Dukes aim to finish games well

Published 2:17 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

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A young 2023 Windsor High School varsity football team is being led by a new head coach who is taking a clearly defined approach with the Dukes.

“We live on the phrase ‘C.A.R.E,’ and C.A.R.E. for us means commitment, accountability, resiliency and effort,” Windsor Head Coach Benjamin DuBois said. “And the kids are starting to buy into it. It’s an ever-going process, but they are really buying into it, and we’re taking it one week at a time. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

DuBois served as offensive coordinator last season for the Dukes, helping grow their offense, which scored 115 points across eight games after generating significantly less than that the year prior.

“I think the biggest thing that I noticed last year when I coached was we just didn’t know how to finish, so that’s our focus this year — we have to finish,” he said.

DuBois is relatively new to head coaching at the high school level of football, but he brings substantive experience as an offensive coordinator.

His relationship with the game of football began as a player. He played in Suffolk for John F. Kennedy High School before getting into coaching, starting in Pop Warner and working his way up.

“In 2007, I started coaching high school football,” he said. 

He served as an offensive coordinator for Churchland High School on either side of a brief stint in the same role at Nansemond River High School.

He coached at Portsmouth Christian School, including an entire season as the Patriots’ interim head coach.

He was part of the coaching staff at Western Branch High School for several years, largely as offensive coordinator but also one year as defensive coordinator.

He also served on the staff at Lakeland High School before coming to Windsor.

In 2022, a small-in-number varsity Dukes squad went 0-10, including two forfeits, one due to injuries. But Windsor enjoyed some notable high-scoring performances. The Dukes fell to visiting Arcadia High School in the season opener, but the final score was 42-31. They lost to visiting Middlesex High School two weeks later, but again they showed they could be potent offensively with a 43-28 final score.

This season, “we’re trying to be fundamentally sound,” DuBois said, “so we’ve simplified the playbook for offense, defense and special teams, and we want to get really good at anything before we try to get exotic with anything.”

Windsor has lost about half a dozen players from its 2022 team due to graduation. 

DuBois noted that the 2023 roster of 27 to 30 players includes six seniors, two juniors and a host of sophomores and freshmen, but the youth does not necessarily translate to inexperience in this case.

“Some of our younger guys are probably some of our better guys,” DuBois said. “They got a lot of playing time last year by us having small numbers like we did.”

The coach said, “I think we can win some games this year, but like I said, we’re only taking it one game at a time.”

He will continue as the team’s offensive coordinator for now but is training the coach to whom he will likely delegate those duties in the future.

DuBois highlighted a few key players he will be counting on for leadership on the field this year.

Demond Smith, who received all-district second team recognition last season, returns for his senior year and will play on the offensive line and in a linebacker-type role on defense.

“I’m looking for him to have a really good year this year,” DuBois said.

Jeremy King, who played quarterback on the junior varsity team a couple years ago, will return to that position this season on varsity.

“He’s coming along real good,” DuBois said. “He’s a sophomore, but he’s really impressive running and throwing the football.”

One of the players King will be throwing to is his brother, senior wide receiver Jamari King, who was a contributor for the Dukes last year.

Jamari will help lead a receiving corps that lost two standouts to graduation — Isaiah Seaborne and Cameron Ferguson. Both of them are set to play college ball for The Apprentice School in Newport News.

Helping anchor the backfield for the Dukes this year will be sophomore running back Javion Collins.

DuBois noted that Windsor’s big rivalry game will be against Southampton High School to close out the regular season, but the games that will help him and fans learn a lot about the Dukes’ potential will come at and near the beginning of the year.

“The Arcadia game is going to be a great test for us. And then a couple weeks down the line, we have Middlesex, and that’s going to be another good one,” DuBois said in a Thursday, Aug. 24, interview. “Our first couple games are going to tell where we can go, and I just feel like if we can stay sound and we can stay healthy, we’ll be fine.”

Windsor opens the season at Arcadia on Friday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. and hosts King and Queen Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m.