PATASKALA — Zach Jenkins is receiving a lot more attention this season.
That is what happens when opponents notice junior changing to senior beside a player’s name. Jenkins also lost his partner in crime — the graduated Nathan Miller — on the Watkins Memorial defensive line.
“Zach Jenkins has been a stalwart on that defensive line,” coach Jeff Severino said. “He has worked hard in that weight room and seems to control the side that he’s on. I can see a lot of teams trying to run away from him just to keep him in check.”
Jenkins is an anchor for a Watkins defense that has scored more touchdowns (4) than it has allowed (3) during the first three weeks. The challenge, however, becomes far greater Friday when the Warriors encounter Johnstown’s power-running game.
“We always have to keep playing hard, stay physical and don’t give up,” Jenkins said. “Even if we get tired, just keep hitting them.”
Jenkins and Miller wreaked havoc up front a season ago as teams were unable to keep them out of the backfield. A defense that was gashed by just two of 11 opponents had no weak links, but no question it started front and center with its defensive tackles.
Junior Kyle Clark is doing his best to play a supporting role for Jenkins after he stepped up to become the lead actor.
“This is his first year playing defense, and he is getting a lot better every week,” Jenkins said.
A luxury the Watkins coaching staff had a season ago was the ability to ride a talented defense through some grueling games. The Warriors have not been tested as of yet, and their depth soon could show.
“We are trying to fill that spot with Clark, and he’s doing a good job but he’s only 195 or 200 pounds,” Severino said. “We are probably going to have two or three more people rotate in there to keep the heat off Zach.”
The defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense against Mifflin. Corey Hare picked up a fumble, and Bobby Broomfield and Cameron Johnson returned interception for scores.
Can the Warriors duplicate the big plays in a hard-fought game? For the first time, they will have to do it in the third and fourth quarters Friday.
Severino is eager to see what they have in store.
“Whether it’s a fourth-and-1 for Johnstown or a fourth-and-1 for us, how are we prepared to counter what they are going to do to us?” Severino said. “We are excited about that to see how it is going to play out.”
Aug. 28: Watkins 52, Whetstone 13
Sept. 4: Watkins 59, East Elgin 16
Sept. 11: Watkins 45, @Mifflin 0
Sept. 18: @Johnstown, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: Utica, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2: @Licking Heights, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: @Granville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22: Licking Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31: @Newark Catholic, 7 p.m.