Kenny Garland

Kenny Garland runs the ball against Noble in a previous matchup. The Demons will now play against El Reno this week in a must-win game that will ultimately control playoff destiny.

After a close game with one of the top teams in the district, the Duncan Demons are in need of a win to control their playoff destiny against a team who just got their first victory of the season a week ago.

The Demons, who faced No. 6 Ardmore and lost 28-21, are 1-5 on the 2021 season with the El Reno Indians also coming into the game with an identical record at 1-5.

Duncan head coach JT Cobble took pride in the effort of his team this past Friday and felt the athletes are heading in the right direction, although he hopes to see continued progress and growth.

“All we have tried to do each week is get better and I feel like we have done that each week. We have started out six weeks ago with a young team with guys who didn’t have much experience and we are still a really young team,” Cobble said. “They are starting to grow up a little bit and I feel like Friday night, they finally did what I have been asking them to do which is play complementary football and fight for four quarters and do stuff like getting lined up right.”

Cobble said the work put in shows thus far but constant betterment and sharp focus are what’s needed to reach the target.

“We did that for the most part and I don’t think it was a coincidence that we had every opportunity to beat the number five team in the state,” Cobble said. “I also told the team after the game that I don’t do moral victories because we still lost the game which means we still have to get better. We still, if we want to get where we want to go, have to spend time getting better and get focused on that.”

A year ago, the Demons and El Reno battled to overtime in the regular season with El Reno getting the 43-42 victory, however both opponents graduated a bunch of players and are dealing with young teams.

Cobble said this game with El Reno — who currently holds the number four spot in the district — is kind of like both teams’ big games of the year so far when it comes to each school securing their goal of post-season play.

“If we want to control our own destiny, then we have to win the game. If we don’t win the game then we have to hope another team beats another team and stuff like that,” Cobble said. “At the same time, that is the same scenario as El Reno, and their coaches are telling the kids the same thing. It really is each team’s Super Bowl if you will and you’ve got to win the game if you want to have a chance to make the playoffs in this district, which is a good feat.”

Duncan’s lineup will have to focus on opponents from El Reno in the likes of Mikey and Xavior Devereaux, both returning starters for the Indians.

Another player Cobble pinpointed as a focus for the Demons includes Devonne Smith. Ultimately Cobble feels limiting the opposing athletes’ abilities will be important to Duncan’s success in the game.

“They have some pieces over there that can beat you if you are not clicking on all cylinders. El Reno is always going to show up and fight with you while playing hard,” Cobble said. “If we are not doing what we are supposed to do, like getting lined up right and establishing a run game, then it won’t go the way we want. Hopefully we can come out early and jump on them from the get-go and develop a little bit of lead so we can control the clock and the football.”

As the Demons set out to end their losing streak and cement confidence in their standings, Cobble feels momentum for the athletes is at an all time season high.

“Our morale and momentum is fine. I feel like this team, we understand that we have a losing record and out of the 5A teams we played this year, their combined record is 22-2,” Cobble said. “We have played the meat of our schedule and played the best teams we are going to play and we came out of it healthy and with good experience. It will help us in the future and it will help us Thursday night and will help us in years to come.”

That momentum is derived from leadership and sustained morale.

“We have had good practices and the leaders on the team have done a good job of keeping the practices up beat and keeping the morale high,” he said. “I personally feel like the way we played last Friday that we are one of the better 1-5 football teams out there. All we can do is play the opponent that is in front of us — and that is El Reno, Altus, Southeast and Capitol Hill — while not looking past anybody. Each team has their strengths and they are capable of beating you on any given Friday night. Right now, we are focused on El Reno and hoping to get a victory there.”

Duncan will play at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at El Reno High School where they will look to go 2-5 on the season.

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