Muskogee Roughers Team Breakdown – Pigskin Preview 2018 – Presented by York Street Tire

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Muskogee Roughers

Coach: RAFE WATKINS

Quick Hits:

Muskogee opens the season with McAlester. The schools have met in five consecutive seasons with the Roughers winning the last two by a combined margin of 105-13. Muskogee has also won 7 of the last 10. 

Wide receiver Quintevin Cherry caught five or more passes in six different games for the Roughers in 2017. His best effort of 11 grabs for 123 yards came against Bixby on September 29th. 

The Roughers will face Shawnee for the first time since 2011 when they defeated the Wolves 16-12.  

Last 5 Years:

2017 – 5-5 

2016 – 9-2

2015 – 3-7 

2014 – 3-7 

2013 – 3-7

OFFENSE

The Roughers travel plans for 2018 include a return to the playoffs but before Muskogee can earn its invitation, coach Rafe Watkins knows there’s a construction zone to be completed that includes finding a suitable replacement at quarterback. With a mid-summer departure of the expected starter, the Roughers wait to see who wins the starting nod as Jordan Bradley (Jr.) and Ty Williams (5-11, 175, So.) will compete for the rights to lead the offense.

“They’re both young by experience but we’re fortunate in the fact that Jordan and Ty are both very smart kids,” said Watkins. “They’re both students of the game but are going to have to learn how to respond to the speed of the varsity level competition.”

The game plan for the fall was to emphasize more of a running game taking advantage of the quickness of Jimmie Coleman (5-9, 165, Jr.) who took advantage of his 44 carries averaging 7-plus yards per attempt.

While the quarterback decision may not be made until the fall, the play of VYPE Top 100 selection Kaunor Ashley (5-10, 175, Jr.) and Kentrell Mitchum (6-1, 160, Jr.) will be designated receiving targets along with newcomer Adrian Jones (6-0, 165, Sr.).

The construction zone also includes the reformation of the offensive line where the Roughers have limited playing time experience. Brandon Zuniga (6-0, 280, Sr.), Dadrian Wilson (5-8, 230, Jr.) Tyler Kennedy (6-0, 180, Jr.), Jacob Allen (5-10, 180, So.) Josh Lucky (5-10, 250, Jr.) and Wendell Johnson (6-3, 320, So.) are among the players drawing attention.

“The development of our offensive line is a primary concern,” admits Watkins. “We’re going to have to learn with on-the-job training under fire.”

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DEFENSE

The Roughers enter the 2018 season with four starters to energize the attacking style of play including another Top 100 choice Nikaury Ruffin (5-10, 245, Sr.) anchoring the play in the trenches at nose guard to play alongside defensive end Colton Edwards (6-2, 200, Sr.) who charted 57 tackles and nine sacks as well as Devion Williams (6-0, 265, Jr.) whose aggressiveness produced five sacks plus 49 tackles last year. Moving from linebacker to add prowess at defensive end will be Kaleb Biglow (6-2, 230, Jr.) and Jeremiah Jarrett (6-2, 195, Sr.).

“The defensive front is our most experienced area,” said Watkins. “All of them are physical, strong and mobile plus they play with an attitude.”

A welcomed addition to the Roughers defensive game plan is the return of Trey Harris (6-0, 210, Sr.) at linebacker who saw playing time as a sophomore but a choice to implement an academic sabbatical to achieve a top-10 ranking kept the now senior in the classroom and on the football sidelines. Muskogee coaches will also be counting on the two-way conditioning of Zach Murphy to be a playmaker at linebacker as well as Jaron Cash (5-10, 225, Jr.) and Jareed Haggerman (5-10, 190, Jr.)

With graduation taking its toll to the secondary unit, the return of Kaunor Ashley, who made 69 tackles a year ago, is the lone experienced playmaker in the defensive backfield.  While experience is still building, talent is across the board in the defensive backfield with Marcus Newton (6-2 190 Jr.), Darian Davis (5-11, 190, So.), Ty Williams and Phillip Jones (5-8, 155, So,) and Adrian Jones battling for starting positions. 

“We’re re-tooling the entire linebacker group and that’s paramount at this level to get top notch play on every snap,” Watkins said with emphasis. “Our secondary is young and extremely athletic but still have to mature under fire.”

With a championship level of competition in the district that has produced the Class 6A-II champion the last four years, Watkins remains positive in his outlook and determined with his expectations for success.

“This will not be the most talented team we’ve fielded but we’ve had the best off-season since I’ve been here,” said Watkins. “Kids make the difference and we have a group that are willing to work hard and are committed to the program.” 

Schedule:

8-31 – vs. McAlester

9-7 – vs. Midwest City

9-14 – at Putnam City West

9-21 – vs. Ponca City

9-28 – at Sand Springs

10-5 – at Sapulpa

10-12 – vs. Shawnee

10-18 – at Booker T. Washington

10-26 – at Bartlesville

11-2 – vs. Bixby