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.”