SHS defense; fast, physical

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2013

Straughn defenders Johnny Owens (26) and Steven Twitty (7) converge an Bayside Academy's Landon Lasseter last week. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn defenders Johnny Owens (26) and Steven Twitty (7) converge an Bayside Academy’s Landon Lasseter last week. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Playing quick and physical have been the two big keys for Straughn’s defensive success this season, Tigers defensive coordinator John Fussell said.

The Tigers have allowed an average of 14 points per game. Their defense helped the team win six straight during the regular season and gain a playoff berth, along with holding their postseason opponents to an average of 13 points in the last three weeks.

Fussell said it starts with the guys up front.

“We’re real small with the exception of Jeffery Fraze, our nose (guard),” he said. “We’re not real big, but we play fast and most of the time they play low and they got a lot of fight about them.”

Behind the quick line, Straughn’s linebackers have risen to the challenge of stopping the run, Fussell said.

“They usually run down hill and they’re very physical, and usually do a good job of reading their keys,” he said.

The secondary is where Fussell said he thinks the team has progressed the most.

Against Bayside Academy, the Tigers showed that they can defend the pass real well, the coach said.

“We did a really godo job of covering No. 19 (Gregory Wallace), and did a really good job of coming up on jet and making good plays on that,” he said. “They still know their first responsibility is pass, but they have done a good job when it’s been run coming up. They fit extremely well. If they’re supposed to fit outside, then they’re going to fit outside.”

During the first round of the playoffs, the Tigers’ defense suffered a big blow when it lost senior linebacker Nick Stepp to injury.

Fussell said the kids hated it for their teammate more so than anything else.

“I know that they all realized that we were losing a good player, but at the same time they had confidence that we’ve got a couple of guys who can fill that role,” he said. “They just hated it for them in the worst kind of way, which says a lot about their chardcter and being a family, and caring more about a person than they do themselves.”

Going into tonight’s game, Fussell said the defense is playing with a lot of confidence.

“They’re physical,” he said. “They’re probably, to me, they fly around to the football better than any defense that I’ve had since I’ve been here. We’ve had some good defenses, but they really seem to fly around to the ball.”