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Atoka Wampus Cats 2023 Football Team Preview – Presented by Stuteville Ford of Atoka





Entering his fifth season as the head coach of the Wampus Cats, Atoka head coach Jacob Cupp returns a handful of starters from last year’s team that made the Class 2A playoffs but were unfortunate enough to run into eventual state champion Washington in the first round. “We will be young and inexperienced, but we have quite a few kids that can fill the open roles we need them to,” said Cupp. Atoka does have some key skill players returning on offense which should help stabilize things at the outset. Quarterback Peyton Pugh (5-7, 170, Jr.) threw for 623 yards and five touchdowns last year. “Peyton does everything right, is dependable and will lead the team in the right direction,” were the words of praise from the head coach for his returning signal caller. One of the guys that Pugh will look for on his aerials will be returning wide receiver Ayden Middleton (5-6, 145, Jr.) and the running game will again be in the hands of Mike Shields (6-2, 210, Sr.). The Wampus Cats also return a pair of linemen to anchor things up front in Brian Bryant (6-2, 220, Sr.) and TylenRector (6-0, 190, Jr.). Atoka will run out of multiple I offense with the philosophy being to run the ball and control the clock. How quickly and adequately Cupp will find the balance of his starters will determine the Wampus Cats season.


Atoka has just three returning starters on the defensive side of the ball but some others who saw some playing time last year. Lineman Erik Miller (5-11, 200, Sr.) leads the way as one of four seniors on defense. Miller had 34 tackles and one tackle for loss last season. The secondary will be headed by Tallen Barrett (5-6, 150, Sr.) who had 21 tackles and a pair of interceptions in 2022 where he’ll be joined by Malachi Brooks who started as a freshman last year and had 25 tackles. “Malachi is extremely athletic, fast, hard hitting and a real ball hawk. He had a great freshman year and we’re looking for him to have a big year this fall,” said Cupp. Cupp will be looking for linemen like Bryant, Riley Henry (5-11, 200, Sr.) and JD Bland (5-11, 220, Jr.) to pick up where they left off last year and they should be primed for more tackles and more playing time this year. Cupp’s philosophy on defense is simple and to the point: Bend but don’t break and don’t give up the big play.


9-1 – vs. Ringling

9-8 – vs. Lindsay

9-15 – at Antlers

9-22 – at Kingston

9-29 – vs. Marietta

10-6 – at Holdenville

10-12 – vs. Lexington

10-20 – at Davis

10-27 – vs. Tishomingo

11-3 – at Coalgate

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