Football: FLHS' Duff has some answers after UNC camp

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By Steve Smith

Fort Lupton football coach Dustin Duff took his sophomore- and junior-laden squad to a team camp at the University of Northern Colorado and, by in large, came away pleased.

“The main core of our team is sophomores and juniors,” he said. “A lot of our new juniors who came to camp didn’t play last year. One good thing that came out of camp was we are able to answer some questions about those younger players and whether they could play at the varsity level.”

Duff and his staff also learned something else, particularly after a rough opening day at camp.

“We started to do that spiral thing with our confidence,” he said. “I told them I was embarrassed, that they had to be mentally tough to play this game. We grind. We don’t want anything given to us.”

Apparently, it worked on the second day.

“A bunch of our sophomores took leadership roles and told the rest, ‘You’d better pony up,’” Duff said. “We knew we were going to have growing pains with a new offense, the wing-T. Every coach uses different terminology, and it means the same thing, even if you’ve done it in different ways. The kids were able to pick it up. On the last day, we were calling plays, and they were running them without us showing them the book.

“I challenged them, and they came out and responded,” he continued. “The second night, we were able to score a touchdown against a good group, and we were playing sophomores and juniors against juniors and seniors.”

Duff and his staff were able to try some new things “I thought we’d never be able to do.” Specifically, the FLHS players ran split-field coverages.

“We had kids who were changing positions. It just fits our personnel better,” Duff said. “We put kids in positions who were true football players. That was a positive.”

And then there was the case of player Isaiah Cardenas and his effort during a lineman-only drill.

“He battled this kid for 10 seconds. Then he picked the kid up and threw him down,” Duff said. “Every single lineman saw it. I had to buy him a pizza because he got a pancake block. The change is seeing kids who would have quit in a situation like that. He stuck with it and decided to finish it. That’s a mentality thing.”