Northern Lakes League rival, Anthony Wayne finally managed to score against Southview in Week 4 but the Cougar defense still came up big in a 33-21 victory. In three games the Cougars defense had shut down the opposition completely, while their teammates on offense had piled up 83 points en route to a perfect 3-0 record. Friday’s victory keeps the Cougars’ team record in tact but the defense must now attempt to start a new scoreless streak.
The fact that the Cougars managed to remain perfect through three games is remarkable but what may be more impressive is the fact that this defense can be so effective with 11 young men who are anything but huge physical specimens. Usually when one thinks of defensive linemen or linebackers an image of a large, muscular 6-foot plus, 200 pound athlete is generated. After all, defensive play is rugged. It requires a huge, hulking body or does it?
The Southview defense is anything but typical. Even a cursory glance at the team as it takes the field reveals immediately that it is a diminutive unit that would seemingly have difficulty stopping a good junior high team but looks can be deceiving. So far this group of undersized athletes has successfully stopped everyone.
What the Cougars lack in size they make for in speed, agility and confidence.
Southview senior linebacker, Sean Cardone, speaks for the team when he states: “We have great leadership in our linebackers and throughout our whole team. Our D-line is awesome, our linebackers are great, and our defensive backs are amazing.”
When asked about the size differential that they must face week after week, senior lineman Adam Calandra said: “Yea, it’s kind of rough sometimes, but we just play. Our whole defensive line plays with a lot of heart and we just get the job done. No matter how big they are. We don’t care about size at all.”
Prior to Friday’s contest with Anthony Wayne the Cougars had been playing non-league competition and holding those three opponents scoreless was a wonderful achievement. But Friday the real season began with NLL play. For the Cougar defense, however, the script remains the same.
Although careful to take it one game at a time, the Cougars are determined, as pointed out by senior linebacker Griff Whalen, to keep it going “for as long as we can.”
Holding opponents scoreless for an entire season was obviously an unrealistic expectation but the Cougars felt that they could do it. Now that that streak has ended the Cougars determined to start a new one and confidently believe that they have a realistic chance to hold the remainder of their schedule scoreless. Such a task is formidable but, seeing the confidence in the eyes of these young men is contagious and listening to them makes you hope they can do it.
With six weeks remaining in the regular season watching how the Cougar defense performs will be interesting. Odds are that they will surrender their share of points but the odds are equally as strong that such points will not come easily for opposing teams.
These diminutive young men are tough, both mentally and physically, and are living proof that playing defense is not only for big and brawny. The small and agile can do it as well.