The Duncan Banner

Sports

April 6, 2014

Benson moving forward with Demon football

DUNCAN — New Duncan football coach Craig Benson has started preparations for the team’s offseason program and fall season.

Benson comes to Duncan from Sallisaw, where he coached the past six seasons. He is at the Duncan football coaching office regularly, but is finalizing his move to the community.

Benson sat down with The Duncan Banner Friday to discuss what he expects from the program.

Q: What are the keys to getting players involved with a football program?

A: Any time there’s a change, it gives kids who may not have played before, or who played earlier and then didn’t come out, a new life and chance. Your numbers increase because of sheer curiosity in the new guy and what he’s all about.

Another key is to meet and greet as much as you can, shakes as many kids’ hands as you can, and be as transparent as possible, so they understand you and what you are all about.

Q: How can you best sell people on your program?

A: There’s two kinds of situations. When you come into a program, you want to embrace the old traditions in the program that have been in place. At the same time, there are tweaks and changes you can make that are beneficial to the program.

Sometimes change is tough. At the same time, changes can be positive and they are beneficial to get us to where we want to be down the road. Those are the things I need to sell to the kids, the parents, and the administration, that those changes are necessary.

Q: What have you gauged about community interest in the Duncan football program?

A: I’ve said from day one that one of the things that makes a football job a good job, is that when you go down to the local coffee shop, go to local businesses and see what the buzz is all about, and hear about how good the football team is. That means there’s a lot of interest, and when there’s a lot of interest, it becomes a focal part of the community.

I think community interest has been widespread, and with that comes a lot of expectations. Any time a person is put into a position where change is coming, people want to know what will be the changes. But there is a sense of excitement about change.

Q: Do you have your coaching staff in place?

A: It’s early but it is starting to take shape. I have a few people who are committed but I can’t name names right now. But I can tell you that they are high energy coaches who come from a good pedigree. They’ll bring a lot of knowledge to the program.

Right now, I am trying to recruit more coaches. I am not just gathering applications and not just sitting on my heels waiting for people. I’m trying to find interest from guys who I respect.

Q: What offense do you plan to run?

A: Until we get into spring football and find out what pieces we have in place,  (I can’t discuss specifics). I would like to be an up-tempo, fast-paced offense and spread it out. That doesn’t mean we will never run the football. I believe if you can run the football, you can win games. But we want to be a multiple team and a very creative team.

Q: What defense do you want to run?

A: Again, I need to find out what pieces of the puzzle we have and what can be effective. We do need to be sound and line up creatively. The spring time is a great time to find out what players we can plug into what roles and then find out what kind of defense we will be in.

Spring football will start May 19 and we have 10 days to get in 10 workouts. We will have two weeks of that, a team camp to be determined, and we’ll have our 7-on-7 we do in the summer.

Q: How has the transition from Sallisaw to Duncan gone?

A: There have been some people who have made the transition as easy as possible. When you don’t live close and you don’t have access to your own house, and you are making a transition, (it can be difficult).

I grew up with (Duncan resident) Melanie Wilkins, and she and (husband) Tony Wilkins have helped make the transition easier. The athletic secretaries have jumped through hoops to bring me up to speed about the inner workings of the program. (Athletic Director) Burl White has been a pillar of support with his insight. There’s administration that has provided me with the resources I need to be successful.

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