Richards: ‘Football is football’ at every level

New Durant High School head football coach is spending time working on and off campus this summer with high school kids.

And although the start of the 2017-2018 school year and preseason football practices are still weeks away, there is still opportunity to sow into the lives of students, as it is in the nature of coaches to do.

In June, Richards is instructing students in the driver’s education program. And he also said he is excited about his new position overseeing the Lions’ football program.

“It’s an honor and a blessing to be the head coach at Durant,” Richards said. “One of the good things is that I’ve been there two years as an assistant, so I know the kids and I know the coaches and so it will be a lot easier transition than what it would have been.”

The former Southeastern head coach said there are differences in the approach to the game between the college and high school levels, but there are also some things that don’t change.

“In college, there are more X’s and O’s and more adjustments to be made,” Richards said. “The high school game is a little simpler in a sense, but the difference is that some kids have a football knowledge that is pretty good, and some don’t. So you have to adapt to what they know and what they don’t know.

“There is a lot of difference between high school and college. Defensively, things are simpler in high school and offensively, I think things get more complicated, I’ve noticed. But the bottom line is that football is football and blocking and tackling are the same at every level.”

Durant earned a 5-5 record last season, the program’s first season at .500 or above since 2008.

In order to get the most out of the program, Richards may need to do some recruiting. No, not recruiting from other schools, which is prohibited by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association. It is the kind of recruiting that encourages DHS athletes that may not have been a part of the football program before to give it a shot.

“Obviously they’ve got to want to play,” Richards said. “There are a lot of kids walking around the halls of Durant that could help us, but their hearts are not in it. And you don’t want a bunch of half-hearted players. But you do recruit and you do want to get all of them out there that you can. And that’s easier said then done.

“It’s a different recruiting than in college. In college, the kids you recruit, they all want to play. It’s hard enough to practice football when it’s 98 degrees outside and you want to be there, let alone getting a bunch of guys that don’t want to be there.

“But yes, you do recruit a little.”

Richards’ first campaign at the helm at DHS begins Sept. 1, as the Lions travel to Poteau.

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