Creating chaos

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blue Devils defensive tackle Tyler Nero wraps up a Jackson running back last Friday, while defensive end Montez Curry breaks past an Aggie offensive lineman.|Photo by Chandler Myers

Since week one of the 2010 season, the defense of the Escambia County Blue Devils has caused chaos for opposing offenses including their regular season losses to UMS-Wright, Thomasville and Jackson.

One reason for that chaos has been the constant work up front by their defensive line.

Blue Devils Dalvin Craft, Montez Curry and Tyler Nero have put in work all season and worn down offensive lines in every game.

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For Curry this is the first season he has played at defensive end after playing his previous seasons at defensive tackle.

He said he has had fun with the move to his new position.

“I’ve enjoyed playing defensive end a lot,” he said. “It’s a good move for me and with coach (Karl) Smith teaching me how to play the position, I have really liked it.”

One thing that works to Curry’s advantage on the defensive line is the players that line up with him.

Along with Curry, defensive tackles Tyler Nero and Dalvin Craft help form a formidable trio of pass rushers and run stoppers that give linemen for opposing teams fits.

Curry said having two bigger linemen help take some pressure off of him to make plays.

Blue Devils defensive end Montez Curry wraps a Thomasville Tiger for a tackle.|Photo by Adam Prestridge

“Having Dalvin and Tyler on the line with me helps get guys away from me,” he said. “Offensive linemen think they can overpower me because I’m usually smaller than them, but I like being underestimated and coming up with big stops.”

For Nero, he sees his job as the most difficult on the line and agrees that he helps free up Curry and Craft to make plays.

He said at nosetackle he receives a lot of double teams against opponents.

“Playing the nose is hard because I’m always getting double teamed and sometimes triple teamed,” Nero said. “With the offensive line squeezing down on me, it helps Montez and Dalvin get free and make great plays.”

Busting through an offensive lineman that weighs on a range anywhere from 230 pounds to more than 300 pounds is difficult and takes a lot of practice.

Craft said one thing that makes him a benefit to his team and is teammates on the line is his ability to work hard.

“My work ethic is something that I have worked on and helps me be a better player,” he said. “When I play, I play hard enough to know that I’m not going to allow anyone to beat me.”

For Curry, the techniques he has learned from drills along with the abilities he has is something he brings to the trio.

He said his size allows him to have an advantage on some people.

“My quickness in rushing the quarterback is something that I have over some people,” Curry said. “To get that quickness, we run drills in practice that help us explode out of our stance.”

Nero agrees with both his teammates on what it takes to be a good lineman.

He said everything from effort to techinique is what helps him against opponents.

“A lot of it’s about speed and going hard every play,” he said. “If you run to the ball like you’re supposed to then you have a better chance to make a play. Overall, my power and technique have helped me on the line.”

Despite the notion that he does his job well, Craft still thinks he could always improve.

“Everything I do could use improvement,” he said. “I am always doing more and working harder to improve my game.”

The trio of chaos creators have improved each week, according to their head coach.

That improvement is something that showed last week in the Blue Devils’ 22-21 win over No. 3 Jackson.

All three players said their best performance of the season came in last week’s match up.

Curry said that it was his best performance because he saw where he had become better since the team’s met in week eight.

“Last Friday against Jackson, I saw how much I have improved,” he said. “From the first time we played them, I could tell a difference in how I played and thought it was my best game.”

Craft said that he knew it was his best game because he did what he had been coached to do.

“In our win over Jackson, I worked hard every play, and did everything that our coaches taught me to do.”

For Nero, a postgame handshake with a Jackson offensive lineman showed that he had played a strong game.

Nero said he thought it was his best performance because he moved the Aggies offensive line around so well.

“I got more penetration and did what I was supposed to do,” he said. “When their lineman shook my hand, it showed a lot of character. To congratulate someone like that after a tough game where he lost was really respectable. I respect him for that.”

With three talented linemen lining up on his defense, Blue Devils head coach Mark Heaton gives them credit for the work they do.

“They have progressed into the three best defensive linemen I have ever coached,” he said. “They are so fundamentally sound. Our staff has been on them all season to become sound, I think they have learned that you have to play like that in order to be successful. You couldn’t ask for three better guys than Dalvin, Tyler and Montez.”

This week, the three linemen will be tested when they faceoff against the No. 5 Bibb County Choctaws at Herbert Barnes Stadium.

Blue Devils defensive tackle Dalvin Craft sacks the Baldwin County Tigers quarterback on Oct. 29.|Photo by Chandler Myers