When Carter Whitson took over the reins at Putnam City High School earlier this year, he inherited a football team that had won just one game in the previous two seasons. After missing out on spring practice and summer drills due to COVID-19, not much was expected from the Pirates his first season.
When Whitson finally got to meet his team in June, he didn’t have much time to get acquainted with his players before starting the season.
“Fortunately for me and my staff, they bought in early and really turned around the culture of this place pretty quick,” said Whitson, who took over at Putnam City after spending six seasons on the coaching staff at Indiana University.
“He’s a guy that, without an offseason, got hurt the most on just learning a new system and how we call our offense,” said Whitson. “It’s been a learning experience for him. He’s been thrown into the deep end this year.”
Hawkins learned to swim pretty quickly as offensive leader of the team. He’s quick to deflect praise for his solid play this season and spreads it around to his teammates.
“The O-line has been doing pretty good and my wide receivers have been doing what they have to do,” claimed Hawkins, who’s been playing quarterback since the seventh grade. “Things have been going good.”
With some new-found enthusiasm and leadership, the Pirates exploded out of the gate this season and won three of their first four games. The Pirates also claimed an impressive 47-44 win over Mustang late in the season and advanced to the postseason.
Hawkins had his best game of the season two weeks ago in the Mustang contest. The junior was a perfect 8-for-8 passing with three touchdowns and added 161 yards on the ground and two more scores.
“He’s really played well the last few weeks,” remarked Whitson. “He’s running the ball well, throwing it well, and making better decisions.”
Hawkins has noticed a big change in the atmosphere and culture of the Putnam City football program. He credits Whitson and his coaching staff, which includes former Oklahoma star Rufus Alexander, for changing attitudes.
“He brought spirit,” said Hawkins of Whitson. “Now we’re just having fun. We weren’t having much fun the last couple of years. This year is a different kind of fun for us.”
With performances like he had against Mustang, it won’t be long before college recruiters start taking a closer look at the Class of 2022 prospect.
“I want to go to the next level and show my talents,” admitted Hawkins, who models his game after NFL QB Russell Wilson. “I would love to play quarterback at the next level, but I’ll go wherever a school needs me.”
“We’re excited about where he’s at and even more excited about his future,” stated Whitson. He’s learning how to be a great quarterback. He’s a pretty special player.”
Putnam City travels to Tulsa to battle #5 Broken Arrow on Friday, November 13th, in the opening round of the Class 6A-I playoffs. YurView will televise this Ford Game of the Week on Cox Channel 3 at 7 pm CT or watch the game online.