The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


October 5, 2012

Plainsmen looking for peace, points this week against Union

ENID, Okla. — Enid head football coach Steve Chard sees his role, and that of his players, as more than being defined by wins and losses.

 The Plainsmen’s first-year head coach this week used the words of the “Wizard of Westwood,” John Wooden, the former UCLA head basketball coach who took UCLA to a record 10 national titles, to deliver that message.

“I asked them how many knew who John Wooden was and you know how many raised their hands,” Chard asked before holding up two fingers. “So I explained about his pyramid of success.” Chard then also explained many coaches today still use Wooden’s philosophy with great success.

“I put on the board his quote “Peace of mind comes from knowing that you did everything in your power to have success and peace of mind is knowing you did the best you could.’

“I presented it as a challenge to them to ask themselves ‘are you doing that? Are you doing everything you can possibly do in that schoolhouse, over here, over with your parents, your sister, your brother ... are you doing everything to the best of your ability?’”

That’s Chard’s challenge to the team, to do everything to the best of its ability — “I can’t ask for more than that” —  as it heads into this week’s tough district 6A-1 matchup at Tulsa Union.

An 0-2 district start and a three-game losing streak heading into a road game at perennial power and 4-time defending 6A champion Union (3-2, 1-1) is not the ideal spot for Enid at this point of the season, but Chard sees plenty of positives for the Plainsmen (2-3, 0-2) and the way the team continues to develop after reaching the halfway point of the season following a 24-7 homecoming loss to Tulsa Washington last week.

“It’s gone about like I figured,” Chard said when asked about his impressions at the halfway point. “I would prefer to be 3-2 instead of 2-3 because we felt we kind of gave one away against Bartlesville (a 44-42 loss on Sept. 21).

The night we played Booker T. (Washington) they were better than us. I don’t have a problem with our effort.

“If you are in the locker room when the game is over, you don’t have to look hard to know they are laying it on the line. There’s kids that can’t walk on Saturday morning.”

But Chard sees room for improvement, especially in the team’s fourth quarter play

“You’ve got to execute,” Chard emphasized. “I still think we have to execute better at crucial times and that’s about maturity and growth as a player. The hardest thing to do that is in the fourth quarter when you need a stop. It’s easy to do in practice.”

Chard believes that will come as the team continues its growth and with the aid of meaningful practices.

“It’s hard to simulate a game situation, we do a lot of that in practice,” he said. He also is realistic to know players, even at the highest level, will make mistakes, such as lining up incorrectly on defense and need to avoid alignment busts, things Chard said the team has gone over many times.

“The Dallas Cowboys did that a few times (Monday night against Chicago). It happens at the highest level. It doesn’t excuse it. We want to put our best foot forward. We don’t want to run just one basic defense and coverage. We’ve got to be able to understand checks. If we are running a stunt, you’ve got to be able to do it. Sometimes it’s hard and we’re asking a lot.”

It’s a bit of a tightrope with a limited roster.

“We have a narrow window,” Chard said. “We can’t afford many mistakes and you have to play perfect.”

And that’s another challenge Chard has given his players: To try to achieve perfection.

“I said to them ‘how many of you guys ever think about that? Do you strive for perfection?’ I think in a lot of areas of their lives today, kids are allowed to be pretty average and we won’t accept that here. That’s the neat thing about football. We can get them in here and demand a little more and hopefully that will help them out when they are grown men.”

While Chard has been impressed by several players this season who are stepping up to that challenge, senior quarterback Chance Pryor continues to stand out, making quarterback an area of strength for the Plainsmen.

“That’s the least of my worries,” Chard said regarding the quarterback position as he continues to also be impressed with Pryor’s toughness.

“He stood in there (against Washington) and threw for yardage (153 yards), which was more impressive because we couldn’t run the ball and still had some success throwing it in some small windows against some really good athletic back end guys,” Chard said. “He stood in there.”

The Plainsmen only had 24 yards net rushing against the Hornets.

“That touchdown (a 22-yard pass to Aaron Beagle for Enid’s only score in the fourth quarter against Washington) was about as good a throw as you will see,” Chard said.

Looking ahead to tonight’s game at Union, against a team the Plainsmen have not defeated since a 13-0 win in 1991, Chard is realistic to know it may take perfection and then some against the Redskins.

Union is coming off of a 58-24 district win over Stillwater in which they recorded nearly 700 yards in offense led by senior quarterback Hunter Atiya, who has tossed 9 touchdowns while throwing only three interceptions this season. Atiya has several talented receivers, including Tulsa-commit senior tight end Khalid Kornegay and team-leading receiver, junior Jeffrey Mead (17 catches, 334 yards, three touchdowns). The backfield is led by sophomore Terrel Buchanan and junior Justin Silmon who each have four touchdowns and have combined for 585 of the team’s 800 rushing yards this season.

But it’s also on defense that the Redskins have an advantage, thanks in part to the sheer numbers the 4,000-plus student school is able to field with a football roster that is 136 players deep.

“The kids (at Union) that play defense never practice anything but defense,” Chard said, noting many of Enid’s players have to play both offense and defense. “We were out here (Tuesday) for about three hours and had to split it (between offense and defense).”

Chard acknowledges Friday’s game is a “tall order.”

“We know what’s coming up,” he said. “We know we are playing a really good team, but we look at it as an opportunity, not a roadblock. We need some help this week, we need them (Union) to put it (the ball) on the ground, but let’s see if we can get in the 4th quarter and make them sweat from there.”

NOTES: Senior Steven Hocker’s playing status remained undetermined at midweek. Sophomore Austin Duplantis would get the nod at starting tight end as he did last week if Hocker remains out, while Rob Frantz would fill Hocker’s spot at defensive end ... Junior Bates Enmeier is expected to get the start tonight at offensive guard to spell starting linebacker Jake Scott ... Junior Sam Clemens will start at strong safety in place of Raheem Mitchell, who will focus on his position at tailback.

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