Friday, October 23, 2009

Big Spring running back Monte Anderson, who sat out last year’s meeting against Cooper because of an injury, wanted to know what all the talk was about concerning the Cougars. Now he knows.
The Big Spring senior was averaging 200 yards a game going into Friday’s District 4-4A showdown with Cooper. The Coogs held him to 98 yards on 31 carries — an average of 3.1 yards a carry. Anderson had just two runs of more than six yards — one for 12 and another for 23. He didn’t score a touchdown in Cooper’s 21-18 victory over the Steers, who came into the game unbeaten and ranked No. 7 in Class 4A.
“There was all this big talk about him and how good he is and the 200-yards-a-game thing,” said Cooper junior Joshua’e Robinson, an inside linebacker. “We just came in and did what we had to do to win.”
Not only did Cooper slow Anderson, it held an explosive Big Spring offense to only 289 yards, including 161 passing.
Cooper coach Mike Spradlin couldn’t have been happier with his defense.
“It was a great effort by our guys,” he said. “We’ve played some great running backs, and he’s one of them. You’re talking about an offense that was averaging 450 yards a game coming in, and rightfully so. Those guys have a good football team, and we think they’re going to make a huge run in the playoffs.”
Both Cooper and Big Spring went into the game tied for the district lead at 2-0. Now, Cooper is all alone at the top with two district games remaining — Friday at defending district champion Wolfforth Frenship and Nov. 6 at home against Plainview. The Cougars, who clinched a playoff berth with Friday’s win, are seeking their first district title since 2003.
“It was a big win for us,” Spradlin said. “We certainly got after Anderson a little bit, and we got after (quarterback Tyler) Tannehill, got a nice pass rush on him and forced him into some bad throws. They got us a couple of times. But all in all, we were real pleased.”
Much of the success on defense Friday night could be traced back to Cooper’s defensive front of nose guard Joe Dillard, defensive ends Jamar Renfro and Quincy Moore, and the two inside linebackers — Britton Hale and Robinson. The unit did a good job of containing Anderson and putting pressure on Tannehill.
Spradlin said he expected big things out of the defensive front this season, especially with the return of first-team all-district pick Moore, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior, and Robinson, a 5-11, 235-pound junior who was a second-team all-district selection last season. But Spradlin said the new guys — Dillard, Renfro and Hale — have been solid additions.
“Joe Dillard played great as a sophomore on the JV (last year) and had a great offseason, good powerlifting season — all that,” Spradlin said. “Of course, he’s done a great job at nose. Joe’s a big body guy. The biggest guy we’ve had since I’ve been here, and then Jamar Renfro’s a special guy, too. A hard, hard worker, a big powerlifter for us playing defensive end.
Dillard, a 5-foot-10, 245-pound junior, and Renfro, a 5-10, 230-pound junior, were expected to do well. But Hale, a 5-10, 180-pound sophomore, has been a pleasant surprise. He filled in when starter Greg Nicholas went down with an injury — and played well enough to keep the job. Once healthy, Nicholas moved to outside linebacker.
“Britton went in there and just made plays, did a great job,” Spradlin said. “We think all five of those guys are playing extremely well.”
Hale even returned a fumble 19 yards for a touchdown in a 62-14 win over San Angelo Lake View in the second week of district play.
Cooper’s defense was suspect during the Coogs’ final three non-district games — all losses to Class 5A teams. During that stretch, Cooper was giving up an average of 42.6 points.
Robinson admitted the Coogs weren’t playing well on defense during that stretch.
“That’s the God-honest truth,” Robinson said. “We were doing things the wrong way.”
Dillard agreed.
“It was just mental mistakes,” he said. ”We weren’t executing things the way we were supposed to.”
But since the Coogs have hit district, they’ve allowed no more than two touchdowns a game.
“We weren’t quite as worried as everyone else was, because we saw flashes of what we could do,” Spradlin said. “We knew we were young, and when you come through a stretch like we came through, it’s going to expose you a little bit. That’s not a bad thing, sometimes. Your kids learn from it.”
Then the Coogs have a defensive effort like Friday night.
“It really just boosted our confidence a lot,” Dillard said.
Added Spradlin: “There’s no doubt about it. We’re starting to come together defensively at a time when we really need to. We’re going to get tested again this week, and it’s going to happen in the playoffs. It’s great to know we’re in, but we’ve got some unfinished business.”

No comments:

Post a Comment