By: By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
August 26, 2013
They were a brick wall.
The Callaway High defense dominated the Heard County offense on Friday in large part because of the performance of a defensive front line that was spectacular.
When Heard County quarterback Jonathan Hunt dropped back to pass, he rarely had time to set up because someone was always in his face.
And as for the Braves’ vaunted running game, it was almost non-existent because of the effort of Callaway’s defensive front line.
“The defensive line did great,” Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said. “They did a great job of holding the point, getting penetration. They could not have played much better.”
Hubbard said defensive-line coach Jason Sherrer “did a great job with those guys the last couple of weeks. He’s challenged them. He kept telling them how they got their butts whooped last year. I think he lit a fire under them, and that was a big part of what we were able to do.”
A year ago, Heard County’s offense was unstoppable en route to a 43-37 victory over Callaway.
The Cavaliers had a lot of new starters who were still learning their role.
This year, Callaway is a veteran defensive unit, and linebacker Keshun Freeman felt that made a big difference.
“Last year, we were kind of new to each position,” said Freeman, who led the team with 12 tackles. “Everyone was kind of confused. This year everyone knew what they were doing, and we just kind of played as one.”
As for that defensive front, defensive ends J’Lynn Allen and Deon Smith both did a stellar job of caving things in, with Smith coming through with eight tackles, including three for loss.
The starting defensive tackles were Justin Perkins and Lorenzo Patterson, and Quantavius Anderson played a lot at defensive end as well.
Meanwhile two of the linebackers, Freeman and Labronze Zelaya, combined for 20 tackles.
“Whenever your linebackers have a lot of tackles, that means your defensive line did a good job keeping guys off of them,” Hubbard said. “That’s what they did.”
Freeman, who has been a defensive lineman for much of his prep career, said “I was really proud of our defensive line. All of those guys made plays. They helped push the offensive line backward so we could make plays. All of us together, we just worked together as a team, and I was just proud of everybody.”
RUNNING STRONG: The Troup Tigers did a lot of good things during Friday’s preseason game against Auburn High.
The defense delivered a strong effort, second-year starter Will Smith looked comfortable at quarterback, and the team’s depth looked like it’s going to be a strength after a nice showing in the second half when the reserves were in the game.
Another huge positive was the performance of the running backs, including standout senior Daryl Dunlap, who is looking to build on his exceptional junior season.
A handful of other running backs also did a nice job, both in the first half and the second half.
In the first half, most of the carries belonged to Dunlap and Dre Towns, with Towns scoring Troup’s lone offensive touchdown.
“Daryl ran the ball real hard, and Dre definitely showed some things he can do,” Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said.
Kendall also said Nathan Wilborn “ran the ball hard,” and he was impressed with what a handful of other backs did as well.
“I didn’t think we had a running back that went out there that didn’t run the ball hard,” Kendall said.
Kendall also said some other running backs who are out at the moment with injuries should return soon.
“Hopefully within the next two weeks we’ll get those guys back,” Kendall said.
Troup’s offensive line is expected to be a strength of the team, and it had a strong showing against a talented Auburn defensive front line.
“I thought the O-line did really good,” Kendall said.
BRIGHT SPOT: It’s not a glamorous part of the game, but it’s important nonetheless.
One of the positions the LaGrange Grangers came into preseason practice needing to fill was the punter spot, and it looks like they’ve found their man.
Junior Gus Golden, who handled the place-kicking duties at times a year ago, did a terrific job punting during LaGrange’s preseason game against Valley last week.
“Our punter was great,” LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said. “Gus Golden was phenomenal punting the ball.”
Golden’s kicks had a lot of distance and hang time, and he also showed an ability to place a punt deep in the opponent’s territory.
Early in the second quarter, Golden had a punt that landed softly inside the 10-yard line and ended up being downed at the 5-yard line.
Taylor Stanford, meanwhile, made both of his extra-point attempts in the first half.
Stanford, a senior, did a lot of the kicking for the Grangers last season.
While special teams weren’t live for the Valley game, meaning there was no rush and no tackling, it’ll be full-speed ahead when LaGrange opens its season against Newnan on Friday.