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Snider football coach Kurt Tippmann wanted his team to contain Bishop Luers' speed in the Panthers' season opener on Friday and the coach admittedly failed miserably at doing so. However, all was not lost, especially the game, as Tippmann's team executed well enough in the other components of his defensive strategy to pull out – barely – a 10-7 win.
“We didn't slow them down,” Tippmann said. “Their whole plan was to use their speed. Defensively, I thought that we did a great job (though). It wasn't individual performances, those guys played as a unit.”
It took a village of Panthers to stymie the prolific Knight offense and some how, some way, Snider shut Bishop Luers down offensively.
“We've executed everyday in practice going 100 miles per hour,” Snider defensive lineman Weston Painter explained. “We had 11 men to the ball on every play.”
That they did. And when the Panther defenders, as well as the Knights for that matter, arrived at the ball it was with a ferocious, jarring intensity. With the victory, it snapped a two-game skid against Luers by the Panthers and places them in the driver's seat for their first Summit Athletic Conference crown since 2005.
“I'm pretty sore,” Snider linebacker and running back Nic Reese said after the game. “My shoulders are pretty messed up. We knew that we had to play physical to beat this team.”
Digest these numbers if you will. Bishop Luers star Jaylon Smith was held to 31 yards rushing on eight carries. The Knights have arguably the deepest corps of running backs in the state and they combined for just 66 total yards on the ground.
“We had some really nice opportunities early,” Bishop Luers coach Matt Lindsay said. “We didn't capitalize on them. I'll give them credit, certainly. They played a great defensive game.”
So how do you slow down an offense that features four of the top 20 rated prep players in Indiana? Again, it takes a village.
“Basically, we covered the cutbacks, because with their speed, they can cutback quick,” Painter said. “Get 11 men to the ball, have a good pursuit angle, stop them in the backfield and not let them get up field.”
That is easier said than done, but somehow Snider did it. Virtually each time Smith or one of his talented teammates took the ball, they perhaps got a yard or two before they found themselves engulfed in black jerseys.
“The coaches taught simple, fundamental things like leverage, knowing where your help was, and being in the proper space on blocks,” Tippmann said. “That way it's not just you one-on-one, you work as a unit.”
The Knights averaged 42 points per game a year ago and on Friday it took them nearly 43 minutes to even reach the end zone. Luers did manage to muster 162 yards through the air, but Snider's bend – but-don't-break defensive philosophy was solid enough to force Luers, who punted only when it was being kind a year ago, to do so four times on Friday.
“We knew that we were going to be good defensively,” Tippmann said. “It came down to us doing what they are coached to do and they did it. They did it very well.”