things,” said King at and Oklahoma Sports First Look Media Day, noting his team’s 470-yard, seven-fumble performance against McLain. “We’re going to look to secure the ball a little better.

"We just didn't get the job done when we needed to. We made that commitment to make sure that we get that job done this year and get where we want to be, which is in the playoffs. We think we have the kids and the talent to do that."

And with that the Hornets set out to improve on their 3-7 record from a year ago. Six starters return on offense, including an offensive line that boasts about 70 combined starts. Clayton Still, Casey Piguet, Hunter Highsmith, and Jeremiah Nelson will anchor that o-line.

Jake Roach returns for his junior season at quarterback after throwing for over 1,000 yards and rushing for over 500 yards a year ago. Several players are expected to step in and assume larger roles at tailback and wide receiver -- including Donnell Balance and Nash Chamberlain.

On defense, the focus will be limiting costly plays, which burned the Hornets a year ago.

“We gave up a few big plays last year that hurt us,” said King. “I don’t know that anyone ever truly marched the ball down the field without us giving them a big play. Big plays kill your defense.”

Seniors Chris Liftee, Connor Lankford and Austin Lee make up an experienced and skilled trio of inside linebackers. With those seniors leading the way, King is enthusiastic about his team leadership.

“They’re going to take care of business for us in the leadership department,” he said. “That’s something we’ve been missing the last two years.”

Drew Allensworth will lock down one cornerback spot while the other will likely be filled with an underclassman.

Dewey, Locust Grove and Nowata will play Vinita in non-conference games and King’s team hopes to erase the memory of last year with strong play out of the gate and a swell of momentum.

“We put [last season] behind us,” said Drew Allensworth. “This year we’re back. We know what we have to do and we’re accomplishing that in practices. We’re picking up our intensity. We’re back to win some ballgames. I don’t think last year means anything.”