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November 14, 2013

Demons made many strides since season opener

DUNCAN — Duncan football coach Jim Holloway knew, going into the 2013 season, that the Demons (3-6) would have several obstacles to overcome.

And even though the Demons missed the playoffs, Holloway said that the Demons turned in a quality season — a quality season made possible by the Demons’ commitment and senior leadership.

“We had 20 kids with perfect attendance in our summer pride program — the largest I’ve experienced as a head coach,” Holloway said. “The leadership displayed by our senior class, a whole, was second to none.”

The Demons didn’t return many experienced players — in particular, they did not return a single starter among the defensive front seven and returns just one full-time starter in the secondary.

On offense, Holloway said, the coaches knew they had the ability to move the football, but “we didn’t know how much tweaking we’d have to do to the offense as the season progressed.”

In Duncan’s season opener against Guthrie, a 46-6 loss, Holloway said the team’s issues were pretty evident.

The Demons’ next game against Weatherford was cancelled because of heavy rain. Then came Carl Albert — and that was when Holloway saw noticeable improvement, despite a 28-6 loss.

“We grew up as fast as any group I can remember, and it showed on the field,” he said.

Holloway said the defense played very well throughout the season. While there were some games in which the team’s inexperience was “too difficult to overcome,” the coach said, the defense made much progress.

“In the Del City and Chickasha games, our youth still showed,” Holloway said, “but defensively, I thought we made marked improvement throuhgout the season.”

As for the offense, Holloway said the Demons did a good job controlling the ball and the time of possession in most games. That meant the defense didn’t have to take the field as much.

Holloway added that the Demons inability to throw the ball as effectively as the coaches wanted, plus crucial turnovers in the last two weeks of the season, were issues. But he was pleased with the offense’s overall performance.

“I thought our offense gave us a chance to win every football game we played,” he said.

Holloway added that freshman kicker Nathan Rushin showed much improvement throughout the season, and that the special teams units covered well on most punt and kick returns.

Along with some young players getting their first taste of varsity football, the Demons had five coaches who were new to the team. The new coaches varied in terms of the experience they brought, but Holloway said that they had to adjust to how the Demons prepared for games.

“That in itself was a huge task,” he said.

Yet things came together for players and coaches alike, Holloway said. It was the players’ camraderie, Holloway said, that particularly made it easy on him and the coaching staff.

“I told our players that they made it a real pleasure to coach,” he said. “Sometimes there can be so many distractions and so much drama, and at times, (coaching) can be when it’s not fun.

“But the seniors (in 2012) laid a good foundation that this year’s group continued. I stayed in coaching this long because of the type of players we had. They made it so much fun.”

The end result, Holloway said, was that the coaching staff got a lot out of the players this season. He said the only downside was missing the playoffs.

“We got so much out of this particular group, and maybe more, than most people realistically may have thought,” Holloway said. “I’m just disappointed they didn’t get to the playoffs, because they are very deserving.”

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