Youth in revolt for WHS defense
Published 5:51 pm Friday, August 19, 2011
There is a youth movement taking place on the defensive side of the ball for Washington and sixth-year defensive coordinator John Blank is leading the revolution.
The Pam Pack, which finished 5-7 last season, brings back only three starters from last year’s team, which means this year’s group might be as green as the grass it plays on. However, Blank is extremely excited by the unit’s potential not only this year, but down the road.
“It’s a young defense but they are picking up things very quickly,” Blank said. “Sometimes you need a fresh start with a new group and with the youth in this group we feel like we can develop them into another great defense.”
As of now, the unit is showing all the right signs.
“I think our youth is actually to our advantage here, we don’t have to un-teach a lot of bad habits,” Blank said. “I feel like these guys are hungry, they’re forming a pretty good bond right now and they’re starting to trust each other. When you add those elements together that makes for a very good defense, and now it just becomes a matter of execution.”
The defense will be led by hard-hitting junior middle linebacker Jacquez Columbs who was a WDN all-area second-teamer a year ago, along with outside linebacker Quashon Davis and safety Pernell Razor.
Blank said he relies on Columbus to be the coach on the field and provide an intimidating presence.
“Columbus is our huddle-caller, he’s our leader and he’s the guy who I’m going to look to depend on to get things right on the field. He’s probably one of the best hitters I’ve coached in all my years of coaching,” Blank said.
Of the several talented young players, Blank praised the effort of his two defensive ends, which in his 4-3 zone defense, will play a vital role for the Pam Pack.
“We really like both of our defensive ends. We like Riley Dunbar on the strongside and Tarahjae Burke on the weakside,” Blank said. “We like them because they play important positions for us and we feel like we have to have the best possible guys for those two spots. In our defense, our success and failure begins and ends at that position in my opinion.”
With a new defense on the field, Blank has taken a new approach to guiding this year’s group and it’s one that he feels will lead to better results on the field.
“I feel like last year I threw the whole playbook at our defense by Week 1. We tried to do too much every week, plus I ended up never having the same 11 on the field for any week last year,” Blank said. “So, I have tried to simplify things and teach a little bit more sound football play, and then let the plays develop. We’ll still go with zone blitzes and cross our linemen and we’re still going to have some big time blitz packages, but we’ll be a little more selective each week instead of trying to throw the whole playbook at them.”