Jaumaureo Phillips & Gary Koehring

Team defense

35 points by offense overshadowed by defensive gem in first round
KANELAND—Drew David and the Knights offense was clicking, but it was the other side of the ball that stole the show.

The Knights opened the 2013 playoffs in dominating fashion, picking apart the visiting Hampshire Whip-Purs 35-0.

Defensive coordinator Keith Snyder was very happy with how his unit played.

“I was really happy with how the kids responded,” Snyder said. “We’ve been trying to get back to being a little more simple and letting the kids play football after the Sycamore game, and the last two weeks they’ve done a heck of a job doing it.”

On Friday, the Knights’ defense was always in the right spots to make plays.

“We tried to dial it down to let the kids fly around and be aggressive, and they’ve really responded,” he said.

Senior Gary Koehring, who led the team with 8.5 tackles, led the defense, which has given up an average of only 10.5 points through last Friday’s game.

“Our defense played awesome; we all are buying into what coach Snyder has us doing,” Koehring said, “Everyone is doing their jobs, and we’re just playing as a whole unit.”

Koehring was impressed with his teammates’ contributions, too.

“Tyler Carlson played really well; he had two interceptions. He’s done a really nice job filling in for our two graduated guys last year in Korey Harner and Blake Bradford,” Koehring said. “Andy Kray steps up as a sophomore; he’s been doing really good this year.”

Carlson also had a tackle for a loss, and Kray had one of three sacks for the Knights.

“Everyone has just stepped up as a unit this year,” said Koehring.

The Knight’s offense was impressive, too. Junior Isaac Swithers got the Knights on the board on their third possession with a three-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the first quarter.

The Knights drove the ball well early in the second quarter, with key catches coming from senior John Pruett (five catches for 91 yards), and were rewarded with another Swithers TD run, this time from the goal line.
Later in the second, after a Brandon Bishop 51-yard touchdown pass was called back due to a penalty, David found junior Connor Fedderly for a seven-yard TD pass with 1:57 to go before the half.

Two third quarter touchdowns: a four-yard run by senior Nate Dyer after a nice drive, and a quick strike 14 yard pass from David to senior Tyler Slamans as time expired in the third quarter finished the scoring on the night.

However, a scary moment came with 7:51 left in the third quarter, when Bishop (seven catches, 91 yards) had to be taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons after taking a helmet to the back on a punt return. The senior did give his teammates and the Peterson Field crowd a thumbs up as he was loaded into the ambulance. Head coach Tom Fedderly said Bishop’s playing status wouldn’t be determined until late in the week.

Hampshire finished the night with only 84 yards of total offense, and had just four first downs.

“To do what we did tonight and with the turnovers, (to give up) only four first downs and to shut a team out in the playoffs—that’s a total team defensive effort right there,” Snyder said after the game.

Snyder credited his unit’s preparation for keeping the Whip-Purs offense in shambles.

“It starts in film study, and they’ve been phenomenal. They see things I haven’t even seen, and I pride myself in studying film,” Snyder said.

Snyder was quick to credit the rest of the defensive staff.

“Their position coaches do a tremendous job with them—Pat Ryan with the inside linebackers, Marcus Goedken with the defensive line and Ryan Gierke with the defensive backs—so when they get to me, I can just coach them on some smaller things, and then they just know what is going on out there,” Snyder said. “It makes my job much easier when you have smart football players that play like that.”

The Knights now travel to Joliet, Ill., to take on the Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. The winner of the second-round matchup will face the winner of the Montini Catholic/Marian Catholic matchup in the Quarterfinals.


Photos by Patti Wilk