The climactic and crushing end of the 2011 football season still replays vividly in the minds of many Douglass Trojans.
Images of Woodward's Garrett Roach running free down the field, returning a fumble 99 yards in the final seconds for the game-winning touchdown to knock the Trojans out of the playoffs haven't disappeared. But over the course of the offseason, the pain of that moment turned to motivation.
“We should've never lost that game,” senior Terry Harris said. “There were some mental issues last year, but we're gonna make it right this year. We want to show everybody that what happened last year was a fluke and won't happen no more.”
On Tuesday, Douglass opened the door on a new season, with a new focus, more maturity, stronger leadership — and one really good addition.
Tuesday was the Trojans' first practice with the state's top college prospect in the 2013 class, defensive end D.J. Ward, formerly of Lawton.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Oklahoma commit moved to Oklahoma City in late July after his father got a job at Douglass leading the school's Junior ROTC program — a position that was hired by military officials, not the school system. Ward enrolled a few days before school started Aug. 1.
Ward will bookend a defensive line that already had one of the top players in the state's junior class, 6-foot-3, 230-pound Deondre Clark, who has at least a dozen college scholarship offers from programs like OU, OSU, LSU and Missouri.
“Now I can get rest at night, because I know we've got somebody to pick it up on the other side of the defense,” Clark said with a smile. “It's gonna be fun this year.”
Ward admittedly was frustrated that he had to leave his lifelong home of Lawton just as he reached his senior year, but he's also excited about the possibilities at Douglass, once he gets settled in.
“It's been hectic getting up here and trying to learn the plays and all that. We're still trying to get situated with the move,” Ward said. “We can do big things with this team. I think a state run is something we can be looking at.”