Freedom’s Marcus Hill first noticed the trend on his Samsung Galaxy smartphone. All week, the senior defensive tackle had heard Eagles’ defensive coordinator Endor Cooper harping about the Battlefield offensive line’s tendency to lean on running plays – to “jump out” at defenders.
But now — thanks to his phone’s free “Hudl” app — he was seeing it on film for himself.
Armed with the key piece of knowledge, Hill and fellow defender Kyree Campbell entered Saturday’s game against the Bobcats with a measured plan of attack — and a finesse move called a snatch.
“You let them [linemen] blow past you, and you can essentially attack the quarterback or the ballcarrier,” Hill said.
Hill had all the right moves. He sacked Bobcats’ quarterback Matt Gallagher three times, and the Eagles held the Bobcats (1-2) to just 98 yards of offense in Freedom’s 21-10 win.
According to Freedom Coach Gary Wortham, Hill — the only returning starter on the Eagles’ offensive line — used the past few seasons to glean anything and everything about his position from graduated standouts Gary Wortham Jr. and Mykell Anderson.
“He [Hill] was a young guy playing behind those guys, and he kinda looked up to those guys in terms of the position and trying to learn it,” Wortham said. “Now, he’s taken over at the helm of our D-line corps.”
At 3-0, Freedom sits at the top of the Cardinal District standings. It’s a far cry from recent seasons, when Eagles’ players tended to approach Fridays with a defeatist, yet resilient attitude.
“There were some times in the past where we kinda looked at it as ‘yeah, we’re going to lose,’” Hill said. “But even though we thought we were going to lose, we always played for pride.”
No. 18 Bruins pulled together at summer camp
Forest Park’s team bond was forged while scaling the steps of James Madison’s Bridgeforth Stadium. It was forged with the 6 a.m. roll calls and at night in the dormitories without air conditioning.
However far the No. 18 Bruins make it this season, the journey started in mid-July, during three-a-days in Harrisonburg.
“Every time we look back, we always look at JMU, because we went through hell together,” said Darin Hungerford, a Forest Park senior defensive lineman, who recorded two sacks and six tackles in the Bruins’ 21-3 win over Stonewall Jackson (1-2) Saturday.
Hungerford and his defensive compatriots shut the Raiders out through three quarters and scored two touchdowns.
At 5-foot-9, the senior never viewed himself a true option in the trenches at the varsity level, but he never broached the topic with Bruins Coach David Coccoli.
“I never really expected to play on the line at the varsity level,” said Hungerford, “but I did what’s best for the team. And it’s paying off.”
But for Hungerford, who also starts at guard on offense, the Bruins (3-0) are only clicking on one side of the ball.
“If we can’t get our offense going, it’s going to be a rough road ahead,” he said.
Junior quarterback Nathan Perrin threw as many interceptions (two) as completions, and the Bruins stalled several times in the red zone. Coccolli said “as of now,” that he’s still committed to Perrin under center.
As a result of ineptitude in the passing game, Stonewall loaded the box with as many as nine defenders on some plays.
Despite fighting numbers at the point of attack, the Bruins found some tread on the ground when senior Nathan Gaines scored on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter.
“It’s just a mentality you have to have,” Hungerford said. “I don’t care if they put all 11 in the box, we’re going to run the ball, and we’re going to run it down their throats.”