Defensive Wave Crashes Sussex
By Ryan Lazo
Aug 27, 2013, 08:00
The Petersburg High School football team stare at the clock as the minutes tick off on a surprising rout.
PETERSBURG — Offense may bring a team more attention and fill the stands, but it’s a suffocating defense that equals victories, the most important statistic in the game of football.
Following the script emphasized by head coach Joshua Wallace over the course of the week, the Crimson Wave attacked Sussex relentlessly off the edges, overwhelming the Tigers in a 48-6 rout in front of their home fans.
While the victory will not be marked in any official records — it was only a scrimmage game — it’s one that will surely turn some heads because of the ferocity of the Petersburg defense.
Facing a team that is the fifth-winningest program in Virginia over the past 30 years, Petersburg set the tone early with physical play against the more physically imposing Tigers. And once the tone was set, there was no getting out of it.
With each running of a play, Sussex fell deeper and deeper into the quicksand of the Crimson Wave defense, one that blinded the Tigers with its cheetah-
“People know we are a fast, athletic team and we got the speed to use to our advantage,” Wallace said after his team’s victory. “The good thing about our speed is its not just capable of getting outside, but it’s capable of cutting back too.”
Right, because the speed was not just isolated on the defense, but also an offense which had a field day by rushing off the edges. In the midst of a rainstorm, conditions not conducive to throwing the ball, the Crimson Wave pounded away at the Sussex defense on the ground, breaking numerous big runs and touchdowns.
Perhaps the highlight run of the game marked the killer dagger in the fourth quarter when Martin Short found a lane to the outside with one man to beat. Instead of trying to outrun the safety, Short pressed the square button on his Playstation 3 controller and stiff-armed his way into the end zone, prompting the bench to scream in joy and prompt celebration in the stands.
“Our overall team athleticism matching up with anotherteam and just proving that we really do have some top-notch athletes,” Wallace said. “Hopefully, some people can start recognizing that.”
It will be hard not too after the Crimson Wave totaled 46 points on the night after averaging just 14 points per game last season during a three-win campaign. But even more important was the defense.
The lightning-quick attack and anticipatory plays led to eight forced turnovers, including one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown which started the onslaught nearing the end of the first quarter.
And once Petersburg gained the momentum, there was no stopping them and no hope for a Sussex offense that averaged nearly 39 points per game last season but was held to just eight against the Crimson Wave.
It’s a result that can set a trend for an entire season, whether sending a team on a path toward glory or down a dark road after peaking too early.
“They’re starting to believe in each other,” Wallace said of his team. “And when they believe, they come together and that momentum just builds. It’s something that hopefully we can take the right step forward.”
While it’s a good first step, it is just that — a first step. It’s the first of many steps this Petersburg squad will have to complete successfully if they plan on turning on the speed against opponents come playoff time in November.