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New Sallisaw coach ready to revive tradition-rich program

Black Diamonds to install up-tempo offense and have several options in the backfield.

By Ty Loftis | Photo by Karen Schwartz 

Over the next few weeks, SBLive Oklahoma will break down high school football teams from the four largest classifications in the state in anticipation of the upcoming 2022 season. Here's our look at the Sallisaw Black Diamonds. 

HEAD COACH

Mark Hutson, 1st season

2021 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 1-9

District record: 1-6, 7th in District 4A-4

Playoffs: Did not qualify

PLAYERS TO WATCH

QB's Brock Streun and Parker Jackson

As fall practice starts up, first-year coach Mark Hutson will be looking to determine who to lead the Black Diamond offense. Junior Brock Streun (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) totaled 1,050 yards and finished with 10 touchdowns last year, and senior Parker Jackson (6-1, 190) impressed as well.

RB/WR Sim Kilpatrick, 5-11, 165, Sr.

Senior do-it-all Kilpatrick will be utilized on offense with his 4.47 40-speed playmaking ability.

RB's Ashton Foster and Cole Stephens

A pair of juniors, Foster (5-9, 145) and Stephens (5-10, 180), will also be counted on to run the ball, especially when Kilpatrick is lined up at receiver.

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Caleb Cowan and Cooper Jackson

On defense, Caleb Cowan (6-1, 240, Sr.) will anchor the Black Diamond three-man front and Cooper Jackson (6-1, 195, So.) will lead Sallisaw at the linebacker spot.

OUTLOOK

Sallisaw has long been a school rich with tradition, having won state titles in 1980-81 and playing for the 4A championship in 2000 and again in 2001.

But the Black Diamonds have hit a dry spell of late. They have had one winning record over the past five seasons.

A 1-9 team from a year ago was largely inexperienced, and Hutson is hoping to bring his coaching pedigree to Sallisaw and turn things around for the better. He knows it will take work, but understands it can be done with time.

"I remember the championships that they won back in 1980 and 1981, and have known several people through the years that have come here,” Hutson said. “I’m just going to work on re-establishing that and getting that back into the program.”

Hutson was an All-American offensive lineman at the University of Oklahoma before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1988.

Since retiring from the NFL as a player, Hutson has coached at various places in college including Tulsa, Boise State and Arkansas. He also coached in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns.

Hutson is set to install his up-tempo offense, but still seeing who best fits in each spot.

“We are going do what our kids can do and not ask them to do what they can’t do,” Hutson said. “The style will be a one-back offense. We will go two wide, three wide and four wide.”

Mark Hutson’s son, Ethan, will serve as offensive coordinator.

Sallisaw kicks off its season Aug. 26 at Stilwell. Following a bye week, the Diamonds return home Sept. 9 to take on Sequoyah County rival Muldrow and will go to Tahlequah the following week.

On Sept. 23, the Black Diamonds start their 4A-4 schedule at home against Ada.

COACH SAID

“I have had the opportunity to be a head coach at the collegiate level twice now. I’m looking forward to running my own program and putting things into place some of my thoughts and some of the things that I have worked on." - Mark Hutson