Posted: 3:03 am Saturday, September 3rd, 2011
By Jeff Greer
OK, Seminole Ridge fans, I admit it. We don’t write about the defense enough.
After holding Treasure Coast to 14 points in the spring, Hollywood Hills to six last week and Palm Beach Central to six this week, it’s time to fess up. When you’re a football dork like me, you spend a lot of time reading about formations and schemes and X’s and O’s and you forget there are few things quite like football defense. As Seminole Ridge assistant head coach Justin Hilliker reminded me over the winter of the old saying, “Forget the X’s and O’s, it’s about Johnnys and Joes.”
That couldn’t be more true for the defensive side of the ball. Because you can line up however you want — 3-4, 4-3, 4-4, 4-whatever — defense comes down to doing your job and overpowering your opponent. It’s about having players who not only know the schemes and where they should be, but then they follow through on their assignments. That’s exactly what Seminole Ridge did on the defensive side of the ball in Friday night’s ugly 21-6 win over Palm Beach Central.
1. When they needed it most … the defense was there. By all accounts, Palm Beach Central had the momentum in the first half against Seminole Ridge. I don’t want to say dominated because Ridge had a scoring drive and led 7-6 at the break, but it felt like Central was up 14-0. At least to me.
Here’s Central’s drive chart from the first three possessions:
1. Seven plays, 23 yards, PUNT
2. Five plays, 35 yards, FIELD GOAL
3. Eleven plays, 65 yards, FIELD GOAL
Even when the Broncos punted, they moved the ball on Seminole Ridge’s 3-4 front (Yeah, I promised I’d limit myself to one formation reference. That’s the only one. I think.) Ray Wilson ran eight times for 67 yards in those three series. Quarterback Brock Bukowski had three scrambles for 21 yards. Central converted five first downs and even picked up a fresh set of downs on fourth-and-6.
“Central’s tough — they did some things to hurt us,” Seminole Ridge coach Matt Dickmann said. “They were … from 20-to-20 (dominating the game). We were blowing coverages. Their quarterback did a nice job scrambling. He was their MVP in the first half. He was killing us. I don’t know how many times they got a first down on third down. You can’t do that. Good football teams can’t give up third-and-10s. That’s gotta be fixed.”
All things considered, it’s safe to say that was fixed at some point in the first half. Both field goals were created by big plays — a 27-yard pass from Brock Bukowski to Tommy McDonald on the first scoring drive, a 37-yard run by Ray Wilson on the second. But both drives were as promising as any for Central all night, and they yielded six points. With a running back like Gary Holmes on the sideline, the defense knows the offense will almost certainly get a touchdown or even two. So, the Seminole Ridge D bent … but it didn’t break.
Three Central red-zone trips: six points and a fumble. Not bad. After the third-quarter fumble right around the Seminole Ridge 20, Central never escaped midfield again. In other words, if that’s a bad night, I’m not sure many opponents want to see a good night. (Side note: Is it weird that I hear “red zone” and immediately think of sitting in front of a massive TV on Sunday afternoons watching eleventy billion football games on 38 channels? Yes, this is a Red Zone Channel reference. Is this what football watching has done to a fan?)
2. Sloppy, though, yes. Dickmann wasn’t thrilled about his team’s performance. Neither was Holmes, one of the team leaders. Seminole Ridge prides itself on executing, sticking to assignments and making smart plays. There were plenty of missed chances tonight, especially in the passing game. But beyond the regular eye that you and I have, Dickmann said there were simple things that — if done correctly — could have brought about much bigger results than we saw in the crowd.
“You take our first two games, the way we’ve played, you’d never know it after tonight,” Dickmann said. “We made more mistakes today than those two games combined. It’s just sloppy …
“We made a few adjustments and we missed a couple blocks on the adjustments. On one play, Gary, there was one block on the inside. If (the blocker for Holmes) had gotten the linebacker, the play was there. You know on the sideline what’s missing on that play. It’s got to be 11 guys working together. Right now, it’s eight or nine guys. Eight or nine won’t beat 11 working together.”
3. A missed opportunity for Central. Give Seminole Ridge credit — the Hawks played poorly for, oh, 16 minutes or so. In that span, they fell behind 6-0. It should’ve been a bigger deficit. Central had its chances.
Bukowski-to-McDonald set up first-and-10 at the Ridge 14. Wilson went 8, then 1, then minus-1. Field goal. Wilson went 37 yards on the next drive into Ridge territory. Central chipped away, and then Bukowski ambled 14 yards to the Ridge 12. Then Wilson went 3, incomplete pass, Bukowski lost 1, field goal. In my head, I imagined a car that suddenly wouldn’t start.
“We’re on the road playing a phenomenal Seminole Ridge team, when you’re on the road and you have opportunities, you have to take advantage of them,” Central coach Rod Harris said. “And if you don’t, they come back to haunt you, and they came back to haunt us tonight.”
4. Stats you won’t see in the paper.Central was 3-for-12 on third downs Friday night. Seminole Ridge was 3-for-10. Ridge got 14 first downs in all, Central got 10. How’d they get them? Central got seven on the ground, three in the air; Ridge got six by pass, eight by rush.
5. Game MVPs: Ray Wilson (15 carries, 98 yards, 6.5 yards per carry, two receptions 33 yards) and Cameron Golob (2-for-2 on field-goal attempts) for Palm Beach Central. For Seminole Ridge, Gary Holmes (23 carries, 135 yards, two touchdowns, 5.9 yards a carry, one catch, 11 yards) and Darian Williams (three catches, 62 yards, 20.7 yards a catch).