Coach Feaster knows
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015
It is clear that the defensive unit of Pearl River Central High School’s football team plays with passion—whether it’s senior linebacker David Salser yelling up and down the sidelines after lighting up a running back, or senior safety Dalton Howe laying out a receiver and forcing the ball loose.
The Blue Devils’ defense has put up stellar performance after stellar performance. Through 11 games, the PRC defense has allowed 20 or more points in just three contests. They have amassed 15 sacks and hurried the quarterback 33 times. This intense pressure has resulted in a wealth of takeaways for PRC with 14 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and three pick sixes.
Coach John Feaster, the defensive coordinator for PRC, has set the tone for his defense to be successful.
“Coach John Feaster brings a passion to the game unlike anyone else that I’ve coached with and our kids feed off that,” said PRC Head Coach Eric Collins.
Feaster has an impressive resume as both a football coach and a player. He graduated in 2000 from Picayune Memorial High School where he excelled as a three-year starter at linebacker for the Tide. After high school, Feaster played two years with the Wildcats at PRCC where he earned all-state honors his sophomore year and then ended up signing with the University of Cincinnati where he lettered for two years.
He then became the linebackers’ coach and strength / conditioning coach at Picayune in 2006, and after winning a state championship with Picayune, Feaster became the defensive line coach at PRC in 2012. The following year he became the defensive coordinator.
Feaster says everything he does is based on a belief system that includes effort, discipline and being very intense.
“Everything is based off of effort. As a defensive staff, we don’t want to coach effort. When we get out there, we want to be xs and os,” Feaster said.
One aspect that has been instrumental to Feaster’s success with his defense is the familiarity he has with the senior class—his first year was their freshman year.
“This group of kids, I think they believe in me, they believe in this entire coaching staff and I believe in them. We’ve been together for four years and they have bought into everything that we are trying to do,” Feaster said. “We got a great group of kids. They believe what we tell them and then they go out and execute the plan on Fridays.”
Howe has been a defensive standout all year long and his numbers certainly back it up. Thus far he has 100 tackles, four interceptions, one fumble recovery, two passes deflected and he took one of his interceptions back for a touchdown against Stone.
“I think he’s a great coach defensively and all around. He does a great job of firing us up for the games. He gets us ready all through the week,” Howe said.
Howe mentioned that one of his favorite additions to the program was that Feaster brought Lord strength to PRC.
“We have a huge belief system in God here. Everything we are doing, God has blessed us to do it. You can do anything with Lord strength—he’s the author and the finisher. We do the chant before the game to get us going,” Feaster said. “And also, Shane was one of the first kids I started training and with his passing it added more to it for them and made them not take anything for granted. It gives them extra motivation to lift his name up and his father’s name.”
A major characteristic of the Blue Devil defense is how well they all swarm the football. On many plays there are a number of PRC defenders on hand to stop the ball carrier. Feaster incorporates what he calls the pursuit drill in every practice where it doesn’t matter how far away you are from the football—you still need to be in the habit or pursuing the football until the whistle blows.
“We try to make sure there are 11 guys around the football at all times. It doesn’t matter if they’re 80 yards away from the football they’re running to it. It builds that mentality and puts that habit in their head to ‘say we’re gonna pursue this football’ because if they don’t pursue the football, they’re gonna pay for it on Monday with extra work. It’s been working so far, I hope it continues to work,” Feaster said.
Accountability is a huge lesson the entire PRC football staff teaches the kids. If one player messes up, the whole team runs, Feaster said.
Due to Feaster having been able to work with his seniors for four years, he feels very lucky to have kids like Howe and Salser leading on the field.
“Him and David (Salser) are like coaches on the field for us, we know we can count on them to line up the entire defense. If something happened to the entire staff on a Friday, the defense could line up to anything the other team throws at us because of those two guys (Howe and Salser),” Feaster said.
With the leadership, camaraderie and drive of the PRC defense led by Feaster, it is evident why they have enjoyed so much success this year.