Smith wants more improvement from Rebels

October 23, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

The more Boyle County wins, the more coach Chuck Smith wants the Rebels to improve even more.

The Rebels (8-0) play at Taylor County (2-6) on Friday, and Smith is looking for improvement by his defense. The Rebels are allowing just 12 points per game, but Smith wants to see better tackling the next two weeks to get Boyle ready for a run at a fifth straight state championship.

"We need to swarm to the ball better. We need to defeat and come off blocks better," the Boyle coach said. "Our tackling has been better, but it has to get even better. You don't win championships without a great defense and I want to see us get back to a good-tackling, ball-swarming defense."

Smith thinks several personnel changes will help the Rebels do that. Ian Young, who has eight tackles for losses among his 57 tackles, has been shifted from linebacker to defensive end. Senior Ian Loughry, out for six games with a knee injury, is back to add a more physical look to the secondary. Junior Danny Commarford has become a starting linebacker and added a spark to the defense.


"Commarford is a very tough, physical kid," Smith said. "He always goes full speed. It's never a problem getting him to swarm to the ball.

"We moved Ian Young to beef up our line. He has speed and size to create problems. We've not always done a good job tackling in the secondary, but Ian Loughry will help solve that."

Boyle's top tackler is senior outside linebacker Brad Cloud, who has seven tackles for loss among his 63 stops. He also has intercepted two passes, recovered two fumbles, blocked one kick and broken up six passes. The other outside linebacker, junior Evan Teague, has 47 tackles and two interceptions.

"They've done a very good job all year," Smith said.

So has inside linebacker Andrew Bertram. The sophomore is second on the team in tackles with 61.

"He has a chance to be a special player," Smith said. "He understands the game well, and he can tell everyone where they are supposed to be. We've put a lot of responsibility on him considering he's just a sophomore, but he's handled it well."

Quarterback Brandon Smith may also figure into the defensive mix in the Class AAA playoffs. The Rebels were planning to use him regularly on defense this year before Chuck Smith decided he didn't want to risk getting him injured.

"We backed off using him on defense because we knew if he went down, it would put us in a bind offensively," Chuck Smith said. "But Brandon is really a good defensive player. Before the season is over, he may be starting on defense. We can move some people around. Once it gets to do-or-die time, we've probably got to get him in the game."

Chuck Smith likes the way junior cornerback Greg Peck has helped the team. Peck, who transferred here from Tennessee, has 49 tackles, a team-high three interceptions and five pass breakups.

"He's one of the best defensive backs we've ever had here," the Boyle coach said. "He's a great (pass) cover guy, and he's also really physical. He's been outstanding at his spot all year."

The coach said he hopes sophomore cornerback Seth Tamme can fully recover from a leg injury that has hampered him the second half of the season.

"He was playing very well before he got hurt, and we need to get him healthy," Smith said. "He's maybe 80 percent now. We need him healthy."

The coach inserted sophomore Hagen Smith into the starting lineup at safety three weeks ago and likes the way he's played despite being smaller than most defensive backs.

"He's just a sophomore, and he needs more lead in his pants," Chuck Smith said. "He needs to get stronger, but he never lacks for effort and he's been where he's supposed to be."

Smith wants to see how his team responds to Friday's road test as it continues its state title quest.

"We are just primarily focusing on ourselves, not Taylor County," Smith said. "We've got a lot of work still ahead of us on both sides of the ball, and I want to see improvement Friday."

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