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Bartlesville Bruins – 2023 Football Team Preview – Presented by City Church





Bartlesville is looking to take another step in 2023 under second-year head coach Harry Wright, who guided the Bruins to the playoffs last year. The Bruins return nine starters on offense, led by centerpiece PJ Wallace (6-1, 205, Jr.) at running back. As a sophomore, Wallace rushed for a district-high 1,731 yards and finished with 14 total touchdowns. “He was dominant to close out the season and has added 15 pounds and improved his 40 to 4.5,” Wright said. Wallace went over 100 yards in Bartlesville’s final seven games, and in three of those he went over 200 yards, including a season-high 245-yard performance in the first round of the playoffs. Bartlesville, who will use a multiple spread, also returns quarterback and captain Nate Neal (5-11, 190, Jr.), who threw for 1,691 yards and 15 TDs in 2022. Neal will have a big target to throw to in receiver Damian Niko (6-2, 180, Jr.), who had 39 receptions for 639 yards and five TDs last year. Others returning include senior receivers Austin Zink (6-0, 190) and Jett Scully (6-1, 170), and senior offensive lineman Cooper Wood (6-5, 275). “[Cooper] has the frame to be a college OL,” Wright said. “He has drastically improved his overall strength and added some weight to his frame.”


The Bruins will be even more experienced on the defensive side of the ball, returning 10 starters. They will be multiple from a three-man front. “Play disciplined fundamental technique football around our motto of #EAT – Effort, Attitude, and Toughness,” Wright said. Some of Wright’s top defenders include defensive backs Brett Eaves (5-11, 170, Sr.) and Mason Manley (5-11, 185, Jr.), linebackers Casey Young (6-0, 220, Sr.), Chase Eaves (5-10, 180, Jr.) and Adyn Peugh (5-11, 200, Sr.), and junior defensive lineman Avery Hitchings (5-11, 240). John Torres, who started in Bartlesville’s final five games last year as a freshman on the offensive line and at tight end, will also be used on the defensive line. Brett Eaves and Manley both posted 55 tackles in 2022. Eaves added 10 pass breakups and five interceptions, and Manley had an interception and a defensive touchdown. Chase Eaves recorded 51.5 tackles, three pass breakups and had a fumble recovery. “We were young last year and have several returning starters that have had a really good offseason,” Wright said. “Going into the second year of the program with our expectations in place, we are looking to take that next step.”


9-1 – vs. Claremore

9-8 – vs. Sapulpa

9-15 – at Collinsville

9-22 – at Booker T. Washington

9-29 – at US Grant

10-6 – vs. Putnam City West

10-12 – vs. Stillwater

10-19 – at Sand Springs

10-27 – vs. Muskogee

11-3 – at Tahlequah

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