The offseason has been a chaotic one for the defending state 7-A Champions. Former Coach Daryl Patton resigned early in the summer leaving Fayetteville scrambling to find a new head coach. The Purple Dogs chose Bill Blankenship as their new head coach in June, and he inherits a loaded football team. Blankenship has experience in the college ranks, as the University of Tulsa’s head coach and experience in the high school ranks having coached Tulsa Union High School for 14 seasons and leading them to 154-26 record.
However, a new coach does not mean that the Purple Dogs are without weapons. Fayetteville returns Wake Forest commit Taylor Powell. Powell passed for over 3,500 yards and 49 touchdowns in 2015. Powell should be a powerful weapon for the Purple Dogs this year, but so will three returning starters on the offensive line returning for the 2016 season. Throw in running back-slot receiver Terrance Rock and you have a dangerous football team on the offensive side of the ball.
Fayetteville may perhaps be just as talented on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Akial Byers is drawing attention and offers from colleges such as Alabama, Ohio State, and Mississippi State. Byers has the ability to take a game over and usually requires a double team when being blocked. Strong Safety Luke Waller is a player to keep an eye on after he led Fayetteville last year in tackles, racking up 107 on the season. The Purple Dogs have the pieces on defense to be stingy and contend for another state title.
The Fayetteville Purple Dogs have a talented roster coming back and should contend for the 7-A West Title and the state championship. The coaching change may have an impact on the season and that is something we should be able to see in the first couple of weeks. At this point, heading into the season in about a month or so I would have to say Fayetteville is the favorite to win the state championship.