Duncan linebackers

Ricky Mayes, left, and Chase Hall will be counted on to lead the linebackers for the Duncan Demons football team.

On the outside, Chase Hall and Ricky Mayes might not look like they have a lot in common. One is shorter than the other. One has a burr hair cut and one has long hair.

Upon further review, they have quite a bit in common. They are both seniors and they both take playing linebacker for the Duncan Demons very seriously.

However, Mayes might feel more responsibility for the defense this season, as he is the team’s top returning tackler from 2005.

“There is an added responsibility,” Mayes said. “Last year, we had a lot of chemistry at the end of the year and I wanted to bring that back this year . . . I was fortunate enough to be part of that and I really wanted to bring that back.”

Mayes said that there is a sense of accomplishment in recording 86 tackles last season, but that last year’s numbers don’t mean that much this season.

“In a sense, it is rewarding, but in a sense, those are just numbers,” he said. “The only reason that I got half of those numbers is because we had a great defensive line and a great defense surrounding me. That has to continue this year.”

Hall is excited about the prospect of getting a lot of playing time this season.

“Coach Holloway does a good job of giving us our keys and we know what we’re supposed to do,” Hall said. “We just have to get in there and do our jobs. I feel like I have to do my job for my teammates. I have to get in there and show Coach and others on my team that I can do it. We have to show other teams as well that we are going to be there and that they can’t just run through us. I may not be 6-5 and 220, but I can get in the hole and stop someone.”

Mayes said that the linebackers could be very good this season.

“We have the opportunity to be a really good group of linebackers just because we already know the defense,” Mayes said. “Last year was Coach (Jim) Holloway’s first year installing the defense, and it took us the first few weeks just to learn the defense. We come back this year and we already know the defense. We start right off the bat with techniques. We have the knowledge to be good linebackers. It is just stepping up on Friday nights.”

A season of learning under the coaches will make a difference this season, Hall said.

“I remember coming in at midseason last year and we were just starting to work on some of the stuff that we already have established,” Hall said. “I know we are ahead of last year. We’ve got a got set of linebackers that know more about what they are doing.

Mayes said that winning the first game against Noble tonight will be important for DHS season.

“We need to start off with a win to gain momentum to win games after that,” he said. “Last year, we didn’t start off so hot, but I think if we could have started off with a few more wins, we would have been looking at a home playoff spot.”

The Demons are trying to build off of the late run that put DHS in the playoffs.

“We are rolling off of last season a little bit,” Mayes said. “We know we aren’t the biggest guys, but we try to make up for that with speed. We are going to be undersized a lot of the time, but our mentality is that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

The Demons are on the verge of cracking the Associated Press Top 10 and are ranked ninth by The Oklahoman. Mayes and Hall said that the respect they garnered from last season means a lot.

“It is very rewarding,” Mayes said. “We worked so hard beating Lawton MacArthur and Southeast back to back (last season). It is very rewarding getting that respect from last season, but, again, that was last season, and this is a new team.”

“We have to carry that momentum over and keep that respect up,” Hall said.

Mayes and Hall both know that there isn’t going to be a lot of trickery when the Noble Bears are on offense.

“They are going to run right at us,” Mayes said. “I’ve been watching a lot of film, and we’ve been watching a lot of film as a whole, and basically, they are going to run the ball at us all night long. We’ve got step in the holes and make the tackle. If we’re not making a tackle, we’re funneling it to the outside linebackers. They are going to play smash-mouth football with us.”

“We have to get in the hole quick and beat them to the punch,” Hall said. “If we can get to the hole quick and fill it, we’ll be good.”

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