The early-morning practices, sweat-drenched socks, countless hours studying film and hoarse voices have boiled down to Denton’s season opener at Dallas Bishop Lynch, and right out of the gate, the Broncos will be tested in all facets of the game.
Last week’s scrimmage against Frisco Wakeland saw the Broncos search for their fundamentals while preparing for what coach Kevin Atkinson calls one of the two biggest games of the season.
“This is a big ballgame,” Atkinson said. “I think the two biggest ballgames on your schedule at the beginning of the season are that first ballgame and that first district ballgame.”
This time last year, the Broncos were implementing a new coaching staff, offense and overall culture that the team wrestled with the entire season, and this year Atkinson says he can see a difference.
“They are definitely grasping on to what we are asking them to do,” Atkinson said. “We are way further ahead than we were then. I’m really excited about how we are lining up and looking defensively, and I like what we’re doing offensively.”
What Atkinson continues to preach to his team is getting better from game to game.
“That’s why we play three nonconference games, because each one of those you should learn a little bit about yourself — what you can do, what you can’t do, what you need to do more of and what you need to pull back. I eagerly await to see how we are.”
Halfway through the season, the Broncos were 3-3 and on the upswing with a chance at the playoffs. The Broncos fell to Bishop Lynch 30-14 to open the season before winning their next two nondistrict contests.
Atkinson and his coaching staff have a recipe in place to motivate their players and keep the team improving.
“Every week, the intensity of the coaching staff will pick up a little bit, and hopefully the players will feed off that,” Atkinson said. “We need to figure out if there are other ways to teach it so they can get better. Every week you make little adjustments.”
Atkinson said tonight’s game will be a great lesson on preparing for the unexpected and concentrating on all phases of the game.
“They’ve [Bishop Lynch] got a brand-new coach that got named late last spring, so we really don’t know what they are going to do,” Atkinson said. “They had a scrimmage and we swapped video, but you really don’t know what to expect special teams-wise. That’s such a huge part of the game, and everybody goes into the first game of the year really untested.”
Last week’s scrimmage saw the Broncos’ offense turn the ball over several times while the defense attempted to nail down its alignments.
“We need to understand it takes 11 guys taking care of their assignments and when one guy isn’t doing that, it’s going to hurt our team,” Atkinson said. “We need to focus on doing your job. That’s kind of going to be our theme [today]. Let’s do our job and play as one.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.