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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

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A formidable defense

The Del Norte High defense takes down an Arcata player during a game on Oct. 5. The defense has allowed only 39 points this season. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson III).
The Del Norte High defense takes down an Arcata player during a game on Oct. 5. The defense has allowed only 39 points this season. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson III).

By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

CRESCENT CITY —If the old football mantra "defense wins championships" is true, the Del Norte High varsity football team has a lot be encouraged about.

While the 6-0 Warriors have an explosive offense that can put points on the board in a hurry, the defense has been a huge part of the squad's success this year.

When you hold opponents to only 39 points in six games—the vast majority scored after the game has been decided—you're certainly pulling your weight and than some on the football field.

Last week, the defense allowed only one yard of rushing in the first half against Eureka and only 40 total running yards.

Defensive Coordinator Fritz Baldwin said a key component for any good defense is "intimidation," and his players bring that with both great speed and good size, he said.

Baldwin said his defense has good football players from top to bottom that can contribute, which helps him and his defensive coaches be flexible and know that any of the players have the capability to get the job done.

"I think they've all been excellent," he said. "They all get along and have respect for each other. They know they can depend on the guy next to them."

Junior linebacker Roger McCovey agreed, saying he and his fellow defensive players have played with each other long enough to have formed a trust with one another.

"You don't have to worry about the guy next to you," he said. "They're on it. I know they'll do their job."

"We're all on the same page," senior weakside tackle James Sampier said. "I feel pretty good about what we've been able to do in every game so far. We just have to keep it going."

He added he and his fellow defensive players know that while they have done well so far, they always need to strive to do even better.

The defense has shown it is one cohesive unit the entire year —not allowing any team to burst out for major scoring runs.

Against Eureka, with Del Norte up 14-0, the Loggers started to go to the air, moved the ball down the field and put up seven points to cut the lead to 14-7.

Head coach Lewis Nova said he was quite impressed with the way Baldwin and his defensive coaches were able to make in-game adjustments to make sure Eureka would not be able to successfully go to the air the rest of the game and "shut them down." The Warriors ended up winning 40-14.

Baldwin said he loves the intensity and effort his defense gives.

While off the field he describes them as "docile kids," he said that changes when they put on the football gear and head to the field to play a game. That's when the transformation occurs and they become a tough and aggressive unit that will hit hard and make sure their opponents can't run, throw or catch on them.

"They go all out and know what they have to do," Baldwin said.

Baldwin said he believes his defense is solid in all positions and said each player brings there own talents to the equation.

The defensive line is strong, with players "that have speed and quickness," Baldwin said. "They (cause) havoc on the offensive line."

These players include Brent Morrison, Tanner Brown, Sampier and Jake Young.

Baldwin said they "do a great job flowing to the ball."

Saxon Schultz and Cody Hoffman, who are key components as the tight end and a wide receiver on offense, bring their speed and size to the defense as linebackers.

And than there's McCovey, who is 6 feet 3 inches and 235 pounds. He has been a force all season, using his terrific quickness for a big man to cause trouble for the opposing team's players. He has been part of several key fumbles during the season and has been a headache for the opposing offensive players to contain with his size, speed and strength.

Baldwin said one thing that makes McCovey a formidable player is that, besides his physical attributes, he has an exceptional ability to "read" the opponent's offensive line and has the football smarts and instincts to anticipate what the opponent is planning to do.

The defensive backs have also done an excellent job making sure that when the quarterback is able to throw, his receivers are well covered.

Baldwin said Trevor Rook, who also is known as the team's do-it-all running back, is a solid defense player to boot. Although he is only about 5 feet 7 inches tall, Baldwin said he uses great jumping and running skills to make sure the receiver does not catch the ball, and he covers his man well. Defensive back Taylor Duncan also does a good job covering the receiver and using his speed to keep up and play good coverage, he said.

The Warriors next play against Fortuna in Crescent City in the annual homecoming game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

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