This spring, El Dorado’s defense switched from a 3-3-5 to a more traditional 3-4 scheme. The Wildcats were punished by power run teams last season. Coach Steven Jones hopes the front seven will be a lot more stout against those same rushing attacks with the new look.
El Dorado’s defense finished the spring with an outstanding effort in the spring game at Memorial Stadium.
“The defensive line, Damarian Rester, Ahymaus Young and Takoi Steward were very physical up front. They gave our (offensive) line problems. The linebacking corps was flying around making plays,” said Jones.
“I’ve talked about (Mario) Ganter and (Bryson) Boulden all spring. You’ve got Marquees Waller at safety. A couple different guys back there at safety that stood out throughout the spring - Rykel Williams, Marquees Waller. PJ Denkins has filled in some spots. That entire unit has been impressive.”
El Dorado returned all three starting linebackers from last year’s team. The senior trio of Patrick Sixbey, Jyrin Steward and Javin Steward has been joined by Danquez Shelton in this year’s alignment.
“I think the defense has just made a pretty big leap from last year,” Jones said. “Coach (DeAnthony) Curtis made a comment when we took the field about our linebackers. Just looking at them physically, they look so much different. Patrick Sixbey, Jyrin Steward, Javin Steward, Danquez Shelton, there’s some very physical linebackers out there that are lighting people up. They’re flying around and throwing their bodies around and hitting, making contact. They just look different.”
Overall, the 3-4 scheme could be better suited for El Dorado’s personnel. It should be a more consistent base in the 6A East, which has more of a power running feel than the Wildcats’ previous home in the West.
“It’s a more traditional look for sure,” said Jones. “We’re probably being more aggressive with the defensive line with movement. We feel like we have some pretty athletic guys at those spots. They’re really not being asked to stay locked on a tackle. They’re getting into some gaps and really causing some trouble for the offensive line. They’re slanting, stunting and there are some athletic bodies out there to do that. That’s been a plus for us this spring and then the physicality at linebacker. That gets everything right. When those defensive linemen get moving and those linebackers can fly around and make some plays.”