Things are new almost completely across the board for the Durant Lions football team as they head into the season under the direction of new head coach Todd Vargas.
The Lions will look for a resurgence as they incorporate a new flexbone offensive attack that is unique in the world of high school football today.
"It’s definitely an anomaly because there’s not many schools in Oklahoma that do this," Vargas said of his offensive style. "Opponents have to game plan specifically for us and not use something they have done against several other teams. They have to be responsible and play the quarterback, the pitch, the dive. We are not going to be 100 percent option, but we’ll still have our toss and our sweeps along with our mid-doubles and mid-triples. It’s really a ‘we-before-me’ offense and very unselfish. It sets your team up to be a very unselfish team. We will attack what we feel are the weaknesses in the defense.
"The thing I love about this offense is that it fits any personnel that you have, whether you are really talented with a lot of size and speed or if you are not. You don’t have to be huge and massive up front, just have good technique."
Senior Chance Dotson is expected to take over the reins as quarterback for the Lions after moving in from Blue Ridge, Texas, a year ago. Fellow senior Matt Wagner is another solid athlete who has potential to contribute in the signal-calling spot.
Francisco Avila returns to lead the way in the backfield after rushing for a team-high 637 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore when he averaged 4.2 yards per carry.
The Lions will look to seniors Noah McCarson and Brenham Skean as well as junior Cody Chapman to fill the slotback positions.
McCarson should be a catalyst following last season in which he tallied 112 yards on the ground and also snagged 34 passes for 450 yards and three scores while notching a team-leading 13.2 yards per catch.
"Our offense will be run-based but we’ll also incorporate the play action pass," stated Vargas. "Francisco (Avila) is the most run-oriented back we have, but a lot of guys will contribute. Our slot guys have to be able to run some, but definitely must be able to block and catch."
Durant has some experience up front with Riley Powell and Brian Martinez at tackle, along with Dylan Bromagen at guard. They will look to a handful of newcomers to fill the other line positions.
Defensively look for some new sets from the Lions as well, with multiple fronts that will attempt to steadily put pressure on opposing offenses and force turnovers.
"We’ve got to do everything we can to try and get the ball back in the hands of our ball control offense," Vargas said. "If we can control the ball like we want, we should be able to put pressure on the other offense.
"We obviously want to put the best kids we can out there defensively, but we also need to get fresh kids in and not have everybody having to go both ways if we can help from it."
Veterans in the secondary will spur the defense with two-way starters in McCarson, Skean and Chapman. Alex Jamison and Jeff Corzine are also back at linebacker.
Up front, look for seniors Adan Beniavides and Jesus Galvez be the stalwarts.
"It’s important to get off to a good start, but our kids know this is a process," the DHS head coach added. "Our season doesn’t hinge on the first three contests, because it’s the district games that matter. That won’t be easy by any means with Bishop Kelley the favorite along with Coweta. Shawnee drops from Class 6A and McAlester and Tulsa Edison also have good units returning."