Last week, the Jefferson City Jays had the task of slowing down a Battle Spartans team that averages nearly 40 points per game.
They certainly completed that task, holding the Spartans to their second-lowest points total of the season at 14.
"I think it's probably one of our better defensive efforts," Jays coach Terry Walker said. "Each week we continue to improve. Obviously we'll make no excuses, but we've played against some pretty good offenses. We're going to have ups and downs when that occurs until your kids get really fundamentally sound."
Tonight, the focus shifts to the Jays' offense. Rockhurst, which has recorded three shutouts this season, hosts the Jays at 7 p.m. tonight.
"They're not going to beat themselves by getting out of position," Walker said. "You're going to have to earn what you get. They look like every other Rockhurst defense that I've seen over the last 30 years."
The latest shutout for the Hawklets (6-2) was two weeks ago against Battle. In their six wins, the Hawklets have only allowed 30 points total.
Rock Bridge put up 33 points against Rockhurst in Week 1. C.B.C., the top-ranked team in Class 6, scored 45 in a blowout victory last week to hand Rockhurst its second loss of the season.The Hawklets may not be the most physically imposing defense at first glance, but they certainly get the job done. Defensive tackle Tim Glaser might bring the most size to the defensive front at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds.
"Their defensive line is not as big as some of the defensive lines we've seen, but they move really well," Walker said. "They do a good job at using their hands and they do a good job of understanding how to create leverage and power with their body position, so they are a very good defense. They chase the football well, they understand the defensive scheme they are trying to execute and they do a good job at it."
Rockhurst, the fourth-ranked team in Class 6, puts its size on the offensive front.
"There's not any teams we play against where the offensive line is not bigger than we are," Walker said. "Again, size, sometimes it matters sometimes it doesn't. It kind of depends upon if the kid knows how to use his size to his advantage. Does he understand how to put his body angle in a good position to create some leverage and push? Some kids do and some kids don't, but it's going to be a challenge, there's no doubt about that. They're not ranked the No. 4 team in the state for no reason."
Leading the group in the trenches is senior tackle Danielson Ike, who is listed at 6-7, 340 pounds. Ike has 14 offers to play Division I football, including from Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan and Iowa State to name a few.
"We've seen him on film and he's probably their biggest kid, but they've got some other bigger guys that are going to be on the offensive line," Walker said. "We know that going in, so it just kind of is what it is."
Rockhurst's big offensive front will try to create lanes for running back Michael Johnson.
"They are pretty simple," Walker said. "They're pulling trap, they do some gap schemes where they are blocking guys down and pulling guys around, and that's probably their primary block scheme I would say. We haven't seen them do a bunch of zone blocking, but they are effective in what they do and they're simple with what they do.
"Most teams have a really good idea what they are going to do, but you still have to come out and stop it. And that's where a lot of teams don't have success because it's one thing to know what they are going to do, it's another thing to stop it because they are so fundamentally sound."
So the plan defensively against the Hawklets is also simple: force quarterback Luke Boehmthem to pass.
"They have the ability to throw the football, but I think what we need to try to do is figure out how to make them throw the football," Walker said. "They are going to want to run the football and control the football game and we've got to figure out a way to take them out of that."
If the Jays can accomplish that and win for the second straight week, they'll get to enjoy another relaxed Saturday morning in the film room.
"The kids kind of know if we don't really perform to expectations, we're going to come out and take the opportunity to correct some things on Saturday morning on the practice field," Walker said. "This Saturday we watched film and ate donuts. Hopefully they'll want to do that this Saturday."
Jefferson City will have to head on the road next week to begin district play, but the Jays do have a chance to improve their position tonight.
The Jays are less than two points behind Fort Zumwalt West for fifth in the Class 6 District 2 standings.
Blue Springs South is nearly five points behind the Jays in seventh and play eighth-ranked Lee's Summit North tonight.
Francis Howell Central will be the No. 8 seed.
Francis Howell and Rock Bridge are only separated by 1.11 points at the top of the standings entering Week 9, and face each other tonight in St. Charles.
Troy-Buchanan and Blue Springs enter the final week of the regular season in third and fourth, respectively.