Taking away the option

JDHS played nearly perfect team and individual defense against Palmer

Posted: Monday, September 05, 2005

Following Friday's 50-7 win over visiting Palmer, Juneau-Douglas high school tailback/linebacker Tres Saldivar said the Crimson Bears are a good football team because they trust each other.

In no other aspect of Friday's rout was that more evident then in how Juneau-Douglas negated Palmer's spread-option attack.

"They cover each other so well," JDHS defensive coordinator Eddie Brakes said. "One thing with the defense is that we can do so many things because of the athletes we do have. The support, the communication is there."

Stopping the option is one of the more stressful predicaments for a defense because it places tremendous responsibility on each one of the 11 defensive players.

To shut down the option attack, the first priority is stopping the fullback dive.

Defensive tackles Lane Miller, Justin Behrends and Will Tonsgard stopped Moose fullback Steel Tubbs from finding open room and pushed the play into Palmer's backfield.

"First you have the dive man, and we have our interior line so I wasn't worried about that," Brakes said. "They're going to beat their man."

When Juneau-Douglas stuffed the middle, it forced Moose quarterback Jeremy Weber to roll out. When that happened, defensive ends Faifo Levale and Joe Kohan forced Weber into a decision - keep the ball and run or pitch it to a halfback.

Levale's play especially disrupted Palmer's backfield. He earned player of the game honors for his efforts.

"He has to shut down the quarterback," Brakes said of Levale. "(Weber) was taking two steps and Faifo was in his face. He's 230 pounds with good speed. He beat the lead blocker and took a good angle on the quarterback every play."

When Weber pitched the ball, the responsibility fell to outside linebackers Josh Lehauli and Tres Saldivar. If Palmer running backs Tanner Grover or Haaken Bohman escaped their clutches, then defensive backs Ryan Fagerstrom, Dylan Ashe and Kanaan Bausler were the last line of defense to make the tackle.

JDHS middle linebacker Brian Maller also found ways to attack Palmer's ball-carriers.

Each individual on Juneau's defense performed their duty, limiting the Moose to 184 rushing yards.

On offense, the Crimson Bears showed off a different part of their offensive arsenal against the Moose.

"I noticed they put two guys on (wide receiver) Ryan Fagerstrom," JDHS offensive coordinator Rich Sjoroos said. "It opened up the middle of the field and (quarterback Chris) Hinkley took care of that. He went to the middle and hit Lehauli and Maller for big plays."

In addition to passes over the middle, JDHS utilized the screen pass to catch Palmer off-guard.

The screen pass took advantage of the Crimson Bears' athletic offensive line and Palmer's aggressive linebackers.

Hinkley completed four screen passes for 114 yards and two TDs.

"I told the kids during the week that screen passes might come into play," Sjoroos said. "Teams that come after us this year, now we're picking up the blitzes and making them pay with the screen pass. I thought that was a real key and the down-field blocks were good."

Juneau-Douglas (4-0, 3-0 Railbelt) visits Wasilla on Saturday.

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com

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