Class 4A football: Douglass strong on defense with D.J. Ward, Deondre Clark
When Douglass junior Deondre Clark heard D.J. Ward was moving in from Lawton, he didn't know what to expect, but what he saw was nearly a mirror image of himself.
When Douglass junior Deondre Clark heard that the state's No. 1 recruit, D.J. Ward, was moving in from Lawton, he didn't know what to expect.
Ward, a defensive end just like Clark, was a year older and a year farther along in the recruiting process of an elite prospect. Clark had concerns.
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Slogan: Let Douglass be Douglass Again
It didn't work so well for John Kerry in 2004, with “Let America Be America Again,” but Clark and the Trojans would like to get back to being themselves after a sometimes challenging 2011 season. After a challenging start, the season came to a shocking end with a first-round playoff upset. Now, Douglass is ready to be Douglass again, pursuing the 4A gold ball.
Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins: “I know D.J. Ward is the top player in the state, but Clark isn't far behind him as a player. Clark is a handful. He's as good as anybody we'll face this year. He's close to 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and he runs like a deer.”
Douglass defensive ends coach Alonzo Mayes: “They're both mature young men who are learning the techniques of becoming great defensive ends. The great thing about D.J. being here, Deondre has a role model he can follow to learn the position and learn the particulars of being an elite recruit. They're both taking that leadership role and running with it. They're great leaders, great role models and great morale-builders for the rest of the team.”
“I never would have thought we'd have another player come in that's such a high-level talent,” Clark said. “But then he's very humble. You would never think that he's the type of player he is.”
When Ward arrived, he saw something very familiar in Clark.
“It was weird at first. It was like seeing a mirror image,” Ward said. “He's laid back just like I am. He plays just like me. It was like looking at yourself.”
So, instead of having one of the best defensive ends in the state, Douglass has two — arguably the best defensive line tandem in the state in years.
They both stand 6-foot-3. Ward weighs 245 pounds, and Clark is only about 10 pounds lighter. Coach Willis Alexander, who has examined them closely this preseason, sees only slight differences in their playing styles.
Ward is slightly more explosive off the line, while Clark has a little more power. But the differences are hardly visible.
And the two have become good friends already, especially during practices, where they help each other and push each other to get better.
“We're always side-by-side, and if there's something I don't know, he helps me out to keep me up to speed,” Ward said. “And with general D-end stuff, I try to help him, tell him tips I've learned here and there, tell him what to look for.”
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