By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It’s been said that defense wins championships. While the Morrison Wildcats’ final destination in the playoffs remains to be determined there is no doubt that their defense has played a key role in getting them there.
“Our defense has stepped up to the plate,” senior defensive lineman Brent Coleman said. “We are showing people that this is the backbone of the team.”
The last three weeks, the Wildcats have only allowed 13 points including a shutout in last Saturday’s 24-0 second-round playoff victory over Elmore City-Pernell. Two weeks ago, they held Kiefer, who was ranked sixth and averaged 43 points per game to just six points. Coach Cory Bales said some of their success has been to an adjustment they’ve made on the line.
“We went to a five-man front a while back,” Bales said. “The defensive line has done a good job of getting our linebackers free and allowing them to run downhill at the ball carrier and make plays.”
One of those adjustments is using sophomore Jordan Quinata as a monster man, which is a player that can cover deep zones, defend runs and occasionally play on the line of scrimmage. That’s a position Quinata loves.
“(My coaches) have put me in a position to make big plays and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Quinata said.
One of the keys to Morrison’s defensive success is being disciplined.
“We are aggressive,” Coleman said. “We are swarming to the ball. We don’t make mistakes and when we do we make up for them with our mentality and attitude. We have a chance to put our name in the history books.”
Morrison’s ability to swarm to the ball has limited opponents’ success on the ground which causes them to throw the ball — which hasn’t gone much better. Against Kiefer on Nov. 8, Morrison only allowed 24 yards on 21 attempts. In the first round against Fairland, the Owls only passed for four yards on one completion. Last Saturday against Elmore City-Pernell, the Badgers only gained four yards through the air.
“Our secondary is doing a good job of not allowing big passing plays,” Bales said. “When you can make a team one-dimensional you have really good chance of winning.”
Saturday’s shutout was the third posted by the Morrison defense. That’s something Bales will gladly take.
“It takes pressure off your offense,” Bales said. “When your defense is playing like that you only have to put a couple of drives together.”
Defense may be what carries Morrison through the rest of the playoffs as the competition gets tougher starting Friday with the Class A defending state champion Ringling.
“We have a huge challenge with what Ringling does,” Bales said. “They are bigger than us up front and run the ball well.”