The Denton Broncos got their first win under new head coach Kevin Atkinson last week with a 35-6 drubbing of Carrollton R.L. Turner, and Atkinson says he is working with a blank slate after last year’s 1-9 DHS campaign.
“Every team and every season you have is like a life,” Atkinson said. “We are in a very infant stage right now. They are making mistakes and they need us [coaches] more. So we are trying to coddle them and get them going in the right direction. They’ve been receptive and they’ve been very obedient and compliant.”
Atkinson says his team is working toward the future.
“It wouldn’t matter if we started 22 seniors,” Atkinson said. “They are still going to be young because they don’t have the foundation that I would like them to have for my philosophy. We won’t be going through the same things we are going through [now] this time next year.”
Denton (1-1) will complete its nondistrict schedule at 7 tonight when it faces Fort Worth Western Hills (1-1) at Bronco Field, with the Cougars looking to rebound from a 54-27 loss to Fort Worth Brewer.
Similar to their first two tests, the Broncos will see another ground-heavy attack. After cutting their rushing yards allowed from 278 against Dallas Bishop Lynch to 129 against Turner, the Broncos will look to hold Western Hills running back Aaron Stevenson in check. Stevenson recorded nine touchdowns and 1,220 yards on 183 carries last season.
Offensively, new leaders are emerging as the Broncos grasp their revamped spread offense.
Junior quarterback Cy Ward took his first steps as a starter in the Broncos’ 30-14 loss to Bishop Lynch to start the season, but he continued to study the offense as he dusted himself off to lead his team with five touchdowns against Turner while nearly doubling his passing yards from the previous week.
After throwing two interceptions in the opener, Ward threw only one against Turner.
“With him it doesn’t come down to athleticism, because he is very athletic,” Atkinson said. “It just comes down to experience and knowing where to go with the football and knowing when to take a chance and when not to take a chance. It’s too bad that he spent most of his sophomore year holding a clipboard and he didn’t really get a chance to get some game reps.”
Atkinson expects his team to continue to make mistakes as the players mature, but he also recognizes what to do with growth when he sees it.
“They kind of start off being very needy and you have to give them attention,” Atkinson said. “Then they kind of mature a little bit and they think they’re grown, so they make even dumber mistakes. Then you have to reel them in again.”
Despite rolling to their first win of the season, the Broncos still struggled with penalties and surrendered a blocked punt for the second straight game.
“Last week we had a lot of mental errors when it came to foolish penalties and special teams hiccups,” Atkinson said. “We’ve spoken to our kids to how important the field position game is and how it’s really set by special teams. We’ve devoted a little more time, and I think we’ve gotten our kids’ attention on how important it is. I just expect us to be better at it. We are maturing as a team and that is part of the process.”
With preseason favorite Guyer falling in its first two games of the season, parody might become the theme this season in District 5-4A, and Atkinson says his team is positioned to be a player in the potential power shift.
“I’ve never counted us out,” Atkinson said. “Obviously, we were picked last in our district. So does that put a chip on our shoulder? Yeah it does. So we are not going to be last. We want to fight for a playoff spot. I’m excited for district to start and I’m excited to see the coaching styles and what the programs are like that I haven’t played. I think we will be able to play with anyone in our district.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .