One of the oldest and most often used sports adage is “offense wins games and defense wins championships.”
Teurlings Catholic certainly hopes that adage proves to be true this season as they are equipped with one of the best defenses in the area if not the state.
The Rebels’ defensive unit is highlighted by the return of eight defensive starters in defensive linemen J.T. Hebert, Logan Dupre’, Jessie Provost, linebackers Mike Courville, Chris Trosclair, Devin Delcambre and defensive backs Michael Hawkins and Brennan Stelly.
“We have three of four defensive linemen and both of our inside linebackers back this year,” Rebels defensive coordinator Mike Doherty said. “Anytime you can control the line of scrimmage with your defensive front, everyone else is likely to have a good game. It just allows for everything else to fall into place.”
Doherty believes a stifling defense like what the Rebels possess, which also includes defensive lineman Patrick Langlinais and defensive backs Willie Smith and Garrett O’Friel, tends to force opposing offenses out of their comfort zone.
“Between the tackles, we feel really strong,” Doherty said. “We feel like our defensive front makes people do what they don’t want to do. Our defensive front makes teams have to throw the football and/or run the football to the outside.”
That stout Rebels defensive unit, which has not allowed a team to score more than 10 points this season, will be put to the test today at 7 p.m. when they play host to arguably the most explosive offensive team in the state in Calvary Baptist.
“We are all really excited about this game,” Dupre’ said. “It’s going to be a real challenge and a great experience for us. We’re viewing this game as the perfect test for us.”
Although the Rebels have prided themselves thus far in forcing teams out of their comfort zone, throwing the football and running to the outside won’t be a problem for the Class 2A No. 2-ranked Cavaliers.
“Forcing teams to pass or to run to the outside won’t matter this week because we’re playing Calvary,” Doherty said laughing. “They love to throw it and they don’t mind running to the outside.”
In fact, it’s the Cavaliers’ ability to run the football that has made their offense even more difficult to defend.
“Calvary has always done a great job of throwing the football,” Doherty said. “Their coaches do a great job of coaching and I think they have something like seven or eight college prospects if not more. You always knew they could throw the football, but the scariest thing about Calvary is that they can run it and run it very well. You can no longer just drop eight people back on defense all of the time to play the pass, because they have running backs that can run the football.”
How good are the Cavaliers? Well, they are 3-0 overall, averaging just under 43 points per game and scored 40 points against Class 5A power West Monroe en route to a 40-29 victory.
“They are averaging more than 40 points per game and all three of their wins have come against Class 5A schools,” Doherty said. “I mean, they beat West Monroe. Beating West Monroe is comparable to beating Alabama in college.”
If the Rebels are going to be successful against the Cavaliers, the key according to Dupre’ and Doherty is minimizing the number of big plays Calvary connects on.
“Calvary is a big-play offense,” Doherty said. “They peck away at you with short passes and the running game and then they go for the big play. They are a big play team, so we have to make sure that we force them to earn everything they get. We’re not going to shut them out. We know that going in, but we have to slow them down. It has to be a game where they don’t score every time they have the football and we do.”
Fully aware of the caliber of the offense they are going to face, Doherty stated the Rebels need to almost have a “bend but not break” approach to the game.
“You really don’t want to bend,” Doherty said. “But against a team like Calvary you are going to bend, so you just don’t want to break.”
Follow assistant sports editor Eric Narcisse on Twitter @tdanarcisse.