Buhach football gets defensive

Sjansen@mercedsunstar.comOctober 7, 2012 

— Most people expected a shootout when Pitman and Buhach Colony squared off on Friday night.

Why not?

Both football teams can put points on the scoreboard faster than gas prices can rise.

You usually have to have a calculator ready to add up all the yards and points when the Pride and Thunder take the field.

That wasn't the case on Friday night.

Instead, the Thunder (1-0 Central California Conference, 4-2 overall) put on a defensive show, holding Pitman to just one touchdown in a 28-7 win.

Buhach Colony head coach Kevin Swartwood and his coaching staff weren't surprised.

"I think our defensive coaches -- Kevin Navarra and his guys -- had a really good plan," Swartwood said. "They had two weeks to implement it and the kids bought into it.

"We worked really hard three days during the bye week and all last week. You could see the defense getting better. I even commented to them after practice. We told them they're going to be a big part of the game on Friday night."

Swartwood wasn't kidding.

The Thunder were fast, physical and relentless in slowing down the Pride's Wing-T attack. It seemed like there were two or three Buhach defenders there to make the tackle on every play.

"Two or three or sometimes even more than that," Thunder linebacker Steven Strasser said. "All week we studied film and all their formations. A big part of our success was we all pursued to the ball."

Usually it's the Buhach Colony offense leading the way as it picks up big chunks of yards on the ground.

Against Pitman the Thunder proved they can win with defense as they took a 6-0 lead into the half before the offense got on track in the second half.

"Our defense has played hard all year, but we've given up some points and yards," Swartwood said. "Looking up at the zero on the scoreboard at half was huge for us. Our guys were really fired up."

Thunder defenders Kevin Kelleher and Justin Stefani did a great job of occupying offensive linemen to free up linebackers to make tackles.

Strasser and fellow linebackers Tyson Coffey and Cesar Sotelo seemed to be everywhere on the field.

When players like Joe Marquez went down, there were players like Cody McWilliams who stepped up and filled in.

"When we talked to the kids we talked about playing hard on every down," Swartwood said. "It's easy to make that a talking point, but we have to play aggressive and fast on every down. Clovis North taught us a lesson. They showed us how it looks and feels. I felt we were getting better."

It's definitely a performance that will catch the rest of the CCC's attention.

If there was a crack in the Thunder armor it was that the defense was giving up over 26 points per game, including 36 or more points in three games.

If Buhach Colony can get this type of performance from its defense each week to complement its high-powered offense a third straight conference title and long playoff run could be in the Thunder's future.

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