The Duncan Banner
The battle for field position did not go the Demons’ way.
The Duncan High School football team opened the season Friday, hosting one of the top teams in Class 5A, the Guthrie Bluejays.
Mistakes on special teams after the Demons’ first two drives stalled led to the Bluejays starting their first two drives deep in Demon territory, with Guthrie scoring on both.
And just after the Demons got on the scoreboard, the Bluejays returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Duncan could never get momentum back, losing 46-6.
“We didn’t get off to a good start,” said Demon coach Jim Holloway. “We like to be fast out of the gate, but we snapped the ball over the head of our punter and gave up good field position. We gave up six points too quickly.”
The bad snap happened after Duncan’s first drive stalled. Punter Cody Hood tried advancing the ball but was tackled at the Demons’ 13-yard line. The very next play, Guthrie’s Kai Callins scored on a 13-yard run.
The Demons’ next drive stalled at the 30-yard line and an apparent miscommunication led to a fake punt attempt that didn’t work. The Bluejays capitalized, with quarterback Reed Roberts hooking up with Donovan Jordan on a 16-yard pass play that ultimately led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Idae Alexander.
Guthrie added a field goal early in the second quarter, before Duncan finally got on the board. Demon quarterback Connor Kelly first connected with Spencer Cagg for a 21-yard gain that took the ball to midfield, then on third-and-four, hooked up with Nathan Clark on a 45-yard touchdown pass.
But the Bluejays took the momentum right back after Donovan fielded the ensuing kickoff and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.
“We battled back and let them have that long kickoff return for the touchdown,” Holloway said. “Our field position was horrible all night long.”
Alexander scored another touchdown, on a 3-yard run, before the first half ended.
Bluejay coach Rafe Watkins said the three things he’s always concerned with regarding the first game are “special teams, penalties and turnovers.” Guthrie had the only turnover of the game — a fumble which Duncan recovered early in the third quarter — and had 65 yards lost to penalties, but the battle on special teams was in the Bluejays’ favor.
“They had a couple of bad breaks with their punt team,” Watkins said, “while we had too many penalties and some things we got to clean up.”
Yet despite the final score, Watkins believed the Demons will be in the playoffs by season’s end.
“I know Jim Holloway and his staff will get them turned around,” he said. “Hopefully we don’t see them in the playoffs too early.”
Holloway attributed the Demons’ mistakes to inexperience. Although the Demons were able to force a couple of punts, Guthrie’s offense seldom lost control.
“They’ve got an experienced offense, we have an inexperienced defense and it showed on the scoreboard,” Holloway said.
Guthrie added two more touchdowns in the second half. The first came on a 4-yard run by Alexander late in the third quarter and the second came late in the fourth after a 2-yard run by Tanner Meredith.
Kelly led the Demons in rushing with 45 yards on 17 carries. He passed for 67 yards, completing 4-of-10 passes.
The Bluejays rushed for 173 yards, with Alexander tallying 63 yards on 16 carries and Callins adding 66 yards on seven carries.
Despite the loss, Holloway remained optimistic that the Demons will improve.
“We’ll build on the strengths we find and try to eliminate the weaknesses,” he said. “It’s a disappointing loss but it’s not discouraging.”