HUDSON– Following Fivay’s spring game against River Ridge, Falcons coach Chris Taylor knew there was plenty of work to do on defense if his team was going to be a serious contender in Class 5A-District 6
The Royal Knights ran up-and-down the field in that game — scoring 34 points and yielding 134 yards and five touchdowns to the Royal Knights’ Austin Schwarz.
“We knew we were going to be in a rough spot because we had quite a few linebackers out for the spring game,” said Taylor, whose Falcons are 2-1 and face Wesley Chapel on Friday.
Taylor got a good look at just how far his defense had developed when the Falcons and Royal Knights hooked up again to begin the season. River Ridge won 17-14 on a 53-yard field goal by Phil Molina with 1:22 remaining.
“We practice hard,” said junior linebacker Brice Sesler, a transfer from Ridgewood who has 41 tackles in three games. “There’s not one standout player. Everybody takes pride in their work.”
The Falcons have recorded six sacks and five interceptions in three games. And after giving up eight touchdowns in the spring game and the first half of the Kickoff Classic vs. Sunlake, Fivay has only given up four defensive touchdowns (all rushing). The other two were on a kickoff return and an interception return.
“They are playing hard,” Taylor said. “They’re flying to the football. Our defensive coaching staff has done a great job. They are very prepared in what they are doing. We’ve stayed healthy and have been able to stay together as a unit.”
Through three games, the defense has held opponents to an average of 118.6 yards passing and 97.0 yards rushing.
Ask any member of the defense and they will say there is not any one standout player.
“We’re like family, said junior safety Charles Nickerson. “We work together and feed off each other. It’s not just one man stepping up, it’s everybody coming together.”
Nickerson recorded two interceptions in Fivay’s 5A-6 win against Anclote last Friday.
Defensive lineman Alec Molina credits the summer with getting the Falcons defense turned around.
“We worked really hard over the summer working on technique and working in the weight room,” the junior said. “We have really come together as a group and feed off each other.”
Taylor knows it’s not going to get easier as the season progresses.
(The defense) has been playing good football, he said.
“They just have to remember they have to continue to play good football. It’s not going to get any easier as offenses continue to practice. The offenses are going to get better so we’ve got to get better.
“Overall, I’ve been pleased with them but we’re only three games into a 10-game season.”
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