High school football: Coach Shannon Watford brings new personality to Purcell

When former Hennessey coach Shannon Watford took over at Purcell, his players could sense the difference immediately.
by Ryan Aber Published: August 7, 2012

— Erik Gonzalez and Nathan Schmidt could tell the difference immediately.

When Shannon Watford took over at Purcell this season after winning two consecutive titles at Hennessey, Watford brought the Dragons a different personality.

“It's completely, entirely different,” Gonzalez said. “The terminology is different but it's also more strict.”

It took some getting used to for the Dragons, who went 9-2 last season but ended the season with a disappointing first-round loss.

“It wasn't easy,” Gonzalez said. “But everybody's ready for the change now.”

Tuesday, Gonzalez and Schmidt were among the approximately 70 players who went through their opening practice.

Even on Day 1, Watford was demanding, switching players when he felt the effort wasn't there and sending players off to the side for corrective conditioning for certain mistakes.

“We really want to practice with intensity even on the first day,” Watford said. “You want them to learn how to focus when you're tired. It's about acquiring mental toughness.”

When Watford started at Hennessey, the Eagles were a struggling program just scraping to get wins.

Purcell is in much better shape.

“This is a team that wants more than just the playoffs,” Watford said. “This team has won before. We're just going to win a different way now. Sometimes that'll come easy and sometimes it's a little harder.”

Watford said his recent success has helped players buy in quicker.

by Ryan Aber
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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