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Carroll’s defense continues to get to the ball

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at 7:27 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at 7:33 a.m.

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Mulvane’s Mason living up to expectations

Mulvane has been a pass-happy team for season after season, with its quarterbacks throwing for at least 1,600 regular-season yards since 2008. Quarterback Ty Redington threw for more than 2,000 yards in nine games in 2012.

While that hasn’t been the case this season — Mulvane has just over 600 passing yards — running back Michael Mason is making the most of the focus on the run game.

He has 1,518 rushing yards, a bright spot on a team that has battled injuries.

“I’ve watched him through middle school and grade school, the whole process of going through the Mulvane football program,” Mulvane coach Dave Fennewald said. “The thing he’s gotten better at is following blockers and accelerating through the hole.

“He runs well for his size, and he’d try to run people over. Now he’ll sit there and be a little patient, watch his holes develop and then he’ll accelerate through those holes.”

Mulvane (3-4 overall, 0-1 Class 4A-District 12) has battled injuries, losing 20 players for at least a game, and several for the whole season. There’s been a broken leg, a broken shoulder, concussions, ankle injuries.

“Injuries are a part of football, but I haven’t had this many in 27 years of coaching,” Fennewald said. “We two-platoon, but a lot of our backups are freshmen. They have played a little on Friday nights because of the situation we are in.”

Mason had an injured ankle in 2012, missing two games, but he hasn’t had such issues through seven games.

“He’s been healthy this year, and that’s been a key for us, as well,” Fennewald said.

North’s depth at running back

When North opened the season, the plan was to use Sean Bernard, Caleb Franklin and Kalen Elliott and pound the football at teams with its run game.

“We did not have any offensive success,” North coach Joe Belden said. “We attribute that to a variety of factors: we weren’t controlling the line of scrimmage, we had great opponents.”

And Elliott, Bernard and Franklin, also crucial defensively, got tired.

“It’s hard to condition somebody to run however many plays, 140, 150 plays in a game,” Belden said. “We started giving some other guys a look back there. Ray Robinson has had a couple good games and Jose McDonald, our kid from Puerto Rico, has had some good games.”

Belden said Robinson excels at making defenders miss, while McDonald runs in the hole well, with constantly churning legs.

By having two more quick, talented athletes, North (1-6, 1-0 in Class 6A-District 7) has more options to rely on.

Robinson and McDonald “are a nice complement to each other,” Belden said. “We can rotate the other kids in at fullback and keep them fresh.”

Independent moving up

Independent’s football field is moving a bit north.

While Independent’s new field is still on campus, it has finished installing artificial turf where it’s track has been.

The track isn’t done yet, but the turf is and the lights have been installed, so Independent can play host to Remington on Friday on the new field.

“There was a need for improvement,” Independent athletic director Keith Williams said. “The field was not in great shape, the track was not in good shape. We needed more space, needed an additional field. It was something in our athletic facility that was sorely needed.”

Joanna Chadwick

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Friday’s Wichita-area football schedule

Joanna Chadwick’s picks in bold

City League

Andover Central vs. West (at Northwest)

Derby vs. East (at South)

Goddard at Carroll

Northwest vs. North (at Heights)

South at Campus

Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League

Andover Central vs. West (at Northwest)

Augusta at Trinity Academy

Buhler at Cheney

Circle at El Dorado

Clearwater at Winfield

Collegiate at Rose Hill

Derby vs. East (at South)

Emporia at Andover

Goddard at Carroll

Hutchinson at Garden City

Liberal at Eisenhower

Maize at Dodge City

Maize South at Hesston

McPherson at Abilene

Mulvane at Wellington

Nickerson at Andale

Pratt at Ulysses

South at Campus

Valley Center at Newton

Central Plains League

Augusta at Trinity Academy

Belle Plaine at Douglass

Buhler at Cheney

Chaparral at Conway Springs

Garden Plain at Hutchinson Trinity

Medicine Lodge at Sublette

Remington at Independent

Sedgwick at Bluestem

Central Kansas League

Halstead at Moundridge

Hillsboro at Marion

Inman at Sterling

Kingman at Haven

Lyons at SE-Saline

Maize South at Hesston

Other area games

Caldwell vs. Argonia-Attica (at Argonia)

Canton-Galva at Little River

Eureka at Burlington

Flinthills at Centre

Garden Plain at Hutchinson Trinity

Halstead at Moundridge

Hillsboro at Marion

Inman at Sterling

Macksville at Pratt Skyline

Madison at Peabody-Burns

Medicine Lodge at Sublette

Oxford at Cedar Vale-Dexter

Pretty Prairie at Lincoln

Remington at Independent

Sedgwick at Bluestem

South Barber at Norwich

South Haven at Sedan

Southern Cloud at Burrton

Stafford at Cunningham

St. John at Fairfield

Udall at Central-Burden

White City at Goessel

Last week: 28-5 (84.8 percent). Overall: 169-33 (83.7).

Bishop Carroll senior Nate Stallbaumer understands the high standard for the Eagles’ defense, which he recognized well before entering high school. Then, as a sophomore, he was introduced to the Gang Green defense and how Carroll expects it to be run.

“We have our little defensive drill where everyone runs together and, break down. But physically and mentally, that’s what we’re trying to do — get to the ball, fulfill the Gang Green requirements,” he said.

“The coaches always stress flying to the ball.… It’s everyone getting to the ball. The coaches get on us, especially in practice if we’re slacking or if we’re walking around on the back side. They want us to try and get there and make the play.”

Carroll’s defense has been one of the City League’s best during coach Alan Schuckman’s 18 seasons, and it is no different now. While the offense stumbled at times early on, the defense has been consistent as it helped Carroll (7-0) stretch its winning streak to 20 games.

“It’s a pretty simple philosophy,” said Schuckman, whose team is ranked first in Class 5A. “We have 11 guys out there and we say play fast, get to the ball and be mad when you get there.”

The Eagles have given up 74 points in seven games.

Nose guard Nick Nolting has a team-high 42 tackles with 21 for loss and five sacks. Six teammates also have nine or more tackles for loss, and Hank Honas has five sacks.

Schuckman said the focus is on stopping the run, not giving up the big play and tackles for loss.

“The last is to create a lot of lost-yardage plays,” Schuckman said. “We have done a lot of that. When you do that, you put offenses in uncomfortable situations. When you’re second and long, third and long, you become a lot more predictable, and it makes it tougher on the offense.”

The size of Carroll’s defensive players has increased, too. In 2010 when the Eagles lost to Blue Valley in the 5A title game, they had one player over 200 pounds while Blue Valley had one player under 200.

Now there’s six Carroll defensive players weighing more than 200, and with that increased weight and strength, the Eagles are better able to match up with offensive linemen.

The defensive line has been the spark for Carroll. The Eagles use five players — Nolting, Stallbaumer, Patric Dugan, Braden Hallacy and Honas — and have no problem moving players from one position to another.

“Dugan’s kind of the glue to the whole piece,” Schuckman said. “We move him around. He’ll play five-tech, play three-tech, and they’ve all been willing to give up something to get something. Meaning, they’ve really bought into us being able to move them around where people can’t get a feel where this guy is here so this is coming. It’s about keeping the offense off balance.”

Reach Joanna Chadwick at 316-268-6270 or jchadwick@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachadwick.

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