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Poplarville’s defense ready to shut down the opposition

The defensive side of the ball for Poplarville’s varsity football team has one job, and one job only, to get the ball back to the offense.

Defensive Coordinator Timmy Story said it’s a selfless way to play, but it means the offense can have more possessions, which in turn translates to more points.

“We’re very unselfish and we just do our job,” Story said.

“And that makes all the difference in all honesty.”

Story said that unselfish play has allowed the Hornets to be incredibly successful in the past couple of years, even reaching the state championship two of the last three seasons.

The defense is taught how to play fundamental football by educating the athletes about the system, and once that education takes place they can react faster to the opposition. Story said that having these little things right allows players to read their keys, and strike before the opponent’s offense knows what hit them.

“The kids get used to it so they can play fast,” Story said.

“They play with their hair on fire.”

That education comes down to the coaching staff explaining the small intricacies of the game to the players.

Story credited Coach Adam Johnson and the rest of the staff for the time they spend with players, and that contributes to his players being football smart.

“There’s a difference between super athletic and football smart,” Story said.

“I’d rather take football smart and semi athletic every day over someone super athletic.”

That being said, the group is talented, with returning starters like Chandler Norris, Devin Hart, and Zac Owen. Additionally, Story said the defense has high expectations for the upcoming year.

Those expectations will be modified as the season goes on, especially once district games start.

“What you do is keep tweaking until you figure exactly who you are, then you’ll move forward,” Story said.

The same can be said for the defense as a whole. The scheme the team runs leaves little room for error, and that’s why Story and his staff work hard to make sure the kids understand their roles.

“We’re going to pressure whoever we play, we’ve got to play every single play, we can’t take off,” Story said.

“Establishing the line of scrimmage is what we do now.”

That shift in mindset can leave players with individual assignments and one-on-one coverage. 

However, Story and his athletes are playing the long game when it comes to their defensive strategy.

“I always tell them, ‘move on to the next play,’” Story said.

“We don’t have to win every battle, but you have to win the war.”

That thought process has proven successful so far, and Story is looking for some up and coming talent to help keep the standards high for the defensive side of the ball.

“We have some kids who have worked hard, and now we just have to keep getting better,” Story said.