« Everything Evergreen

FOOTBALL PREVIEW - Playing both ways

by Chris Conley

EVERYTHING EVERGREENS (FOX SPORTS WAUSAU-WSAU) - I could try to break down the Evergreen's defense for the upcoming season, but I'm not sure it would be useful. Going into last season Everest had no returning defensive starters. They fielded a defense of all seniors, but with very little varsity experience. And the defense was average... it wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either.

But something happened as the season went along. Injuries piled up, as they always do. The Evergreens found themselves using more players from their offense to fill holes on defense. By-and-large, it worked out. The team's best athletes were on the field for more snaps -- which is never a bad thing. But sometimes the defense looked tired, especially late in games. The defense broke down in two ugly losses. Appleton-North was gashing the Evergreens for 8, 9, and 10-yards a play in the fourth quarter of a 28-8 Everest defeat. (That game was tied 8-8 at halftime.) And Everest's defensive starters were unable to stop Kimberly's second and third string offense in a 56-8 thrashing. Two other not-so-good teams, Appleton West and Kaukauna, were able to move the ball and come back on Everest in the second half of games that should have been put out of reach.

The Evergreens have more defensive players coming back this year, and I think the defense may be a little better. I also think the defense will be playing with a slimmer margin-for-error because its uncertain how many points the offense will generate.

It's also likely that the Evergreens will again be relying on at least some two-way players, perhaps at linebacker and in the defensive secondary. This is not going to be a deep team. The best athletes will be called on to do double-duty on occasion. Here's when it matters: its 3rd down... late in the game... a defensive stop would allow Everest to close out a win... what happens when one of their fresh wide receivers lines up against one of our defensive backs who's been on the field for twice-as-many snaps? It's a long crossing pattern... the ball is in the air for what seems like forever... can our guy knock it away? Or will their guy win the foot race to the spot?

The two-way player is at a disadvantage in those situations. And the Evergreens may be rolling the dice.

Chris Conley