Long before the 2010 season ended, third-year Ada football coach Matt Weber realized he would have some huge holes to fill up front on both sides of the ball before the Cougars could think about a fourth straight playoff appearance in 2011. The All-District 5A-1 team released earlier this month only confirmed what Weber already knew.
In a district dominated by three teams — Guthrie, Carl Albert and Deer Creek — who finished the regular season ranked in the 5A top 10, Ada linemen dominated the postseason awards at their positions.
Senior William Kirkpatrick, a move-in who started on the offensive line and also saw a lot of action at tailback in short-yardage situations for the Cougars late in the season, shared 5A-1 Lineman of the Year honors with Kyle Croak of Carl Albert. Fitzpatrick’s teammate, Caleb Clary, also earned first-team honors, and two other Ada linemen — Andrew Scribner and Payton Patton — were named to the second-team offense.
End Cale Russell joined another senior, defensive back Ronald Lucas, on the first team defense, while Ada senior linemen Tanner Dyer and Ryan Vick earned second-team honors.
“I was proud of the way they were chosen,” Weber said. “This year was different than the last two years (when Ada was in District 5A-3 with teams from the Tulsa area), because the other coaches in the district voted on all of the first and second-team players, so it meant more.
“I think all of our senior defensive linemen were on the first or second team,” he added. “For as good a district as we came out of, I thought we were well-represented.”
Weber said the other coaches noticed Kirkpatrick in his only season in an Ada niform.
“He obviously made an impression on the other coaches in the district, as did our other players,” Weber noted. “He was very versatile for us. He was a move-in, but had we known more about him he probably would have been a tight end. He had those kind of skills, and he was a very physical player.”
Clary saw only limited action as a junior, but Weber said he transformed himself into an all-district player with his work ethic.
“He spot-played last year and really went to work in the offseason to make himself a better player,” Weber explained. “He’s a high-character kid, and through his hard work he made himself into a really good offensive player.”
In addition to Scribner and Patton, Ada also placed senior wideout Christian Johnson on the all-district second team offense, while senior defensive backs Nick Anderson and Diontee Albert joined Vick and Dyer on the second-team defense.
As a safety and kick returner, Lucas was an impact player for the Cougars throughout the season, while Russell was the leader of a line that was one of the strengths of the Ada defense.
“Ronald was probably our leading tackler this year at free safety,” Weber said. “He’s a great tackler in the open field, and he had four interceptions and ran one back for a touchdown.
“Both of those kids (Lucas and Russell) played a lot the last three years, and they really grew up this year.”
Ada also had the all-district punter in senior Brady Bowers, who will graduate with all of the school records at his position.
“I would like to take a lot of credit for his improvement, but he did a lot of work on his own to make himself better,” Weber said of Bowers.
Four other Cougars — running back Jacob Niblett, defensive back Travis Cowan, wideout Skylar Alexander and tight end Mark Kirkpatrick — received honorable mention on the all-district squad.
Weber said developing another group of linemen to follow in the tradition established by this year’s seniors will be a key to improving on this year’s 5-6 record.
“We lost a ton of linemen, but we have all of our starting skill people back in the backfield,” he noted. “That’s a good place to start. We just have to find some linemen.”