By Nate Aker | 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 Tuttle Tigers.
Brad Ballard, 9th season (82-17 at Tuttle)
Multiple on offense, 4 defense
2021 AT A GLANCE
Overall record: 13-1
District Record: 7-0, 1st in District 4A-2
Playoffs: Lost, 35-0, against Clinton in 4A state championship game
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Mason Dennis, 6-2, 190, Sr.
As a 6-foot-2, 190-pound signal-caller, Dennis led the Tigers to the state title game after a stellar, unblemished regular season as just a junior. He posted 1,497 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air last year, throwing for around a 56 percent completion rate.
On his way to the biggest game of his career in a semifinal victory against Poteau, Dennis posted nearly 200 passing yards and three scores en route to the championship. But when it mattered most in the state title game, Dennis struggled and was held to only 39 yards on four completions.
It’s certainly difficult to get to that stage, and especially capitalize against a stout defense like Clinton’s. But, as Dennis enters his senior year, he should be poised and experienced in dealing with pressure as he aims to lead the Tigers back to the title game and climb over that edge to bring Tuttle its first gold ball since 2018.
RB/WR/LB/DB Brady McAdoo, 5-11, 170, So.
In his freshman season, McAdoo was an eye-opener at tailback for Tuttle. A 5-11, 170-pound rusher, McAdoo notched three TDs and over 100 rushing yards in a 49-12 victory versus Harrah.
While he’s productive in the backfield, he’s also a threat lining up in the slot, where he showed he could utilize his speed and create openings in the defense. He’ll look to slice and dice at both of those positions this upcoming season for Tuttle as a sophomore.
LB Jake Tucker, 6-1, 215, Sr.
Tucker proved to be one of the best tacklers for the Tigers last season. The 215-pound linebacker tallied an impressive 113 tackles - 10 for loss - and an interception along with a forced fumble throughout the regular season and the playoffs.
Continuing the Tuttle practice of fiery linebackers, Tucker will look to have another highly productive season to help the Tigers get back to that title game and capitalize in 2022.
In his ninth year at Tuttle, head coach Brad Ballard has continued to bolster the Tigers' football program as they have been a powerhouse since the beginning of the 2000s. Claiming titles in 2001, 2005 and with Ballard in 2018, Tuttle is a program that takes pride in its team and its ferocity and passion for the game of football.
Last year, it seemed like a picture-perfect season, as if the title was awaiting to be given to the Tigers after an undefeated regular season and dominating in their first and second round games.
After defeating Poteau in the semifinals, 28-21, all that was left standing in their way was a determined Clinton Red Tornadoes team. And, it proved to be a team that would topple the Tigers, as Clinton went on to take the crown, winning 35-0.
Now, as Ballard has many starters returning on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Mason Dennis, it seems that the Tigers will return next season with a vengeance. And as you can almost always assume, Tuttle’s defense will be one that won’t give up points lightly this year, with linebackers Jake Tucker, Austin Neasbit and Brady McAdoo, as well as having Douglass Sharp and Major Sharp in the secondary.
Tuttle should certainly be integrated in the mix of potential Class 4A champions in 2022, especially with the motivation the Tigers will possess coming off a crushing loss in the state title game the year prior.
The Tigers kick off the season Aug. 26 on the road at Cache before returning home on Sept. 9 to face Noble. After a non-district home game against Guthrie on Sept. 16, the Tigers open up District 4A-2 play on Sept. 23 with a road tilt at Bethany, with the winner getting a leg up in the district title race.