In Topping they trustPublished 6:47pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
So far this season Karim Topping has racked up team-high 59 tackles and nine QB hurries, but if you need further proof of the Washington outside linebacker’s growth during his senior year all you have to do is look at his momentum-changing interception against Riverside.
The Pam Pack emerged from halftime holding a slim 13-6 lead over the Knights, but had fumbled at the Riverside 35-yard line on its opening possession of the second half, squandering what appeared to quality scoring opportunity.
However, on the Knights first play, Topping alertly sniffed out a pass, then showed off his athletic ability by intercepting the ball and returning it to the Riverside 45-yard line.
One play later running back Markel Spencer raced down field for a touchdown and a 20-6 lead.
The interception sparked a string of 34 unanswered points and was cited by Riverside coach Asim McGill as the pivotal play of the game.
To the fans, Topping’s pick looked like just another standout play, but to the coaching staff it was another example how his dedication to preparation has paid off.
“(Defensive coordinator Jon Blank) called a blitz on that play but I looked at him and shook my head ‘no’,” Topping said. “I saw exactly what they wanted to do. (The wide receiver) did an up-down (before the play) and that caught my attention because we talked during the week and said if we see him do an up-down that means he’s going out for a route.
“So I saw him do it and I just dropped back in coverage and (the quarterback) threw it right to me.”
Shaking off a coach’s call can be a risky proposition for a high school player, but when it comes to Topping, both Blank and head coach Sport Sawyer said that he has earned their trust.
“With him being a three-year starter he really understands the game,” Blank said. “He watches a lot of film and we engage in pretty sophisticated football conversations. He totally understands what offenses are going to do, what formations they’re going to do to and what receivers are going to try to do to you. He gets where he needs to be just about every play.”
Though he stands at roughly 5-8, 155 pounds, which is small in the world of linebackers, Blank is able to utilize Topping in a number of roles because of his incredible instincts and physicality.
“I use him in all aspects,” Blank said. “He’s probably my best blitzer. He does a great job of firing off the ball. He’s got a quick start so he’s usually able to beat blocks. He’s excellent against the run because he uses that leverage to get under blocks, and then in coverage I’m able to use him in man sometimes.”
Topping excels on Friday nights because of all the effort he puts in during the week.
“He goes hard and he wants to win, that’s the biggest thing and a lot of guys feed off of that,” Sawyer said. “We trust him. In football you have to trust the 11 players you put on the field and he’s one of those defensive guys we trust whole heartedly.”
On Friday night the Pam Pack (4-2) will play its Eastern Plains Conference opener at home against Farmville Central and the Pam Pack senior is well aware that the clock is ticking on his high school career. With that in mind, Topping said his goal is to keep winning until there are no more games to be won.
“I do not want to lose any more games. We can’t lose any more games,” Topping said. “We just have to come out and play hard, stay focused and just go hard.”