Wall's Defense Gets Much Needed Lift Entering District Play
WALL, TX-- Through their first two games of the season, the Wall Hawk defense had trouble getting traction.
After their games against Class 2A favorite Mason and Midland Christian, the Hawks were allowing 31 points per game. The Hawk defense was also allowing an average of 390.5 yards per game.
However, it wasn’t entirely the defense’s fault.
Entering the 2018 season, the Hawks knew they were going to have to navigate some growing pains with an offense that returned just one starter.
That was evident in the first half against Mason when the Hawks were shut out. Mason’s potent offense was constantly on the field while Wall’s offense struggled to sustain a drive. That wore out Wall’s defense. The offense picked it up in the second half and the Hawks nearly came back for a win.
In their 35-34 loss to Midland Christian in week 3, it was much of the same.
The offense struggled to stay on the field in the first half and Midland Christian wore out Wall’s defense for a 28-7 lead at the half. The offense figured it out in the second half and once again had a chance to win it.
“I think that’s the key for us to be successful, to not leave our defense out there more than half the game,” said Wall head coach Houston Guy. “We try to be a ball control offense. At times in the beginning of the season, we were struggling with that. I think as the season has progressed, we’ve gotten better at that. We haven’t left them out there.”
Heading into district play, the Hawks are playing “from the front,” as second year defensive coordinator Craig Slaughter said.
In their last two games, against a high-powered Sonora team and Class 4A Big Spring, the Hawks are allowing just 16 points per game and 238.5 yards of total offense.
That is directly tied to the Hawks’ veer offense finding traction over the last two weeks.
Through the first two games, the Hawks rode on the back of senior Sutton Braden and arm of junior Mason Fuchs. The Hawks seemingly passed more in their first two games than they did in all of last season, an uncharacteristic trait for Wall.
Over the last two weeks, though, names like sophomores Kye Herbert and Chase Rios and senior Mason Kindle have stepped up to give the Hawks a dynamic backfield.
“It’s kind of one of those things you worry about coming into the season with young guys playing those roles,” Guy said. “They’ve stepped up and they’ve played lights out.”
The offense’s production has allowed the Hawk defense to play aggressive and free like Slaughter wants.
“It’s a totally different mentality when you’re playing from the front,” Slaughter emphasized. “You still want to get stops and things, but its not like...it’s a lot more of a care-free mentality and we know we can make it happen.”
The Hawk defense has also been helped out by continuity in Slaughter’s second year directing the defense.
“It’s year two,” Slaughter smiled. “It’s just like our offense who has done the same thing for so long. It’s the exact same thing we did last year. It’s the same calls and terminology. It’s definitely easier in year two.”
The Hawks defense, led by senior defensive end Gage Weishuhn, also love that continuity and playing free under Slaughter.
“He just keeps us fired up throughout the game,” Weishuhn said. “He makes great calls and we execute them well...That helps us a bunch.”
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