WEST — It could be considered the cliche sports saying, but after the performance the West Trojans put together, it is a decisive statement of fact.
Defense wins championships.
In a game many thought would come down to the wire, and with the District 9-3A Div. I title on the line, the West defense made sure Teague trailed the entire game as the Trojans topped the Lions 33-10 Friday night in West.
“You know, defensively we were solid with everybody out there,” West head coach David Woodard said. “Those front guys controlled the run, and those back guys made plays when they had opportunities back there. We talked this week, as our kids practiced, of how well they practiced, how they flew to the football and how we were able to do things. Just, man, their effort on defense was tremendous tonight.”
That West defense kept Teague off balance all night long. With just over five minutes left to play, the Lions had less than 80 yards of total offense. A big factor in that number came from a terrible snap on 3rd-and-5 at the Teague 29-yard line that moved the Lions 21 yards backwards and only eight yards outside their own end zone.
The Trojan defensive front gave Teague quarterback Zack Satterwhite and the Lion running back fits all night long. Satterwhite didn’t have much time at all to make his reads. More often than not, the Teague running backs were held to five yards or fewer.
Teague’s longest run of the night came with 5:10 remaining in the fourth quarter when Azaya Patrick busted through up the middle for the 43-yard score. It was the Lions’ lone touchdown on the night as their other two points came when Nemier Herod snatched up a fumbled snap on a West PAT and carried it all the way to Teague’s end zone.
If it wasn’t the front seven causing all kinds of problems for Teague, the secondary wasn’t giving up anything either.
West’s Tyler Kaluza nearly had an interception on Teague’s third play from scrimmage. He got one a few minutes later though, as he jumped around and picked off Satterwhite’s pass to a waiting receiver less than two minutes into the game.
Guillermo Acevedo got his hands on one with just over four minutes left into half time as he picked of Satterwhite on the Teague 30-yard line and took it all the way into the end zone for the pick-six.
West would get one more interception on the night as Nathan Gerik showed off his chops as he leapt into the air to snag a high-flying pass on the Lions’ 38-yard line.
“Here lately we’ve been playing really good defense,” Woodard said. “Early in the year we had so many kids who were either in new positions or hadn’t played defense. It’s taken those guys a while to understand what we’re asking on defense. We ask a lot of them on defense. We do a ton of stuff over there. Those guys are figuring it out the last couple of weeks. We’re really, really proud of those guys, and they take tremendous pride in what they do.”
While West played solid defensively, the offense went to work early and often. It all started with Preston Johnson who had quite a day on Friday. After receiving the Built Ford Tough Player of the Week award at the pep rally earlier in the afternoon and participating in senior day pregame festivities, Johnson took the opening kickoff 85 yards to give West a lead it would never relinquish merely 15 minutes into the ball game.
“It’s every week,” Woodard said. “What he does on Friday is a testament of what he does Monday through Thursday. He practices hard and understands everything and takes care of business in the weight room. It leads to a great performance on Friday night. So proud of his effort and his leadership of what he does to his teammates and how he brings those guys along as well.”
When it wasn’t Johnson barreling for rush yards on the ground, it was Gerik continuing to do what Gerik does as the Trojan quarterback. He was the perfect complement to what Johnson does on the ground as Gerik can also pound the ball but also connect to a bevy of talented receivers.
“They’re big parts, but they’ll be the first ones to tell you it’s a total team effort,” Woodard said. “What those guys do each and every day is tremendous. I’m just proud of everybody tonight.”
As West took a knee for the postgame huddle, one of the assistant coaches told them how proud of them he was. And then he pointed to the stands, telling the players that the people cheering them on from the stands are just as proud.
After Woodard said a few words, the team huddled up and broke it out to, “DC.”
“It (means) a lot,” Woodard said. “It gets us some momentum as we go in (to the playoffs). We played a little bit better than we have the last couple of weeks. Off week was good to us last week. It gives confidence and a little bit of momentum.”