Noah Gnacinski (40) expects to back a much more formidable defensive line this season. Chloe Hege Courtesy
Noah Gnacinski (40) expects to back a much more formidable defensive line this season. Chloe Hege Courtesy

Keller Citizen

Why Timber Creek football expects its defense to be much improved this year

By Kevin Lonnquist

klonnquist@star-telegram.com

August 29, 2017 12:34 PM

Every football coach pleads for it, prays for it and begs for it. No team can have much of a season without it being solid along the offensive and defensive lines.

Review Keller Timber Creek in 2016, when the Falcons created history in neck-twisting fashion. They enjoyed their first winning season (7-5) and won their first playoff game.

However, they did it in spite of a defense that just wasn’t physical enough up front. This unit surrendered points and yards at alarming rates and was involved in five games where the opposition scored at least 40 points.

We played with 185-pound defensive ends [in 2016]. They do a good job for their size, but we couldn’t stop power running attacks.

Timber Creek head coach Kevin Golden

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Hopes in 2017 for the defense to change its image seem justified. Head coach Kevin Golden believes he has the largest front that he’s ever fielded in his nine seasons. The top five linemen average 228 pounds.

Timber Creek has the girth to move the earth. It starts to prove that Sept. 2 against Irving Nimitz at the Keller ISD Athletic Complex.

“Mostly, our struggles have been we just don’t get or have large linemen, so it’s a size issue,” Golden said. “We played with 185-pound defensive ends. They do a good job for their size, but we couldn’t stop power running attacks.”

To complement an explosive offense that should find a way to score in a variety of ways and can stress an opposing defense, a defense’s goal in this era of football is to generate enough stops and force a couple of turnovers to create separation.

The inside of the Timber Creek front in the 4-2-5 alignment are senior defensive tackle Armani Resendez (5-11, 240) and senior nose guard Josh DeWeese (6-3, 245) and senior defensive ends Armani Resendez (5-11, 240), Brett Phillips (6-0, 215) and Hunter Meachum (6-3, 240). Golden is spending the last days of fall camp to find a sixth so he can slide Phillips inside.

Size created one issue in previous seasons. Missing tackles made it worse. Golden and his staff spent a sizeable part of the offseason working on technique so players would be better making plays in space.

“Last year, were not hustling to the ball,” senior linebacker Noah Gnacinski said. “This year in spring we were always getting guys to just run to the football. We want to have all 11 doing that. We have to hold ourselves and force the offense to make a decision and make mistakes.”

taking off soon.... pic.twitter.com/Q4CZk3i5VI

— hammer time (@Noah_G4) August 27, 2017

A quality front can change the pocket and keep a quarterback from escaping. It can impose enough pressure to shrink running lanes for running backs. Simply, a defense can win if the line can dictate the flow of the game.

This group has enough balance to where Golden and defensive coordinator Dusty Ortiz can be creative if they want to be. Funneling plays to Gnacinski and senior linebacker Michael Ngethe would be the perfect scenario.

“We spent a lot of time about not giving up the big play,” Golden said. “It was bad last year and we knew it. Two years ago we had a good defense. But every year it’s a new team. We’ve got the size, so it’s going to be hard to push them around.”

A taste of 2016’s success summons tangible excitement in the program. Players believe they can beat quality opponents. The next step for this program is to compete for a district championship. The Falcons will know quickly in the Sept. 29 district opener against rival Keller Fossil Ridge how much has changed.

“It’s going to be the hardest thing with Fossil Ridge because they can pick you apart,” Gnacinski said. “They can scramble. But guys have been united and are hungry. The playoff win set the expectations. We’re ready to reach and go past them.”