Scott Football Now Firmly in Heyday
One might safely say that the Scott Eagles are firmly in their football heyday.
Last season they logged only their second winning season in school history and this year they are off to a scorching hot start. In their two games this season, Scott has outscored their opponents 91-7. Their first game was an impressive 34-7 win over Holmes, followed by a 57-0 drubbing of Aiken (OH).
Friday, though, the Eagles host the Newport Wildcats in their home opener, and Scott head coach, Dan Woolley, knows it will be a serious challenge compared to what they've seen previously this year.
“This is a good chance to see where we are. I have a lot of respect for coach Matt Schmitz, he's done a good job kind of turning things around there and being a breath of fresh air. They're playing well and playing confident,” Woolley said of Newport.
A serious bright spot for the Eagles this season has been the team's defense, especially from strong safety, Deondre Pleasant, who has been a do-it-all player so far this year for Scott.
“Deondre Pleasant has been phenomenal for us on both sides of the ball,” said Woolley. “He's averaging like 40 yards a carry, it's ridiculous. He's already got three interceptions this year. He ran back a punt and playing strong safety he's got quite a few tackles too. He's also got two touchdowns on offense: a 92-yarder last week and a 54-yarder the week before that. I wouldn't call him a surprise because I know he is a great athlete but I am glad to see him playing to his potential.”
Pleasant's athleticism jumps out when watching the Eagles play. He's fast, can hit, has good hands and always seems involved in the play. His efforts, along with the other defensive players have thrilled their coach.
“I've been really pleased with our defense as a whole. They played very well against Holmes and pretty good last week. I knew we had some talent on offense, but the way the defense has played as a unit, we've only given up seven points so far, has been pleasantly surprising. They're keeping things in front of them and making teams earn what they get. We're playing a little smarter in the fact that we haven't given up big plays. We knew Holmes had the ability to make big plays at any time and we know that Newport does to. We don't want to give them anything free or easy, we want to make them work for it, so I think the defense as a whole has been the biggest thing that has jumped out at me.”
A major challenge in this week's match up with Newport is to limit the success on the ground by Wildcats running back, Dominic Joseph. With 195 yards on 30 carries so far this year, Joseph leads the offense in terms of production. He's a wide-bodied runner who generates a lot of momentum once he gets going.
“Out of all of the film we've seen, the key is going to be to try to stop him before he gets going. I think that's easier said than done, but I've seen him break three, four, five tackles on a run. He'll carry people with him and if you don't bring your A-game when you go to tackle him, he's definitely going to make you pay for it.”
Scott has some runners too. Their three-headed monster at running back has proven to be as explosive as Scott coaches had hoped would be the case in 2014. Along with Pleasant, Scott also features Roberto London and DaShon Lunsford at tailback. London has 224 yards and three rushing touchdowns in his first two games, and Lunsford has added two touchdown catches to his totals. The Eagles would like the trio to gash the Wildcat defense on big runs, but in their way is Newport nose tackle Breandon Johnson who is a giant in the middle of the defensive front.
“They've got some size,” Woolley said. “Johnson, the nose tackle, is one of the better defensive lineman in the area. He has the ability to dominate the game if he wants to, and he can. He's definitely someone to watch out for.”
The keys therefore for the Eagles seems to come down to explosive plays in the running game on offense, and good tackling to limit Joseph while on defense. If they can achieve these two goals on Friday night, they have a good chance to continue what is shaping up to be a story-book season for Scott football.
Written by Bryan Burke, Associate Editor
Photo: Scott touchdown/RCN file