WIAA football: Jets' defense continues to be stout

WIAA football: Jets' defense continues to be stout

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WIAA football: Jets' defense continues to be stout

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While the offense might get the headlines, it’s been the Roncalli defense which has been the backbone of the Jets’ undefeated season.

No. 1 Roncalli (12-0) plays No. 3 Platteville (8-4) tonight in Watertown in the WIAA State Football Division 4 semifinal with a trip to Madison and the state championship on the line and if the last dozen games have been any indication, the defense will be ready.

The Jets’ defense, the brainchild of defensive coordinator Scott Senglaub, has pitched five shutouts, one short of tying the school record, and held opponents to seven or fewer points in five more meaning it doesn’t take much from the offense to ensure a win.

“It’s a great luxury to have coordinators like Scott,” said Roncalli coach Ray Baranczyk. “We’ve been together for so long I can go off someplace else in practice and know we’re not missing a beat.”

Senglaub prefers using a 4-4 defense, with four linemen, four linebackers, two corners and a safety, with an emphasis on attacking using blitzers.

“I’m a person who likes to blitz, if possible,” Senglaub said. “But if the offenses don’t allow it because we need to be more assignment sure then we don’t blitz.”

More often than not, though, the Jets have been able to blitz due to the level of experience the players have with Senglaub’s system.

“We were very fortunate to have a lot of returners, a lot of experience,” Senglaub added. “We were able to expand off our basic defense to give different adjustments..small little things the kids can pick up much quicker because they’ve been doing this for two, three years now.”

There’s a lot of thought which goes into game planing for Senglaub and his players throughout the week.

“I like to find tendencies,” Senglaub said when asked what he looks for when studying an opponent,” (I look for) when they want to run, when they want to pass. Down and distance, personnel. If possible, we want to take out their favorite player or play on offense. We work really hard to take that out so the team has to do something else.”

When breaking down Platteville, Senglaub sees a lot of similarities between the Hillmen and the Jets opponent last week Freedom.

“I think (Platteville) is very similar to Freedom,” Senglaub said. “They run an I-form and want to blast the ball. They have a very good tailback (senior William Cooley) that they use a lot. He averages 25-30 carries a game. He’s obviously going to be a pinnacle point of us trying to stop their offense. They do throw the ball very well so we’ll have to be conscious to both the run and the pass this week.”

Senglaub will be looking to throw the Hillmen off balance by creating turnovers, something which he says is derived directly from blitzing and getting to the quarterback. The Jets have 35 sacks, according to WisSports.Net, which has helped limit opposing quarterbacks to a 42.1 completion percentage while throwing 14 interceptions compared to five touchdowns.

“That’s the key,” Senglaub says of getting to the quarterback in terms of creating interceptions. “We really try to stress getting to the quarterback, trying to get him in the backfield as much as possible. Try to make him make bad decisions.”

This type of attack-heavy defense could cause Platteville quarterback Logan Butson problems. Butson has thrown for 1,423 yards and 15 touchdowns, but has completed just 48.4 percent of his passes meaning he might not be able to handle the type of pressure coming his way.

If that happens tonight, Senglaub’s defense will have their sights on tying the school shutout record, with the hopes of breaking it Thursday in Madison and bringing a state title back to Manitowoc.

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