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Football: Wildcats look for improved defense against Nelson

Profile image for By Adam Boedeker / Staff Writer
By Adam Boedeker / Staff Writer

Winning last year’s game against Trophy Club Nelson wasn’t a huge problem for Guyer, but even after roaring to a 53-28 win despite being held scoreless in the first quarter there was a bad taste in the Wildcats’ mouths.

The Bobcats put up rushing stats reminiscent of a Guyer offensive output, running for 287 yards against Guyer’s traditionally strong rush defense and seeing their running back hit the 200-yard mark.

This year, the Guyer defense is making it personal, and the unit’s top priority is showing that this year’s defense isn’t as friendly.

“We expect them to attack us the same way this year,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “Their schemes are good and they believe in what they do, and they do it with good people. I’ve challenged our front seven all week because I reminded them they scored a lot of points and went up and down the field running the ball.”

Running room against Guyer (3-2, 2-0 District 5-4A), No. 6 in the latest Associated Press Class 4A poll, has been hard to come by this season, as the Wildcats are allowing opponents a paltry 1.2 yards per carry.

Nelson (4-1, 1-1) is making its offensive living on the ground, with just 460 passing yards this season, and the Bobcats are doing it with a big, workhorse back in Courtney Miles, who’s rushed for 446 and four touchdowns.

“They know they’re stopping the run right now,” Walsh said of his defense, “so it’ll be a good challenge for us to see if we can keep stopping it and for [Nelson] to see if they can keep running it.”

Nelson’s success on the ground starts with the big guys up front, much in the same way Guyer’s running game succeeds. The Bobcats’ starting offensive linemen weigh more than 300 pounds on average.

Guyer senior middle linebacker Marcel Thomas said they aren’t just big up front, but the Bobcats’ offensive linemen also are athletic and relentless in their blocking.

“They’re all humongous,” Thomas said. “It’s even bigger than [Flower Mound] Marcus’. They actually move up to the second level, too. They’re big, strong, powerful and they keep going.

“One false move against an offensive line like that, and they can open up a big hole. We have to do everything perfect.”

The big, strong aspect of the Bobcats’ identity carries over to the defensive side of the ball, and Guyer senior quarterback Jerrod Heard is ready for the challenge.

“They’re physical and they fly to the ball,” said Heard, a Texas pledge. “They have some really good linebackers that make plays.”

Heard compared Nelson’s defense to Marcus’ in regard to their size and physical brand of play. The Wildcats rushed for 308 yards on 40 carries in their win over the Marauders earlier this season.

“They’re physical and big and very strong,” Heard said. “That’s [size and strength] how we get our edge, and it’s clear that’s how they get theirs.”

Even in some subpar performances this season, such as the district opener against Azle when Guyer scored 41 points despite being “sloppy the whole game,” Walsh said, the Wildcats will score points week in and week out.

Entering the season, Walsh said he wanted his defense to win games, something it’s done on several occasions thus far.

To notch another win this week, the Wildcats will have to contain a powerful offense that could be without starting quarterback Esteban Ortega but will have sophomore Preston Haire under center after he led a comeback victory over Lake Dallas a week ago.

Thomas is confident he and his teammates can do just that.

“We’ve been talking about [last year’s game against Nelson] all week,” Thomas said. “They think they can run the ball on us, but I can see them watching us on film and they might be doubting that a little bit now.”

ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.