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October 10, 2013

Demons await challenge from Ardmore

DUNCAN — Duncan’s strong defensive showing made the difference last week.

This week, the defense is likely to have a bigger test as the Demons (2-2) hosts Ardmore (4-1) in a District 1-5A showdown at Halliburtion Field.

Duncan held Altus  to 79 yards rushing and only seven first downs, three on penalties.

Demon coach Jim Holloway praised defensive coordinator Kim Longest for his game preparations, but what was just as important was how the players executed on that side of the ball.

“Defensively, it’s all about lining up correctly,” Holloway said, “then, fundamentally, playres have to execute their proper technique. The defensive line has got to control the offensive line and then the linebackers have got to clean everything up and make tackles, control gaps and be sound defensively. A lot of little things go into it.”

The offense more than did its part, tallying 366 yards rushing. Holloway said that good run defense, combined with running the ball well, are “the ingredients for success.”

But now comes Ardmore, No. 5 in Class 5A in the Associated Press coaches’ poll and a top contender for the district title. The Tigers picked up a key district victory last week against Del City, 29-20. Del City is No. 10 in Class 5A and holds a 38-18 victory over district rival Lawton MacArthur, No. 9 in 5A.

Holloway said Ardmore’s win over Del City “surprised a lot of people.” He noted that Del City did not have its starting quarterback, but “injuries are part of the game.”

More importantly, the Tigers have a talented roster. Holloway said that the Tigers return nine players on both sides of the ball, but that some new players are starting. Still, that means the Tigers have plenty of depth, Holloway said.

“We expect a tough game from a quality opponent,” Holloway said. “They have speed, size, receivers who are fast, receivers who are tall, and they are showing more physical play than what they had a couple of years ago.”

Sophomore Clay Atwood enters his second year as Ardmore’s starting quarterback. Although Atwood did not finish last week’s game against Del City because of an injury, Holloway noted junior backup quarterback Jarred Hall is just as talented.

“Each and every game is one step closer to securing a playoff spot or losing it,” Holloway said, adding that whoever wins Friday’s contest will be the only 3-0 team in the district.

The Demons will need to improve kick coverage, given that they gave up two kickoff returns for touchdowns last week against Altus. Holloway said those came down to players not executing their coverage responsibilities and not tackling properly.

While Holloway said the ball may not have been kicked deep, the kick return issues last week were not the fault of the kicker.

“We’d kick the ball to the 40, they’d recover it at the 10, and when you are in space, you have to remember to play solid gap control,” Holloway said.

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