The last time the Denton Broncos traveled to Memorial Stadium, they came away with their first win at Wichita Falls in several years, along with their first District 5-4A victory of the season, when they defeated the Coyotes 28-19 on Oct. 12.
The Broncos will have a much stiffer test tonight against Wichita Falls Rider, but Denton head coach Kevin Atkinson is hoping the scenery will produce the same result.
“I just like the way our focus was up there,” Atkinson said. “When you’re traveling that far, you want to get the timing worked out. We got our legs underneath us a little bit before we got taped and got started. We had good weather last time and should again. It gives our kids a good time to do some positive self-talk, get quiet and think about what their assignments are going to be.”
Denton’s defense stole the show during the first act in Wichita Falls, as Charles Boosa’s forced fumble and 55-yard return for a touchdown provided enough momentum to hold off the Coyotes.
Against the Raiders, Atkinson has his team preparing to see several offensive looks and is encouraged by his defense’s aptitude for learning.
“They’ve had some injuries, so you’ve got to prepare for a single-wing or a spread,” Atkinson said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get with them.
“We are trying to be simple with what we do along with aligning in the defense and lining up in the right gap. We spend a lot of time preparing them on those situations.”
The Broncos’ game last week, a 31-0 loss to Azle, saw the defense again rise to the occasion as the backbone of the team, but mismatches between tight end Nolan Harris and Denton cornerback Chris McGee proved to be the difference.
“Chris has been battling an ankle injury the last year, and I think that bothered him a little bit,” Atkinson said. “I’m excited because he’s going to be back, ready to go and he’s looking forward to getting back out there. Our defense is the strength of our team, but at the same time we started eight sophomores last game. We haven’t really scratched the surface of this offense yet.”
A costly dropped pass by a Denton receiver was picked off by Azle midway through the third quarter to essentially end the Broncos’ attempt at a comeback, but Atkinson said his wideouts are ready to erase that game’s memories.
“We hadn’t caught the ball really clean the past couple weeks,” Atkinson said. “We are just looking forward to getting a chance. We’ve always caught the ball pretty well, but we’ve had some drops last week and the week before. It lets them get out there and redeem themselves a little bit.”
The offense did take steps in the right direction as they committed fewer costly penalties. When the Broncos get off to a good start, they are able to play at a high level, and Atkinson hopes they their newfound discipline will let him open up the playbook.
“We want to execute offensively,” Atkinson said. “The bright spot last week was not having foolish penalties. This week we want to add executing offensively for four quarters and use our whole game plan instead of getting behind.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .