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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Preparation key to SHS defense

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sikeston's defensive players Darryl Howard (25), Treston Pulley (64), Michael Perkins (71), Ray Clark (22) and Ben Burton (54) celebrate a fumble recovery by Corey Porter (76) in a regular season game against Cape Central. The Sikeston defense has allowed only 8 points in three playoff games. David Jenkins, Staff
SIKESTON -- Knowing what an offense is going to do before the snap can never truly be predicted. But the Sikeston Bulldogs defense does nearly the closest thing to it.

Just as quarterback Trey Lewis reads an opposing defense, the Bulldog's defense does the same against an offense. Their ability to spot certain habits within an opposing offense makes it look as if they actually do know what play is coming next.

"We try to get keys and tips," defensive coordinator Andy McGill said. "Offenses are always going to give you tips and keys of what they're favorite plays are. They're going to try and put their best players in the best positions and we're going to try and put our best players there to stop them."

Studying tendencies have paid huge dividends for the Sikeston defense this season. The Bulldogs have held opponents to a measly 10 points per game and have shut out high profile offenses such as Roosevelt last week and the Cape Central Tigers, twice.

They have kept opposing offenses under 1,000 yards rushing this season keeping them at a staggering 2.2 yards per carry average.

"We try and teach those kids the tendencies so they know them like the back of their hand," McGill said. "They try and know what type of offensive plays they're going to run before the ball is even snapped."

Watching game film and repetition is key in learning what to expect. Knowing what to expect is dangerous for teams facing Sikeston, because it allows the Bulldogs' incomparable speed to work even faster.

"If our kids can play faster and be physical, that's what we want," said McGill. "If they know their tendencies by doing the film work, by doing it on the field and on the board, then they'll play faster and play better.

"We try to utilize that speed," he added. "We feel like we have some beef up front to allow our speed to work. You have to give credit to our defensive line to allow us to use our speed where we can get those guys in open spaces."

Sikeston's defensive line is critical in their attack. If they can stand the offensive line up and not allow any penetration it gives linebackers such as seniors Ray Clark and Treston Pulley a chance to operate.

"Our defense is really based on our D-line just destroying everything," Pulley said. "Then letting the linebackers get what we can get.

"Our defense is real stout."

Both Clark and Pulley are essential in Sikeston's defensive scheme as well. They are responsible for recognizing offensive set and relaying that to the rest of their defense.

"Both of the inside backers do a lot of letting the defense know what the formation is and what checks we have," McGill said. "Both of those guys are the quarterback of the defense.

"Ray and Treston, they've been playing since they were sophomores on our defense. That experience is showing their senior year."

It's one thing to know what's going on, but the most important fundamental to playing defense is tackling. Which is something the Bulldogs do a lot of.

"Tackling is key," said McGill. "You can be fast on defense, but if we can't tackle very well and we can't get two or three guys to the football, then that's when they can make plays."

Combining their knowledge of reading a play and their knack for finding the ball carrier, Sikeston has amassed 44 sacks and 160 tackles for a loss. Their defense has also been a huge asset to the Bulldogs' second straight 13-0 season.

"Every week, coach McGill harps on getting every hat to the ball," Clark said. "He wants to make sure that we all hustle to the ball and make sure that we get the tackle."