Gridiron Football Preview-Cherokee County 2022 | Page 13


where they ’ re at . We know we have to continue to get better , not so much knowing what to do , but knowing how to do it .
“ The two weeks were really good for us during the spring . We saw them improve with every day . It ’ s a young group . We ’ ve got three seniors , but outside of those three seniors , everybody that will put their hand on the ground for us is a junior or sophomore .”
Rooster , at 6-foot-3 and 312 pounds , and Whittmore , standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 307 pounds , both give Tahlequah plenty of size . Rooster is projected as the starter at right guard , and Whittmore is expected to start at left guard .
“ Braxton ’ s a big kid and he ’ s got an opportunity , just based upon size , to just really get after people , maul people ,” Gilbert said . “ We haven ’ t really had that in a while , guys that can maul people .
“ Tate had a really good spring ,” Gilbert said . “ We really liked what we saw from him . We ’ ve seen something in him so far this year that we haven ’ t seen in years past , which is what we need . He ’ s got the ability … he ’ s got the size to really be dominating for us .”
Shankle was a starter at center last year as a sophomore before an injury . He will make the move to left tackle in 2022 .
“ We ’ ve moved him to left tackle just because he ’ s an athletic kid and he ’ s got range and length ,” Gilbert said . “ We think that ’ s going to provide an element that we need at that position .”
Stopp was a starter going into last season , but had a significant knee injury in the season opener that forced him to miss the remainder of the year . He will resume his starting role at right tackle this season .
“ He ’ s got a meanness to him , a mean streak , and we like that ,” Gilbert said . “ He ’ s very , very strong and explosive . He ’ s getting more and more comfortable with every day that passes .”
The starting center spot will go to
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one of three players — junior Josh Thornton , junior Cy Fisher or sophomore Cash Jones . Other players expected to see time up front include Carter Kelly , Brock Mascho , Vernon Buckner and Tristan Lawrence .
“ We ’ ve got guys , it ’ s the experience factor ,” Gilbert said . “ When you get away from those top three guys , you really have nobody with any game experience . We know there ’ s still lots left to do with this group , but we like kind of where they ’ re at . Coach [ Gary ] Mc- Clure does a really good job with those guys , getting them prepared every year .” DEFENSE Tahlequah will be in an odd situation with its defensive front in 2022 .
The Tigers won ’ t have much , if any , experience from its front three after losing starters Aiden Glynn , Jonathan Davis and Hunter Clay .
Gilbert hasn ’ t been in a situation
See TIGERS , page 14

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Gridiron Preview Fall 2022 • 13