On Wednesday afternoon, players plowed through the front door of Denton head football coach Kevin Atkinson’s office.
They greeted him with shouts of standardized test scores, cheerfully bragging to their new head coach about their accomplishments. Atkinson, with eyes wide open and mouth hanging slightly open, congratulated his players and chatted with a couple of kids about Tuesday’s spring game.
The Purple and Gold teams played to a 21-21 tie, the final touchdown coming on a pass from Luke Satterfield to Mike Hollis, a pass tipped three times before it was caught as time expired.
The buzz from the game lingered throughout Jim Bateman Fieldhouse on Wednesday. The buzz around town about Denton’s new head coach has failed to subside as well.
Since Atkinson was hired three months ago, his ideas of what to expect have been fairly accurate.
“I thought kids would be hungry and eager to want to change and do things to win, and that’s what I’m finding,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson was the head coach at Keller for 10 years, compiling a 50-55 overall record and a 1-4 record in the playoffs.
Atkinson also was an assistant at Ryan, Flower Mound Marcus and Colleyville Heritage. The Broncos went 1-9 last season, including 0-6 in district play, under former coach Randy Patzkowski.
Spring practice signaled the start of a rebuilding process aimed at restoring Denton’s ailing program.
Atkinson said eight or nine players who weren’t even in the program last year will receive some significant playing time next season. Almost all the positions are open, with summer conditioning camp the next pivotal step before Denton opens the season in the fall.
Satterfield, a senior, and junior Cy Ward are battling for the starting quarterback position. Atkinson said nothing will be decided in the near future, with most of the positions solidified as the first game of the season approaches.
The offense will be a spread formation with one running back in the backfield, while the defense will run the 3-4, Atkinson said.
Junior nose guard Dylan Tekell shined in Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage. Senior linebacker Michael Hudspeth had two interceptions, while safety Dantrell Forte returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Broncos are returning three starters on offense and two on defense. While the number of total players is half of what Atkinson had at Keller, the new head coach said the athletic talent at Denton far surpasses his previous job.
Now, it’s just a matter of getting kids to work into his system and “Make It Happen,” the team’s slogan for next season.
“Everybody’s been real receptive and understanding and buying into our program and what we want to get done,” Atkinson said with his feet propped up on his desk. “You have to get kids to be able to buy into doing things differently from what they have before. People kind of get set in their ways and think this is how it’s supposed to be. “
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