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Southlake Style

A Young Defense Must Gain Experience Quickly

Sep 01, 2015 08:35AM ● By Mike

IV Seacat, Robert Barnes, Jake Oldroyd, Obi Eboh and Grant McFarlin stand guard of the Dragon end zone. Photo by Bludoor Studios

By EJ Holland

Describing Southlake Carroll’s defense in one word is simple — youth.

The Dragons have one of the most inexperienced defenses in the state as they return just one starter from a year ago. But at a tradition rich program, the mantra is always reload not replace.

Still, with less experience comes the inevitable problem of a lack of depth. Head coach Hal Wasson hopes to find players that can not only impact the game as starters but as key substitutes as well.

“One of the biggest concerns for us on the defensive side of the ball is depth,” Wasson said. “We have a small senior class. We have to find some depth and have some of these underclassmen step up.”

Southlake Carroll runs a 3-4 odd formation, which means the Dragons usually have three down linemen. Wasson said he’s comfortable with six players rotating along the defensive line. Keeping fresh is imperative, especially when facing the usual mammoth offensive lines of Euless Trinity and Coppell.

Wasson likes what he’s seen out of senior Ryan Miller, who made the move from offensive line this season as well as juniors like Zackery Semrak and Luke Jeter.

“We’re not really big up front this year, so we’re going to have to use more of a rotation,” Wasson said. “We’re going to play against big, physical teams, so we’re going to need to do that successfully.”

Southlake Carroll gave up just a little more than 21 points per game last season — a good figure given the explosive offenses it faced — thanks in large part to its linebackers. But the group loses all four starters, including Jake Copeland last year’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

“We have four new starters, so there is some new faces there,” Wasson said. “Grant McFarlin is doing a good job. He’s a hard-working football players. I like what Grant Phelps and IV Seacat are doing inside for us. It’s going to take a little time with all the new starters.”

McFarlin is making the move from running back and will provide some much needed senior leadership.

“It’s awesome I love it,” McFarlin said. “Anywhere I can get on the field is great. It’s definitely a lot different being on defense. But I feel like I got it down. I just want to help the team win, and I feel that we’re in for a great season.

Perhaps the group with the most potential this season is the secondary. Obi Eboh returns at cornerback after notching 55 tackles and 10 pass breakups. Robert Barnes will start at his natural safety position after recording 33 tackles and one interception — he started two games at outside linebacker as a sophomore.

“Obi is our only starter, so he’s the leader of our defense,” Wasson said. “Robert Barnes and Barrett Buck played some last year. We’re expecting good seasons out of them. We have some competition going on back there, so I like what we have in the secondary.”

But if the unit as a whole is going excel, it needs another big season from Eboh. And not just from his play on the field. As the only returning starter, it is imperative for him to help all 10 new starters get acclimated on Friday nights.

“I’m the only returning starter, so I know I have to step up this year,” Eboh said. “I have to help some of these younger guys get ready and get up to speed at this level. We’re going to have some tough road games, so I need to help them grow up.

“We have a lot of potential. It’s up to me to help us live up to it, so we can win another district title.”