48 hours to go, Lions fans. So close, but yet so far to that time of year….Football. The chance to do something that hasn’t been done in a generation…defend a title. It’s time to take a look at what fueled that run. Defense.
The defense appears to be the strength of Colby Carthel’s charges. They return nine starters, the most notable losses being defensive back Yusef Sterling-Lowe, and defensive coordinator Justin Deason.
And, much like the offensive side of the ball, the Lions have not only filled those holes, but appear to be set up to improve. That is a tall order, considering the 2017 Lions were arguably the best Division 2 defense in the playoffs, overcoming a 28-7 halftime deficit at Central Washington, and limiting Minnesota State-Mankato to 35 total yards in the second half.
How did they do it? First, a banner recruiting year, led by T’Kai Boyd from Allen, class 6A state champion and his district’s Defensive Player of the Year, defensive lineman Ryan McCoy, linebacker Rafael Carbajal, and defensive back Felipe Chambers.
The biggest score was yet to come. Colby Carthel pulled off his boldest move yet, hiring Scott Power from Central Washington University, the architect of the #1 ranked defense in all of Division 2. Power brings an aggressive, attacking style, reminiscent of Texas A&M’s Wrecking Crew defenses of the early to mid 90’s. Paired with the talent and speed that the Lions possess, they have the potential to be a Top 5 defense.
According to sources familiar with the work put in during the spring and fall camp, there have been the expected growing pains, not for lack of talent or knowledge, but of terminology. It is one of the toughest jobs an incoming coach has, getting all of the pieces to fit together, and as the saying goes, “get everyone on the same page.” As Fall Camp progressed, however, the defense has begun to jell and become a cohesive unit. Lion coaches have intentionally put the defense in a bad position at times to judge reaction and adjustment, and as time has gone along, the Lions have made the proper adjustments, and, to quote the legendary Paul Bryant, became, “agile, mobile and hostile.”
The Lions will need all that and more this week. The Javelinas bring what has the potential to be a very good offense. There is a name emerging at QB in Kingsville that will be very familiar to football fans in Texas: Detmer. The name is quarterback royalty in the state. From Heisman winner Ty, to D1 standout Koy, now Koy Detmer Jr. takes the reins. This brings a new wrinkle to an otherwise run dominated offense, and after six consecutive losses in the rivalry between the old Lone Star Conference foes, the Piggies will be spoiling for a fight.
Buckle up, Lions fans. It’s sure to be a wild and raucous night in Commerce, America.
See You at the Hawk