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El Dorado defense steps up against Wolves

by Tony Burns | November 21, 2021 at 6:29 p.m.

 Friday’s quarterfinal match-up at Memorial Stadium was supposed to be an offensive shootout. But someone forgot to tell El Dorado’s defense it wasn’t invited to the game.

The Wildcats slowed down Lake Hamilton’s powerhouse offense in a 48-27 victory. The Wolves scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter after the outcome had been decided.

“I think our guys played phenomenal. I think the word ‘dominant’ does a good job of describing how they played,” said El Dorado defensive coordinator Trey Outlaw. “Gave up one touchdown right before half. That was the last touchdown they scored until garbage time hit.”

The Wildcats will host Marion in the semifinals on Friday. 

The Wolves entered last week’s game with one of the state’s top rushing attacks, behind an offensive line averaging close to 280 pounds. 

El Dorado countered, using a 5-4 defensive alignment. Outlaw inserted Josh Hill and Trey Cook into the defensive line as first-time starters.

“Both of those guys played well. We knew we had a big challenge ahead of us. They average around 280 or 290 across the board, two guys with D-1 scholarships on the (offensive) line,” Outlaw said. “Our biggest guy is Takoi Steward, who’s 250 and we’re playing with Ahmayus (Young) at 230 and our little guy, Damarian (Rester) is all the way down to 210, now. Somebody’s has to feed him a sandwich or something.

“Size is something we lack but speed is not. We used our speed.”

The Wildcats recorded 11 tackles behind Lake Hamilton’s line of scrimmage, including nine by the linebackers.

Jyrin Steward led the team with 11.5 tackles, including two tackles for loss. Safety Marquees Waller had 7.5 tackles. Patrick Sixbey had 6.5 tackles with one tackle for loss. Danquez Shelton had six tackles, including three tackles for loss. Jordan Ford had 5.5 tackles. Hill had four solo tackles and Rester had 3.5 tackles, with one tackle for loss.

El Dorado identified the Wolves’ Justin Crutchmer as the player to watch at both running back and receiver. Crutchmer finished with 83 yards rushing but 64 of those came on the last three carries of the game against reserves. At one point, El Dorado held him to 19 yards on 10 attempts.

“The kid I want to really praise is Damarian Rester. His job this week, he played that trey role away from (Crutchmer), the area they run him to,” said Outlaw. “He covered the tight end some but his big thing was to take away the C and D gap. Obviously, he did that with holding that really good running back to negative yards. He had some (tackles for loss) and had some decent tackle numbers. But it does not show the selflessness he showed out there by taking on two or three blockers, which allowed linebackers to be unblocked to make tackles for loss. If we don’t have that, we’re in trouble. Damarian Rester had, what I want to say is probably the best game of his career.”

Another key defensive adjustment was the Wolves’ double handoff play, which acted as an inside reverse. Kendrick Martin had a 26-yard run and then a 14 and 12-yard run on the play. He was held to 26 yards the rest of the game.

“Our guys want to make a tackle. It’s a race to make the tackle. That’s an awesome thing. But, whenever you have guys who run to the ball like that, you tend to be susceptible to reverses like they ran (Friday),” said Outlaw. “After the first series, we pulled Danquez and Jyrin and Javin and Patrick and basically told them, if you have flow away from you, sit and stay at home and expect the ball to come back. That takes a real maturity on the kid to not want to chase the ball because it’s no fun watching. Really good job on those guys showing maturity and patience.”

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