, Salem, MA

Sports Special

September 10, 2010

Getting Defensive

More than ever, high school defenses have to be flexible and ready to adapt to the ever-changing offenses that they face each week

Think that high school classes such as Honors Calculus, Accelerated Modern World Conflicts or Environmental Engineering are tough?

Try playing defense for your high school football team.

Are you capable of making your reads, staying in your lanes and putting a hat on the ball every time the pigskin is snapped?

Will you be able to recognize when your opponents on the other side of the ball come out in a Wildcat formation, intent on running a Split Zone?

Is it in you to decipher audibles, make your checks at the line of scrimmage and adjust accordingly — all in a matter of seconds?

If you want to be successful at this level, you better be able to.

More now than at any other time in history, high school football defenses must stay ahead of the curve to keep up with the constant change that offenses present them with. It means being able to read and react, make adjustments on the fly and never, ever getting caught out of position.

"It comes down to the offense is trying to dictate the game," said Peter Bush, the defensive backs coach at Swampscott High, "and the defense is trying to dictate the tempo of what the offense does. Whoever wins that battle is most likely going to be on top at the end of the game."

"The whole game plan starts with your defense. It has to be the strongest part of your team," added Beverly High captain Joe Wioncek, who will play both linebacker and safety this fall. "(Playing well defensively) can really be a huge momentum changer."

The phrase 'defense wins championships' has been around for as long as white laces have been on brown footballs; that axiom won't ever change. What has changed is the way these units must be ready for any play at any time — and stop it.

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