Now that was a defensive effort
Please indulge me in giving you a little personal background information before I get to the meat of this week’s column.
I have covered high school sports for 40 years. Yeah, really, it has been exactly that long I started in 1972.
That includes a lot of high school football games. Some were in heat, some were in sub-zero temperatures. Some in the rain, some in the snow. Once on a perfectly frozen field that more resembled a hockey rink. Once in fog so thick you couldn’t even see the players. (Try taking photos under those conditions.)
I have covered some pretty darn good teams in that time period.
I once covered a team with a quarterback who would go on to play backup QB with the Minnesota Vikings, the New Orleans Saints and even that team located in Green Bay, Wis.
I once covered a team that had an absolutely outstanding running back, who went into the Minnesota State High School League record book by gaining the second most yards in a high school career in the history of football in this state. (If he hadn’t broken his leg in his sophomore year and had to sit out half the season, I am sure he would have shattered the record.)
I once covered a team that was 21 points down with under three minutes left in the game and they came back to win it. Half the crowd had gone home and missed it.
And, of course, I also covered a football team that had a big lineman who went on to play football for the Minnesota Gophers.
Yep, I have covered some pretty darn good teams in 40 years.
But, I have never ever seen a high school team play defense like this Blue Earth Area Buccaneer squad.
Maybe nobody has.
If you have been to even one BEA football game this year, you know what I mean. Because this team has played incredible defense in each and every one of the 13 games they have played this season.
It has been the major factor in why they went 13-0. They simply kept the other team from scoring. That includes some teams who had a high-powered offense, a Division I recruited quarterback, a trio of top notch running backs whatever.
It didn’t matter. The Buccaneer defense shut them all down.
And, have you seen these guys? It’s not like they are all hulking 200 pounders. Without the pads, they are actually only average size. Maybe even smaller than average.
But, they are not afraid to hit. They hit hard. They hit fast. And sometimes they hit in a pack, all at the same time.
They stopped most teams’ running attacks dead in their tracks.
It might be Carter Hanson flying in out of nowhere and not only taking down the opposing runner, but planting him into the turf five yards back.
Try and double team him and suddenly David Franta and Kysten Zierke are gonna nail you to a dead stop.
And, if the other team decides to pass, here comes Gus Phillips in to sack the quarterback before the poor guy hardly knows what hit him. Or Isaac Darrington leaps six feet into the air and bats down an attempted pass.
Of course, all of the defensive linemen, defensive backs and the linebackers all worked together as a perfect fine-tuned unit closing down the run and the pass both at the same time.
You could literally see and feel the frustration in the other team. They must have been thinking, “OK, that didn’t work. What the heck do we do next?”
A lot of the credit for this defense has to go to defensive coordinator Travis “Doc” Armstrong. His ‘prescription’ for the defense certainly worked.
And, OK, we need to give a lot of credit to the offense of the Bucs.
They were certainly no slouches. the running attack worked well. The same players who liked to stop the other team from gaining yards were determined not to be stopped when they had the ball in their hands.
But, I have to repeat it.
In 40 years I have seen some great passes and catches. I have seen some incredible runs.
But, I have never ever seen a high school team play defense like this.
It was incredible to watch. And a lot of fun as well.
Congratulations to the Buccaneer players, their coaches, the fans, cheerleaders, managers, mascot, parents and anyone else who had anything whatsoever to do with making this such a fun and awesome football season.
Ya done good!