At times in 2014, scoring against the Smith-Cotton defense was a difficult proposition. The Tigers held Clinton to six points, Center to seven (at a time when Center could have won a WCC title with a win), St. Pius and Pleasant Hill to 10.
This fall, a veteran S-C defense hopes to pick up where it left off for second-year coach Ryan Boyer.
“The defensive scheme that we stress is you have to be fast, you have to be athletic, and offensively or defensively, you have to be physical and get to the ball,” Boyer said. “This being the second year in, they take pride in that and they haven’t missed a beat. They want to have those shutouts.”
Boyer said his senior-led team takes the approach to not to let defense lose a game.
“Offensively, if we put 21-28 points up on the board, that should be enough to win a game we’re in. That’s a team effort on both sides.”
Austin Jaekel and LJ Marsh are back on the defensive line. Team leaders who put in plenty of time in the offseason to improve, Boyer will call upon them to play offense and defense and set a tone for the rest of the players on defense, whether they rack up stats or not.
“Those two up front really set the tone for everyone else,” Boyer said. “If you look to our D-line, it’s not about how many tackles you get or how many sacks you get. A lot of times it’s if you can get in a gap and create a double team, you’re freeing it up for your linebackers and safeties.”
Devon Hill will also play on the defensive line as will Izaiah Snyder, moving to the line after playing linebacker in 2014.
“He’s really done a good job of starting to pick it up,” Boyer said of Snyder.
At linebacker, the Tigers have Carlton Homan and Noah Azierre as a strong No. 1 and No. 2 at middle linebacker with Eli Kemp and Brice Pannier fighting for playing time as well.
A pair of seniors, Ricky Warren and Jake Kindle, return at outside linebacker.
“Both had great years last year and Ricky was able to break some school records and he was All-Conference for us,” Boyer said.
Malik Davis and Keoni Hale will get playing time at outside linebacker.
In the secondary, safeties Jake McFail and Logan Parham bring experience, intelligence and athleticism.
“Jake was an All-Conference guy for us, racked up over 100 tackles,” Boyer said. “Typically, if you see that from a safety, it kind of makes you nervous, however he’s a guy that rolls down a lot for us in different schemes so a lot of those tackles came at the line of scrimmage. … Logan Parham is the same way. I like those two back there. They’re undersized, but they’re scrappers.”
At the cornerback spot, Jayce Simoncic returns for his third year as a starter. Another senior, Blake Jackson, will start on the opposite side. Elijah Choate will see playing time as well.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles