Getting down and dirty

Published 7:48 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The defensive linemen on most football teams are never talked about unless they make a mistake, but the linebackers and defensive backs at Pike Liberal Arts School make sure that is not the case for the Patriots’ d-linemen.

Every one of the other defenders always talk about how the defensive line has played a key role in the Patriots 6-0 start and No. 3 ranking in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll.

“It feels good that they show us some respect by saying we help out on the play,” said junior Justin McLaughlin, a starter on the end of the line.

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Senior Philip Quincey, who makes up the other side of the bookend of starting defensive linemen for Pike, said having such great players behind him is a great feeling.

“It feels good that they talk about us and we are just trying to make them look good,” Quincey said.

That defense has looked good all season and the first-string defense has not allowed a 200-yard game for the opposing team all year. They held Shelby Academy to 47 total offensive yards last week.

But it all starts up front and sophomore Andrew Quincey said he has no problem opening the big plays up for the rest of the team.

“We have to do the dirty work and they have to clean everything up,” said Andrew Quincey, who subs in to keep the starters fresh.

Philip Quincey said the key to the Patriots’ success is simple.

“We just keep the linemen off the linebackers and watch them make plays,” he said.

But without many hours of preparation and sweat in the film room and weight room, the Patriots line would not be as dominant as they are right now.

“They are all strong as an ox and they work hard in the weight room and the film room,” PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “They know their main job is to keep the offensive linemen away from the linebackers and that is why (linebackers) Corey (Goodson) and Will (Starling) are leading the way in tackles for us.”

What makes the group special is their work ethic and their selflessness.

“It takes a special person to say ‘My job is not to make the tackle, but to keep the line off the linebackers,’” Kilcrease said. “And these guys still make the plays while doing their job.”

Sophomore Jackson Nelson completes the starting lineup and he plugs up the middle at nose guard for the Patriots.

“In that first group, Jackson clogs up the middle and when he stays low, he is hard to handle,” Kilcrease said. “On the outside Justin and Philip do a good job on technique and they do a good job of squeezing the play into the middle of the field.”

Starling, who sometimes lines up on the line to give the Patriots a four-man look, knows that without proper technique all would be lost.

“When we prepare for a game we always make sure we work on our technique and watch the film to find out what we can do better next week,” Starling said.

McLaughlin has a firm grasp on why the Patriots are having a dream season in 2008.

“If we are good on defense that is a great feeling because defense wins championships and that is what we are trying to do,” he said.

Sophomore Dylan Richards said it is a great feeling to be a part of such a great team, but also such a great group of individuals.

“I like playing for Pike because the atmosphere around here is so great,” Richards said.

Defensive backs coach Kevin Adams always makes the trip back to the sideline after a three-and-out a great experience for Nelson.

“Coach Adams is pretty crazy and he is always slapping me on the back when we come off the field,” Nelson said. “But it feels great because I know he is so happy for us.”

It may start up front, but the Patriots will look to remain perfect this season Friday night with a big region game against Lee-Scott. Needless to say, the Patriot defensive linemen will do their best to keep the Warrior offensive linemen off the linebackers so they can make the play.