Southmoore (OK) High School enters their 2010 season attempting to recover from the loss of 26 seniors, 17 of which were starters. For Head Coach Chris Jensen, it is a welcome relief compared to the stress he faced his first two seasons at the school.
Southmoore enters the third year of existence ranked No. 94 in the Rivals Top 100, hoping to reach the playoffs once again. The school opened play in 2008, finishing with a record of 2-8 following a season ending injury to starting quarterback Kendal Thompson and running back Kyuann Thompson.
“We went from being in a game with Edmond Sante Fe, where we were pretty close, to losing by the biggest margin we will probably ever give up in school history,” Jensen said. “We let them score 70-points on us and the wheels fell off. We never recovered. If we had those guys for the rest of the season, it might have been a different story.”
The school realized those expectations in their second season when Southmoore finished 11-2 and made the state playoffs. The team reached this success despite off-field investigations by the OSSAA (Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association) into recruiting policies.
“The controversy was unfounded,” Jensen said. “It’s unfortunate. If I didn’t believe down to the depths of my soul that we were doing everything we were supposed to according to the OSSAA then I would have had a great deal of conflict. I tried to make sure it was something I had to deal with personally. It was a credit to our kids and coaches to stay focused.”
The season ended with a loss to Jenks High School in the state playoffs and, thanks to a new division lineup in Oklahoma 6A football, Southmoore will get the chance for a rematch with Jenks in Moore on October 21, 2010.
“It’s big,” Jensen said. “One of the exciting things about going East is getting to play those teams. Bringing them down here this time, for this game, makes our kids eager for that. I’ve still got to keep them focused on one game at a time.”
The team taking the field this year is drastically different from the one that reached the playoffs in 2009.
Returning at quarterback is Kendal Thompson (6-2, 175), son of former Oklahoma Sooners star Charles Thompson. Thompson believes it is his time to step forward and be a leader for the team.
“One of the critical things about leadership is that the people around you feel like you care about them and Kendal cares about the people around him,” Jensen said. “What I see right now with Kendal, going into this season, is his expectations for other people’s performance going up. I think last year, as a junior having a lot of seniors around him, he was not as vocal with expectation for people to do what they are supposed to be doing. This year, he is a lot more so.”
Joining Thompson in the backfield is junior running back Andrew Long (5-9, 170). Long ran for over 1500 yards in 2009. He has expressed the desire to reach 2000 yards in his junior year and Coach Jensen believes he is fully capable of doing it, calling him the best running back he has ever worked with.
“The only other guy that really sticks out in my mind is Corey Ivey,” Jensen said. “My first year at Moore (High School), we had Corey Ivey on our team and that kid would run the ball 40 times a game and play cover corner. He was so tough. That toughness has led to a career in the NFL that no one would have expected. Andrew is a special talent. He is so good with the ball in his hands and so fast out of the backfield.”
Thompson and Long in the backfield give Southmoore’s no huddle offense a scary look for opposing defenses.
“It’s huge to have two athletes like that,” Jensen said. “Usually you hope for just one of them, but you’ve got both of them in the backfield.”
Outside of his two star backs, Southmoore is attempting to rebuild a team decimated by the large number of graduating seniors. Both wide receiver spots are wide open. Sophomore Nick Ward (6-0, 168) is penciled into a starting receiver position while the other spot appears to be a battle between Caleb Willis (5-8, 187) and Johnathan Martin (5-7, 141).
“You just wouldn’t look at Johnathan Martin and think he would get to play football,” Jensen said. “He’s a sophomore and all he does is make plays for us. He does everything right, he does exactly what he’s told to do and coached to do and he catches the ball every time it is thrown to him.”
Defense is another area the team is focusing on in fall practice. 2009s defensive leader, Austin Haywood, is now at the University of Oklahoma and the team is looking for someone to step in as a leader of this young team. Chad Mullenberg (6-0, 254) is getting a chance to start at DE in the team’s 3-4 defense but is a sophomore and, while expectations are high, might not be ready to step into a leadership role yet.
The rest of the defensive line is staffed with a group of players described as tweeners between linebackers and defensive linemen.
“We’ve got some guys we had to move into that spot,” Jenson said. “Given the demographics of our team, we don’t have a great deal of big, fast physical lineman. I think our true linemen are truly depleted. So far I am really pleased with their progress.”
Southmoore has a lot of catching up to do but Coach Jenson believes they are ready for the task. His motto for 2010 is to “Pursue Perfection” and expects Kendal Thompson to be the man who helps lead his team to the next level.
“My message to Kendal, early in the summer and late in the spring, was ‘you have an opportunity to have an impact on this program for not only this year but the next three years.’ Because of this group of sophomores we have, if he can lead them in the right way then he can help them develop a competitive spirit like he has,” Jenson said. “If he can establish expectations for performance with those kids right now, it’s not only going to impact us this year but for the next three years.”
Southmoore begins their season on September 2 at 7:00 PM against Edmond North High School.
Personal Interview with Coach Chris Jensen
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