BRAY, Okla (KSWO) - Matt Garner knows all about reclamation projects. Just last year, he led Duke to its first playoff appearance in school history. Now he's hoping to work similar magic at Bray-Doyle.
"They had a good, young junior high team here last year and I think the future here looks kind of bright. So you know that kind of intrigued me," Garner said.
Turning around the program won't be easy. The Donkeys have only won four games in the last five years. But that dry spell has left the current group of players hungry to work.
"You know at other places sometimes you've got to fight kiddos on whether they get in the weight room or not. Here, they like the weight room. They like the weights. They didn't like the running so much, but they got accustomed to it and they worked hard," Garner said.
"He's making us work for it. In years past we didn't have to work necessarily as hard as we do this year. We're working hard and getting better," said sophomore linebacker Dalton Whitehead. "We're getting more athletic. We're not as slow as we used to be and we're more in shape. We don't have to worry about getting to the 4th quarter and falling out as much as we did last year."
Garner has brought a new level of energy and intensity to Bray-Doyle. His next objective is to mold the Donkeys in to a more physical ball club.
"We want to be physical. We're going to try to run the ball first and try to establish that and then we'll do what we have to do after that," Garner said. "You know we've got a little size, a little strength. We got kids in the weight room hooked up so we're thinking we might be pretty physical. We're going to try to be anyways."
Seeing is believing. Bray-Doyle nearly picked up its first win of 2016 in Week 0, but dropped a 28-20 ballgame at Mountain View-Gotebo. Garner feels it's imperative for the Donkeys to find some success early.
"It's very crucial. I think it boosts confidence. They'll buy in even more. Even though they're working hard, they'll work even harder. They'll learn better," Garner said. "Then they'll have the confidence of when they step off the bus, they'll have a shot to win as opposed to thinking, we'll we don't know or we don't know if we can win or not. It's just a mindset thing. Trying to get it done and knowing you can get it done are two different things."
The Donkeys will be back in action Friday when they head to Cement.