Staying defensive

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The old saying ‘defense wins championships’ is one that the football players at Pike Liberal Arts have become quite fond of.

A big part of the Patriots ability to win the last two AAA State Championships came from its ability to defend the football.

However, as the new season approaches, a big portion of the players responsible for those dominate defenses are long gone due to graduation.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

With only five starters returning from the 2009 defense, there are several new faces looking to take the steps necessary to get the Patriots back to another championship game.

Regardless of the number of starters returning to the field, head coach Steven Kilcrease said he likes what he has seen.

“We are looking pretty good so far,” Kilcrease said.

“Even though we have just five starters coming back, we have a lot of guys who have experience, and that will play a big role.

“We are missing some good players, no doubt about it. But I like what we got for the season,” he added.

The past two seasons, the Patriots’ defensive only allowed an average of around 16 points in 2009 and eight points in 2008, and the returning quintet made up of Nick McLaughlin, Martin Meeks, Sam Carroll, Andrew Quincy and Dylan Richards will all be looking to make sure nothing changes this season.

Each of the players will be entering their senior year at the school, with the exception of McLaughlin, who will be a junior.

All of them can be found at different places on the field, each with their own responsibilities.

Carroll is an outside linebacker, Meeks is a defensive back, Quincy and Richards are a defensive linemen and McLaughlin will be a linebacker, after playing as a safety in 2009.

Even though they all might be spread around the field, they all have the same mentality – be physical.

“That’s really what it’s all about,” Meeks said. “We want to be as physical as possible every time we are on the field.”

The physical aspect of playing defense is one of the reasons why all four said they love stop the football, rather than holding the football.

“It’s better to be the one hitting people, rather than the one being hit,” McLaughlin said with a laugh.

Despite a large number of players from last year’s team may be gone, the players say they are not worried because of the new players filling in the holes.

“A lot of guys are going to step up for us this season,” McLaughlin said.

“We have a lot of really good players on this team that are going to do some good things for us.”

The four players did say there is one major difference between this defensive unit and the one before it – it’s quickness.

“We have a lot of speed this year,” Quincy said. “We are not as big as we were last year, but I think our speed is going to make up for the size.”

In the end, each player said they knew what was expected of them when they are on the field.

And in the end, they said they hope they finish where the last two Patriot teams finished – holding the championship trophy.

“We know we have to play smart and we know that we can be a good defense,” Quincy said. “We have to stop the run and fly to the ball.

“Defense wins championships,” he added.