Duncan Demons head coach JT Cobble returned to his office Thursday morning after a two week quarantine finished, feeling a little better after his battle with COVID-19.
The Duncan Demons football team, which wasn’t quarantined, spent time conditioning and working with two of the coaches who didn’t require quarantine. The whole coaching staff was to return the day of the game that was supposed to happen between district rival MacArthur Highlanders.
The district offered to play the game on Saturday, according to Cobble, however the Highlanders refused to play one day later and Duncan instead decided to cancel the game outright.
Cobble said his COVID-19 symptoms first appeared the Saturday after the Guthrie game. He said the first few days were OK, but towards the middle were the worst part of the virus.
“The Coronavirus has made a believer out of me and I will be the first to say that I might have been a little skeptical towards it and might have just thought that it was just like getting the flu,” Cobble said. “It is not and my symptoms started the Saturday after Guthrie. They stayed pretty steady for about three, or four, or five days and then six, seven, eight and nine it started getting pretty bad. I never had to go to the hospital but I did go to the doctors a couple of times and got put on some inhalers and some steroids and there is obviously no cure for it so the thing that helps is rest and it literally is a lot of rest and getting out and walking around the house a couple of times when you can for your lungs.”
Using technology to his advantage, Cobble said he remained in close contact with the players and assistant coaches who were in quarantine and said the assistants held meetings with the players using Zoom to talk football.
The two coaches running the practices during the last two weeks included Ricky Oliver and Braxdan Turner. Cobble said he was proud of the way they ran those practices and that all players kept showing up.
“I believe talking with the coaches and to the kids, it has been pretty upbeat and positive manner. It sucks for the kids that they don’t get to play for two weeks and they lose two games out of a 10 game season, but that is what you have to learn to deal with now a days,” Cobble said. “The leaders and the seniors have done a real good job of making sure the practices stay steady and making sure everybody has been coming and no one has missed. They have been trying to stay on some sort of track — when we all do get back, we can pick up where we left off.”
Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association put in a rule on Friday, Sept. 18 during a special meeting that if a district game needs to be canceled, it will count as a no-contest.
OSSAA approved the MacArthur-Duncan game as a no contest. Cobble said he is glad they are putting rules into place to protect the players and teams.
“I think the OSSAA put this rule into effect to protect teams of things that were out of their control. I don’t think that it has to do with just the kids getting quarantined or getting the coronavirus,” Cobble said. “I mean there are way more aspects to a football team than just the kids because it is our job as coaches to prepare them and get them ready and make sure they stay healthy and in condition and able to perform in a violent game. I saw … literally my whole staff being quarantined for two weeks except for two guys. We had no offensive coaches here and I just didn’t see a way it would be feasible to play this game. We started brain storming as a coaches and seeing if we could maybe work something out to film practices and look at it and see the things we needed to fix and zoom with our position meetings.”
Cobble did mention that if he was the only coach in quarantine, he believes this game would have taken place as he would have trusted his assistant coaches to carry on in his absence.
While the next game for the Demons is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at Noble High School, Cobble said he was proud of the way the community has supported him and is glad to be at Duncan.
“The community support — I said since I have gotten here is the best I have ever seen and I want to say from a personal stand point from when I was going through this, the amount of support that was given to me, the people who reached out to me and asked what I could do and what they could bring and what I needed was endless and made my heart swell,” Cobble said. “To see people who didn’t have to do that and I didn’t really expect to do that — they did and it is really good to know that you have the people in this community that care about you and care about your program, care about these kids enough to take time out of their day to help out to get us back as quickly as possible.”