Rock Solid Defenses Have Been Easy (But Hard) To Find

Before we get started, let’s just tip our hats to the Lakeland Dreadnaught defense. Pitching three shutouts in three weeks (counting the Kickoff Classic) isn’t an easy feat. But then again, let’s tip our hats to the Bishop McLaughlin Hurricane defense for doing the same thing. In those two teams, there are some happy defensive coordinators, but there’s a lot of unhappy defensive coordinators currently in the Bay Area.

Land O'Lakes transfer LB Marc Herrera is a big reason why Bishop McLaughlin has pitched three shutouts in three weeks.
Land O’Lakes transfer LB Marc Herrera is a big reason why Bishop McLaughlin has pitched three shutouts in three weeks.

I said we’d talk about the Zephyrhills defense today, and here’s what I have to say. They racked up 5 sacks on the evening and Kameron Howard made a huge interception when the game was on the line in the 4th quarter. I get that, that was a great accomplishment for the defense. Here’s my issue. You can’t give the other team 410 total yards of offense, like they did with Sunlake in Week Two, and you can’t give up 43 points to Wiregrass Ranch and expect to win a District Championship.

Here’s a nice surprise: the Gaither defense. It’s been advertised all summer long that the linebacking corps of Matt Wood, Estefano Feliciano, and DeCalon Brooks was going to be the highlight of that defense, but there have been some other guys step up. They limited Steinbrenner to 10 points in Week One, and if it wasn’t for an overtime field goal, they could’ve stopped Bloomingdale. Kyle Castro already has three sacks this season (tied with Feliciano for the team lead) and Trenton Jackson has two interceptions so far. They’ve got Hillsborough this week, and those guys and more will need to step up if they want to grab another victory.

Sorry, I’m writing a book here. Let me just say this: Manatee stepped up. They let 76 points go through their fingers against an Alabama team, sure. I saw the final score. Alabama: 1, Florida: 1 (thanks to Plant for getting the Sunshine State that point). But here’s the thing. They only let Palmetto score three points last night. That’s a big way for Chad Choate’s defense to respond.

Speaking of Plant, let’s go into the what-ifs here. I’m still pretty upset that the Plant-Hillsborough game was cancelled, and here’s why: I wanted to see what the defenses were going to bring. Would Zach Carter have tore through the Plant offensive line? Would Thomas Allen been able to snuff out Duran Bell’s runs? Thanks a lot, Hurricane Hermine. I guess we’ll just have to wait until next year.

Lakewood was one of the lone teams to play Pinellas County football this week.
Lakewood was one of the lone teams to play Pinellas County football this week.

Let’s drive over to Pinellas. Largo and East Lake? Cancelled. Lakewood and St. Petersburg? That’ll have to do. It was a defensive battle, according to Jake Perper of the Tampa Bay Times, where only 26 total points were scored, and Bernard Jackson of Lakewood picked off Austyn Causey (which is something not a lot of people will get to say by the end of the year). This was a game that the Spartans won last year, 34-20, but the Green Devils were able to get the revenge they wanted.

Looking ahead to next week, we’ll get to see Sunlake and Wiregrass Ranch in our game of the week, in a game where both defenses will have to hold strong in order to get a win. Will the combination of Shamaur McDowell and Jordan Miner in the secondary be able to stop the trio of wide receivers in Cris Galdos, Ryan Clark, and Tyler Peretti? But at the same time, will the Seahawks defense be able to stop Daniel Biglow and Da Da McGee? It’s a Pasco County clash, and we’ll have lots more on that on Thursday.