Everywhere you look, there’s a buzz about the football teams of Stephens County.
Everybody’s undefeated, players are back out on the field and with just three weeks remaining until the games begin, area teams are taking the first steps of the 2013 season at practices.
Duncan opened with the team’s photo day Wednesday before getting back on the field for their second day of practice. For coach Jim Holloway, every day is part of a master plan heading into the season. The Demons will spend the rest of the week installing the offensive and defensive schemes before repeating it two more times. Then, in the days leading up to the regular season, Duncan will turn its attention to its first opponent Guthrie.
“The thing I’ve noticed the most is the energy and enthusiasm of our kids,” Holloway said. “That’s what we’re looking for. We want hard working, intelligent players who bring that energy each day.”
A new era is beginning in Velma-Alma, as former Comets stars Checotah Lynn, Dallen Mercer, Austin Dennis and Ty Dulworth have moved on after graduation.
With a new crop of players and two fresh faces on the coaching staff – offensive coordinator Colt Allison and assistant coach Bobby Moore – it’s a fresh start out in Comet country.
“We’ve gotten a booster shot, so to speak,” head coach Greg Gothard said. “The attitude of the players has been great and our new coaches are fired up. There’s a renewed spirit for me and the kids.”
With V-A focusing on conditioning and implementing its offensive and defensive schemes through Thursday, the real competition in its practices begin Friday.
“Friday and Saturday, we’re going to cut the chatter out and hit each other,” Gothard said. “A lot of assessments will be made and we’ll get a great idea of the players who can help our team this year.”
With a younger team and coaching staff, Gothard said the days of lining up in formations and blocking dummies will help the players and the practices serve as a teaching tool for the coaches as well.
Expectations are high out at Empire, with most of the team’s starters returning to play for the Bulldogs in 2013. Dylan Twigg, the team’s starting quarterback, has caught coach Tony Roberts’ eye in the team’s practices.
“We’re bringing back so many kids, so the expectations are high this year,” Roberts said. “Dylan was able to break out last year when Tanner Shorter was hurt, and he’s looked great in practice so far.”
A big focus for this Empire team is staying healthy.
“One of my concerns is our lack of depth at key positions,” Roberts said. “It’ll be important to stay healthy and keeping all our guys on the field.”
Recent history dictates that the Bulldogs will be right in the mix again in 2013. They’ve made the playoffs four years in a row, and the goal this time around is to host a playoff game.
“This team has the talent to be a contender for a district championship,” Roberts said. “For right now, it’s about getting our assignments right and working on the mental side of things.”