Following a “surreal” victory, the Wagoner Bulldogs return to business.

Editor’s note: Spring football practices have started in most state high schools. Writers Barry Lewis and Bill Heisten are scheduled to visit selected local schools for the 2023 season. This article is the fourth in a series of reports from their visits.

Thursday’s visit is in Collinsville.

During the second week of spring football practice, Wagoner quarterback Cale Charbonneau and receiver Witt Edwards showed that they are ready to pick up where they left off during the Class 4A championship game nearly six months ago. On Monday afternoon, Charbonneau threw a 50-yard bomb to Edwards, who caught it effortlessly and went straight into the end zone. They did this several times during practice.

Last year, during spring practice and early-season games, Wagoner struggled with their offensive plays. However, with Charbonneau, who accumulated 2,691 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2022, leading the team this year, they feel less pressured.

“One of our greatest assets right now is that our offense works very early on,” Edwards said. Last year, the players had to learn to play the game and work as a team, which they accomplished during the championship game. With Charbonneau leading the five-minute drive, Wagoner won 24-21 over Cushing in the title game. With one second left in the first half, Charbonneau and Edwards connected TD passes to give the Bulldogs a comeback start from a 21-7 deficit. It was also Edwards’ best catch of the year, and it was a pivotal play that kept Wagoner’s 48-game winning streak from 2014-17.

“Witt is probably the longest athlete we’ve ever had. He has every bit of a 6-6 and has 10 1/2″ hands. It has all the measurable things you want in a college player with speed on the end. This spring he really made a decision to better himself.” Coach Dale Condict said. Edwards is the #2 ranked rookie player state-wide in the senior class this year. He’s listed as a tight end, but he’s also been scouted as a receiver, defensive back, and athlete.

Junior defensive end/tight end Alex Shieldknight, who had 12 sacks last season, is also receiving attention from college recruiters. He already has offers from the University of Oklahoma, OSU, Tulsa, Tennessee, Kansas State University, Texas Tech University, and several other major universities. Other notable returning players include receiver/ cornerback Mattson Swanson, linebackers Keaton Cole, Gavin Miller, Bryce Steele, and lineman Dax Griffin.

The championship last year has given extra energy to their program and community this spring. Condict and his players still ponder last year’s title fight and admit to watching the video many times.

“We’ve got such a (big) game this year, and I’m sure we can pull it off,” Shieldknight said. The Bulldogs motto is “BTB — Back to Business”. “Honestly, we lost some good players, but we got even better players,” Edwards said. “The mindset that we are better than everyone else, but if we have that mindset, we know what we can do and we have the assets to do it.”

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