ADA — Chad Roark and Dakota Lewis played in parallel universes during the 2005 football season.

Roark, Ada’s preseason high school All-American offensive lineman, and Lewis, Sulphur’s consensus all-state linebacker, began the 2005 campaign as the undisputed leaders of teams coming off outstanding 2004 seasons but decimated by graduation. The Cougars — 11-2 and semifinalists in Class 4A in 2004 — and the Bulldogs — undefeated 2A state champions — each lost 27 seniors, leaving Roark and Lewis to fill holes on both sides of the ball.

Despite the staggering loss of talent at each school, Ada and Sulphur both had winning records this fall. And, although neither program reached its 2004 level of success, Roark and Lewis were recognized as two of Oklahoma’s best football players at season’s end.

Roark — a 6-3, 280-pounder whose Ada club came out of nowhere to claim the District 4A-2 title before losing to Wagoner in the second round of the playoffs — will be an offensive lineman on the East squad, and Lewis — a member of a Sulphur club that was ranked No. 1 in 2A through seven games but suffered late losses to Davis and Tishomingo to finish third in District 2A-4 before losing its playoff opener to Purcell — will be a linebacker on the West roster for the July 28 Coaches All-State Game at Union Tuttle High School in Tulsa.

In addition, Roark was also named to the Daily Oklahoman All-State first team — an honor that eluded 2004 Ada quarterback Kerry Johnson despite a record-setting season — and has been invited to play in the Army All-American Game Jan. 7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“The Daily Oklahoman is probably as prestigious as the Coaches’, because they just pick one team,” Ada football coach Steve Dean said. “The early press this season helped (Roark), but you still have to go out and play. The Oklahoman gets enamoured with Oklahoma City kids.”

Roark, who was Ada’s starting center but moved around on the offensive line from time to time to face an opponent’s best defensive player, also played a lot of defense this year — a lot more, in fact, than Dean had planned when the season began.

“We thought going in that he was going to be an anchor on both lines, and he was all season,” Dean said of Roark, who has committed to the University of Oklahoma. “We didn’t think he would play as much as he did both ways. Of all the places to play both ways, the offensive and defensive line is probably the toughest.

“He’s going to play center in college, so we played him at center, but he also played guard and tackle — that’s hard to do,” Dean added. “Chad handles things so well mentally that he was able to make the move, and that gave us a lot of options. Teams would try to occupy him and not let him get on the linebackers, and that was good, because they had to double-team him, and that left somebody else free.”

Johnson, who gained more than 2,000 yards rushing and accounted for more than 3,000 yards in total offense last season and scored six touchdowns in Ada’s quarterfinal playoff victory over Glenpool, carried the bulk of the rushing load in 2004, and his graduation left a huge hole in the backfield. Dean filled the void with senior tailback Chris West and sophomore quarterback Michael Roberts, who both rushed for over 1,000 yards this season behind an offensive line led by Roark and Class 4A all-star Justin Nail.

“We had lost a quarterback who amassed 3,000 yards, and we had two tailbacks coming back who had split time, and we’d lost our fullback,” Dean recalled. “It was the second game of the season before we decided that we were going to be a running team.

“When you get to the down and distance where everybody knows you’re going to run the ball, it’s nice to know you have an offensive line that can get you two or three yards when you need it,” he added.

After losing three of their first six games and starting district play 1-2, the Cougars rallied to win their last four contests — beginning with an impressive 17-0 victory over seventh-ranked Star-Spencer in Week 7 — and claim perhaps the most unlikely league crown in school history while earning the program’s 23rd straight trip to the postseason.

“Beginning with the Star-Spencer game, we had to win out, or we weren’t going to the playoffs,” Dean recalled. “And they found a way to get it done week after week.”

Roark and his older brother, Craig (now a redshirt freshman at the University of Nebraska), were both members of the offensive line that opened holes for Johnson last season, and Dean said Chad and Craig, although different, “are similar in a lot of ways”.

“They’re both so smart that they can handle a change of position,” Dean noted. “Craig’s strong and just got better and better his senior year — Chad pretty much started out where we wanted him and just maintained that level throughout the year. Craig is probably stronger, and Chad might be a little quicker..”

Dean said that, from a personal standpoint, he was happy Chad — who had originally committed to Florida State — will play at OU.

“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Dean noted. “From talking to the (OU) coaches, there are only going to be two centers in spring ball — Chad and a kid who hasn’t played. Chad has an opportunity to impress them if he’ll go up there and get after it.”

Longtime Sulphur coach Jim Dixon called Lewis — one of four tailbacks and a starting linebacker on the 2004 team considered by many veteran observers to be the best in school history — one of the best players he had ever coached, and Lewis was the Bulldogs main weapon on both sides of the ball in 2005.

In addition to leading the team in tackles from his linebacker spot, the 6-2, 210-pounder rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 27 touchdowns to rank eighth in the state in all classes. Like Chad Roark, Lewis is expected to play in the Big 12, having reportedly committed to the University of Kansas.



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