By Kyle Dierking, NewsOn6.com
SAND SPRINGS, OK -- The goal was set and accomplished last season. Sand Springs mission was simple: get four district wins and make the playoffs. Now, the Sandites are setting the bar higher.
"Our goal is not to go to Union-Tuttle in round one," said Sand Springs coach Dustin Kinard. "That's kind of a joke around here but that's what our goal is. Whether it's first, second or third we want to avoid usually going to Union in the first round."
The sentiment isn't surprising. The Sandites were welcomed back to the OSSAA Playoffs with a 70-21 loss to the eventual 6A champs. Kinard says the game was more "fair" than fanfare.
"I think they thought we were going to the Tulsa State Fair that evening," Kinard said. "They didn't care if we won or lost; we were going to the playoffs. Everybody got a new t-shirt and we had met our goals that season."
"Me, personally, I wanted to go there to win because I don't like going anywhere and losing," said senior quarterback Johnny Deaton. "As a whole, as a team we weren't prepared. They took it as a joke pretty much it seemed like to me."
The Sandites took the field this spring with a heavier Deaton and higher hopes. The senior quarterback packed on 15 pounds of muscle in the off-season. He's also bulked up his football IQ.
"He's not necessarily studied a lot more film but he's studied the game with pre-snap reads," Kinard said. "He knows pretty much where the ball is going to go. If not, he knows where the ball is coming back to."
The new mission is in place: get a top three spot in 6A District 3 - perhaps the toughest division in the state. To do it, they'll rely heavily on their highly recruited quarterback.
"(Deaton) will be the focal point of our offense," Kinard said. "Come stop him."
Q&A With Deaton
Kyle Dierking: People around the area knew you were a special player last season, but since the year ended you've committed to OSU and participated in the Elite 11 Camp in Fort Worth. How was that? How did that change things?
Jonny Deaton: It was a pretty big camp. We got critiqued there and we were doing stuff all pro (formation), which we don't do that here - we run everything out of the shotgun - we run the spread. I think I did pretty well, especially after not doing that stuff in forever. I only run (pro formation) when I go to camps like that.
KD: After that camp did you start to get a lot more attention from college coaches?
JD: I'd say so. It had a lot to do with it - it was my second year going there - but I have a feeling that was one of the factors with me getting looked at more.
KD: With that being said, are you still committed to Oklahoma State or are you just trying to keep your options open?
JD: I'm still committed to OSU. For right now, I still see myself at OSU.
KD: I'd have to assume that's the number one question you've been getting in the off-season.
JD: Yeah...it's, "how committed are you?" Since OU was here two Monday's ago, everybody's been calling me and asking me how strongly I'm committed. But yeah, I'm still committed.
KD: So how much do you enjoy the phrases "soft verbal" and "hard verbal?"
JD: I don't really try to get caught up in all that, but people can think what they want to think. I'm committed.
Click here to follow Kyle on Twitter.