With fall practice for Denton beginning Monday and a scrimmage against Frisco Wakeland scheduled for a week before their Aug. 31 season opener against Dallas Bishop Lynch, coming together as a team is the first thing on the Broncos’ plate.
Head coach Kevin Atkinson and his staff have several strategic and personnel decisions to make before the season, but Atkinson and the Broncos are taking careful steps with their development.
“It’s a process,” Atkinson said. “It’s spring football, summer conditioning and fall camp. There are certain guidelines you need to follow. You can’t just walk out there and win. You have to go through the process. We are probably going to end up surprising some people.”
With this being Atkinson’s first opportunity to imprint his personality onto his new team, he stresses becoming a collective group of individuals that plays together.
“We need to go from ‘me’ to ‘we,’ Atkinson said. “We need to be more team-conscious with what we are doing. My definition for success is to sit down in the locker room and be able to look at your teammate on your left and on your right and know without a doubt that I did everything in my power to help those guys be successful. If we have a team like that, then we are going to be somebody to be reckoned with.”
Being a part of a successful team, Atkinson says, requires each individual to take responsibility for their own actions.
“The most important quality you can have on a team is love,” Atkinson said. “If you have love, then you are going to have discipline because you don’t want to disappoint each other and you are going to do what it takes to make things happen. That’s our goal.”
With plenty of work ahead of them, the Broncos remain young in body and in mind.
“We’ve really got new everything,” Atkinson said. “We’ve got a few running backs and a few receivers. We are young and inexperienced. Not only are we inexperienced in football, but we are inexperienced in thinking the right way. When you get beat, it’s human nature to reflect on yourself and justify your losing. We need to change that mind-set.”
The team has made progress, according to Atkinson, and he expects that upcoming practices will reveal a true team identity.
“They are kind of coming together,” Atkinson said. “The team leaders really emerge during fall camp. They start separating themselves a little bit. There are some kids that are tentative, probably. They have been promised a lot of things and been through some disappointing times, so it’s hard for them just to latch on to a guy they don’t know.”
While building a rapport with his new team and providing the players with leadership and a new direction, Atkinson pledged to his elder players that if they work hard and stay the course that the success will yield a lasting life experience.
“I told these seniors that are here, ‘You guys have been waiting your whole life to be seniors and I’m not going to make it disappointing,’” Atkinson said. “‘I’m going to make it the best year of your life if you follow the recipe.’ If it calls for sugar, we need sugar. We don’t need to pour salt in there. That’s the key.”
Atkinson said he expects the upcoming weeks to produce crucial motivation for the team that should help the players push each other to be competitive.
“We’ve honestly got competition at every key position, which is going to end up making us better,” Atkinson said. “That’s what happens when you’re getting pushed, and when you don’t have competition you become a little bit stale. We want to win the day and be competitive with everything that we do. They have taken ahold of that a little bit, and I’m excited to see how it plays out.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .