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Duncan to emphasize defense at Tilghman

By Mike Stunson mstunson@paducahsun.com

In coaching Murray to 63 wins over a six-year period from 2008-2013, Steve Duncan became known for his wishbone-style offense. It led to plenty of successes on the offensive side of the ball, but that was never the forte for Duncan's teams.

Duncan's teams were built on defense -- shown from the 13.5 points the Tigers allowed per game during those six years. Murray became a contender for state championships because of its defense, and that's where it will start at Paducah Tilghman.

After being formally announced as Tilghman's head football coach on Friday, Duncan said he takes a lot of pride on both sides of the ball but that championships will be won with defense.

"I want to look at what we've got, but we'll start with defense. If they don't score any points, they won't win," he said. "The defense and offense need to work together, as far as time of possession."

Duncan's teams -- Tilghman being his seventh -- have shown they can win in a variety of ways. While at Murray, it was all about defense. But when he was an assistant at Lone Oak for two years, the Purple Flash broke the national record for touchdown passes in a season.

He did say he likes to have one of the more athletic players on the team as the quarterback, as the ball would be in his hands for every offensive play. Besides that, it's all about the linemen, who he said will be his 'buddies.'

For the first time on Friday, Duncan had the opportunity to meet with his new team. He said he's excited to be a part of the rich tradition of athletic and academics at Tilghman.

He's putting everything from past years in the past, and is looking to rebuild Tilghman into the state contender it is so used to being.

"I'm going to work hard, and I know you have to win, too. I want to make a difference with the players," he said. "I want them to be winners in everything they do -- in the school, in the classroom, at home, (as) brothers, sons â ¦ be a winner. That's our goal. Does it always happen? No, but that's what we're going to work at."

When the Tilghman players return from spring break, emphasis will immediately be placed on weightlifting and building strength.

Duncan also realizes the importance of a strong relationship with the feeder programs at the elementary and middle school levels.

"If I'm going to be here awhile, they're my players, and I'd like to be here awhile," he said. "Some of those first graders I may be coaching. I want to encourage them and make sure everything is going OK, make sure our numbers are right and we're doing things correctly in our little league program and middle school."

He was out of coaching last year, but Duncan said the opportunity to coach Tilghman is what God wanted him to do.

Duncan inherits a team that was 6-6 last year, and he said 56 players will be back for the 2017 season. But more than the wins he envisions at Tilghman, it's about fostering the relationships and helping make a positive influence on lives.

"I know one thing. It'll change me and make a difference in me," he said. "There might be just one person out there, just one, that He wants me to make sure I talk to and make a difference in them and encourage them."

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