Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017

EA defense has allowed 13.5 PPG

Having good players and keeping things simple.

Those are the two main keys to Escambia Academy’s defense this season.

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So far, the Cougars have allowed an average of 13.5 points per game. Their only shutout so far came against Jackson Academy on Sept. 15 in a 35-0 road win.

Defensive coordinator John Gartman said the defense is doing so well this year because of two factors.

“We have a lot of good players,” Gartman said. “That’s where it starts — on both sides of the ball. We have athletes, really everywhere.

“We really don’t have a weakness on defense,” he said. “All of our starters are good, solid players. They’re a tough bunch.”

For seniors Jamie Welker, MJ Jones, Fred Flavors, JoJo Carpenter and Louie Turner, executing on defense week in and week out is a top priority.

Jones characterized the defense like a cohesive unit.

“Everybody’s doing their job,” he said. “Nobody’s trying to be a super hero.”

This year, three of EA’s four linebackers started last year.

Gartman said all have at least one full year of experience.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had that,” he said.

Carpenter said using the brotherhood concept has helped the defense, and the rest of the team jell together well.

“He’s got my back if I mess up,” Carpenter said about the benefits of the brotherhood concept. “We rely on each other. I know if I mess up, he’s got my back.”

All five seniors said an every-game goal is to shutout each opponent.

If there’s one thing that each senior said they’ve learned under Gartman’s leadership is that they go full speed on every play, no matter what happens.

“One thing he always tells me is that if you mess up, be sure you’re going full speed,”

Turner said.

Gartman said he tries to keep the defensive schemes simple.

“We keep things real simple,” he said. “One thing I learned a long time ago is that there’s a real big difference from executing something on the football field, and taking the game to the field. They may be a little nervous; the lights may be brighter, and they may be a little anxious and haven’t seen things before.”

Gartman added that it’s important that each defender needs to know what they’re doing, and know it well.

“We stress fundamentals and really work hard on what the other team does,” he said. “That’s why we keep our schemes simple. Instead of running a bunch of coverage stuff, we want to keep it simple when the offense lines up. Because of that, we expect the formation.”

Each senior said that they all have areas to improve on, and added that the defense has played its best game, yet.

Up next for the Cougars’ defense will be top-ranked Autauga Academy on Oct. 20 in Prattville.