SMALL SCHOOL PREVIEW: Canadian, Hartshorne, Wilburton set to begin 2023 seasons

Aug. 24—Football is back in southeastern Oklahoma.

Canadian will host Ketchum Friday as the Cougars begin the 2023 regular season.

The Warriors will throw out a pair of players at quarterback, senior Eli Wigglesowrth and junior Justin Johnson. Senior Brendon Smith will lead the receiving corps, while senior duo J.T. Trout and Lane Collins will share time in the backfield.

Many of the Warriors play on both sides of the ball, leading to veteran leadership and experience on defense as well.

The Cougars will have a bevy of returning talent to chose from, with experience and lessons learned from second-year coach Nathan Leithead. With many familiar faces such as Thunder and Kaden Elza, Tyler Bird, and T.J. Cook, the Cougars will be ready to rocket out of the gate in a new season.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Hartshorne at Henryetta, 8 p.m.

The Miners are ready to get back to work.

Hartshorne will begin its 2023 season Friday as the Miners hit the road to face Henryetta in a Zero Week contest.

The Knights will see junior quarterback Brady Norman as signal caller, while also returning their biggest offensive spark in senior Nick Hudson. Last season, Hudson rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 19 scores, while also adding more than 200 receiving yards and two more touchdowns.

On defense, the Knights return 10 of their 11 starters from last season — lending plenty of experience on that side of the ball.

The Miners meanwhile return a well of talent themselves that helped see last year's team into the playoffs. Led by quarterback Jackson Moody and surrounded by offensive weapons such as Acetin Rowell, Brett Lindley, and Kelby Thomason, Hartshorne will be full of experience heading into its first game.

Defensively, the Miners will see a mixture of upperclassmen leadership such as juniors Kannon Osier and Cody Sanders, while also boasting young talent such as sophomore Malachi Sunagoowie.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Wilburton at Gore, 8 p.m.

The Diggers are hitting the road as they begin the 2023 season.

Wilburton will open its football season Friday as the Diggers are hosted by A-No. 8 Gore in the opening game of the regular season.

The Pirates are the returning Class A State runners-up from last season, but graduated a large number of players from that team. Still, they'll have up-and-coming talent leading the way — such as sophomore quarterback Tate Brooksher.

Joining Brooksher will be a pair of rushers in sophomore Bladin McCartney and senior Hunter McGee, led by an experienced offensive line.

Defensively, many of those same names will switch sides of the football and pull double duty for the Pirates.

For Wilburton, the Diggers will have sophomore quarterback Braiden Grossnicklaus back at the helm, and standout senior running back Troy Clark commanding the ground game.

Defensively, the Diggers return a large portion of veteran talent, plus young talent ready to move into their roles.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.