Photo by Brian Paglia / Locust Grove rising senior Keenan Wise is returning as starting quarterback for the Wildcats after passing and running for over 2,000 yards last season.
Clint Satterfield has spent hours this summer deep in research. The Locust Grove football coach has scrolled through video after video of the latest college football offensive innovations on his office computer, looking for plays that could equip Keenan Wise with the tools to help make school history.
Road to kickoff
The Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald is counting down the days until our high school football special section comes out on August 24 by taking a look at all 22 area high school football teams.
That’s what seems to be on the rising senior quarterback’s shoulders this season.
“I think we have a chance to shock a lot of people,” Wise said.
That would mean the fourth-year program taking a big step forward after consecutive 2-8 seasons.
But there are plenty of reasons for optimism — a roster filled with experience, a manageable schedule, a returning starter at quarterback and a coach willing to stretch the bounds of his offensive preferences to suit his quarterback’s skills.
Locust Grove at a glance
Last year: 2-8
Summer progress: The program’s level of participation is stagnant, but that’s not as bad as it sounds. Fourth-year coach Clint Satterfield said his team has the right mix of experience and chemistry that he’s been waiting for.
Work to do: The kicking game still worries Satterfield. Right now, it’s linebacker Justin Drakes — and that’s it.
Emerging player: Tony Nelms. The rising sophomore defensive end transferred to Locust Grove from Luella, where he was the junior varsity defensive player of the year. Satterfield has high hopes for Nelm.
Indeed, Satterfield has preferred the triple-option offense in his time as head coach at Jonesboro and Locust Grove. It suited those schools, where the quarterback talent was unpredictable.
But Satterfield knows what he has in Wise.
“He’s a dual threat,” Satterfield said.
Two years ago, Wise was only a part-time threat. He started at wide receiver as a sophomore, then made the transition to quarterback before last season.
That meant learning all the intricate details of the triple-option, which made for a bewildering offseason for Wise.
“It was a lot to learn and take in over one summer,” Wise said. “I had to know where guys were going to be. There were a lot of long practices.”
Wise showed promise last season, even if it didn’t materialize in the win column. He passed for 1,010 yards, rushed for 1,100 yards, scored 11 touchdowns and started to turn a corner the final three weeks of the season.
Through the first seven games, Locust Grove averaged 10.8 points.
Over their final three games, the Wildcats averaged 21.3 points.
Wise started to become dangerous on the field.
“My reads were getting easier,” he said, “and we started spreading out more.”
Those final three games inspired Satterfield’s offseason research. He believes Wise could be poised for a breakout season if given the proper offense.
So he’s poured over video footage of Utah State and Louisiana Tech, college programs known for their offensive creativity out of the spread offense. He’s studied Georgia Southern and Navy, two traditional triple-option teams who have experimented with more spread formations in recent years.
He’s looked everywhere he could to give Wise what he needs to make the Wildcats a team to be reckoned with.
“We’re expecting real big things from him,” Satterfield said. “He’s the key. He’s going to have a lot of reads. As his play goes, so will our offense.”