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Football: Defense keys Argyle’s playoff win

Profile image for By Rich Luna / For the Denton Record-Chronicle
By Rich Luna / For the Denton Record-Chronicle

FLOWER MOUND — If it’s true that defense wins championships, the Argyle Eagles may well be the team that returns to play for a state title in late December.

Argyle’s defense continued its relentless ways Friday night, this time against Bridgeport in the Class 3A Division II bi-district playoff round, supporting an equally effective Eagles’ offense in a 45-0 victory.

The Eagles, who lost 21-14 in the state championship game last year to Wimberly, will now play Melissa on Friday at the C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in the next round of the state playoffs. Game time is tentatively set for 2 p.m.

The Eagles (10-1) have won 10 straight games following a season-opening 31-14 loss to Abilene Wylie. Since then, Argyle has outscored its opponents 463-62.

Their success can be directly tied to their defense. The Eagles shut out two of those opponents and gave up 10 or more points twice, with the most points coming against Dallas Madison, which scored 18. Just as impressive, the Eagles’ defense has allowed only one touchdown in the last five games. Celina’s touchdown last week against Argyle came on a fumble return.

On Friday, the Argyle defense set the tone on the first very series. Bridgeport gained 1 yard on two rushing plays before Argyle’s 6-foot-1, 240-pound junior nose guard Micah Capra sacked Bridgeport quarterback Trey Cook for a quick three-and-out.

Bridgeport would cross midfield just twice, both times in the first half, and would finish with just 140 yards total offense.

“We’re really just trying to play to our kids’ strengths,” Argyle defensive coordinator Greg Mouser said. ‘We’re fast, we’ve got quickness, and we hit well. Ever since we lost to Wylie, we’ve adjusted our play to take advantage of those things.”

Argyle’s success on defense can be measured in numerous statistics. The Eagles gave up just 95 yards on the ground to the Bulls. They limited Bridgeport’s leading rusher, Gabe Huerta, to 19 yards on 11 carries. Huerta entered the game with 1,270 yards.

Argyle allowed just seven first downs and 45 yards on 3-of-15 passing with two interceptions. Another plus was there were no penalties against the Eagles’ defense.

“We want to play fast and hit hard,” Capra said. “There’s a lot of motivation on this team and those of us who were in that state game last year. Our coaches are doing a great job of helping us adjust during the game.”

Mouser added his unit had indeed kept its focus.

“It’s a smart group. They see things and they immediately bring it to us so we can adjust.”

The Bulls moved 43 yards on their second possession of the game before Argyle’s defense again responded. On first-and-10 from the 29, Hunter Gantt threw to Blake Arrington but was intercepted by Hunter Treadwell, his second interception of the season. That would be Bridgeport’s deepest drive into Argyle territory.

It just didn’t get any better for the Bulls. Bridgeport’s third possession ended on a fourth-and-7 when Argyle defender Wood Speed pressured Cook for an incomplete pass.

The Bulls’ fourth possession ended in a punt and their fifth possession ended with the first half.

The second half was more of the same:

•  Three-and-out.

•  Three-and-out.

•  One first down and then a fumble recovered by Argyle’s Drew Estrada.

•  An interception by Argyle’s Dean Eddy on first down. It was his first interception of the season.

•  One first down and then turned over on downs.

“We were able to get into their backfield tonight and force some things,” Speed said. “We knew if we could force them to throw early, we could put some pressure on them. I think it really affected their game and helped us do some of the things we wanted.

“Our confidence is really good right now. We know the difference between being cocky and being confident. We’ve still got some work to do. We don’t want our season to end with a loss.”