They go by Thunder and Lightning.
Sophomore Tre’Von “Thunder” Jackson prefers to run inside the tackles, while junior Deavonte “Lightning” Doucet likes to get into space.
The combination of running backs is one new Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson hopes will spark his new spread offense and help the Broncos return to their successful ways now years in the past.
Denton finished 1-9 last year and didn’t win a district game.
“I think that’s something that I kind of tagged them with,” said Atkinson, who is entering his 11th season as a head coach. “They liked it, and they easily knew which one was ‘Lighting’ and which one was ‘Thunder.’”
Both Jackson and Doucet are among Denton’s players thrust into different roles. Those changes, along with a switch in head coaches, led to some low expectations.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football projects the Broncos to finish in the eighth and last spot in Distinct 5-4A.
Doucet took exception to the ranking and plans on using it as fuel for the fire.
“We expected the rankings to be close to where they were,” Doucet said, “But last? We shouldn’t be last. That just makes me want to prove to them even more that we are more than what we were last year. Last year was way in the past.”
Guyer is projected to win the district, but Jackson said he has circled the showdown with the Wildcats on his calendar.
“I’m looking forward to beating our rivals and winning more games,” Jackson said. “The coaches want us to win more and they have high expectations for us. Everybody is going to get used to the new coaches, and we are going to win more games.”
Doucet, who is a cousin of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Early Doucet, will also play the wide-out spot in the new spread formation, which should allow Denton to utilize his quickness and versatility.
“It feels pretty good knowing that I’m going to be a part of something that’s about to be really big,” Doucet said. “I’m just excited to see what we are going to do. I want to turn people’s heads. We are ready for anything and everything.”
Doucet said he can tell this season will be different by the resistance the defense provides for him during practice.
“Just taking it from my experience, last year it wasn’t as hard to get by my defense,” Doucet said. “Now, I have to play [harder] to get by my defense. That’s good because they are making me better and I’m making them better. At the end of the day, both offense and defense are going to perform how they should.”
Atkinson has instituted a motto for this year’s Bronco squad called “win the day.” The abbreviation “WTD” is displayed on each player’s helmet as a reminder for how the players need to go about their work.
When asked what the motto meant to him, Jackson described it as a way of life.
“Take everything seriously and do everything like a champion,” Jackson said.
Atkinson thinks if his team can work off of that motto and improve little by little throughout the year, the Broncos will be where their head coach wants them to be at the end of the season.
The 2011 season is in the past to Atkinson, so much so that he didn’t bother to look back at last year’s team as a guide for this year’s team.
“I didn’t watch one clip of last year’s Denton Bronco team,” Atkinson said. “That’s why your windshield is so big and your rearview mirror is so small. You need to spend more time looking at where you’re going than where you’ve been.”
District: District 5-4A
2011 record: 1-9 (0-6 in District 4-4A)
Coach: Kevin Atkinson (First season at Denton, 51-54 in 10 seasons overall)
Returning starters: Three on offense, two on defense
Key players: OT Gage Hoadley, Deavonte Doucet, RB Tre’Von Jackson, QB Cy Ward, LB Ryan Duggan, LB Kyle Hubbert
School enrollment: 1,851
Stadium: Bronco Field
Keys to a historic season
Control field position
Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson is actually fond of giving the ball away, but only when it’s the right play choice. Instead of forcing a pass play and potentially turning the ball over, Atkinson advocates making the smart play on third down. “The rule I like to have is reserve the right to punt. Sometimes punting isn’t bad. Sometimes you’re going to go three-and-out. The biggest thing I think kids need to learn is the game of field position. If you get the ball inside the 10, I’m looking to get two first downs and play defense and force a turnover.”
Capitalize on home field
The Broncos will play at least one home game at C.H. Collins, but the majority of their home games will be at Bronco Field. Atkinson wants to bring the tradition and history back to Denton. “We want to win on our home field and make it difficult to come here and play. We want to represent the stadium and the history that it brings. If we had to go to C.H. Collins every game, then that would be like an away game even if we’re home. If you can walk right out your back door, there is something special about that.”
Lean on linebackers
With just two returning starters on defense, the Broncos will need to play to their strengths and put the upperclassmen such as senior linebacker Ryan Duggan and junior Kyle Hubbert in a position to make the biggest impact. “We’ve got two solid inside linebackers with Duggan and Kyle Hubbert,” Atkinson said. “Duggan is going to be a big factor and Lucas Munoz is going to be a big factor at defensive line. We’ve got more depth at our defensive line and we are a little light depth-wise at linebacker.”
With the availability of players with a significant amount of playing time at a minimum, Atkinson has instilled a philosophy that requires each player to focus on their individual assignments. Where there might be a player with significant experience there are several players with an equal amount of inexperience, and Atkinson is using the individual responsibility as a requisite for playing time. “If they all will know how to execute their assignments, they will all play,” Atkinson said.