by Taylor Williams
October 29, 2009 – Most football fans are familiar with the expression, “the best defense is a good offense,” an age old maxim that applies to many competitive activities, from athletics to warfare. And in the context of Louisiana football, those two terms are often synonymous. The 5A Catholic League is a metaphorical battleground where teams meet once a week to duke it out till the bitter end. In a world where competition is incredibly stiff and every team a contender, all teams must have a coherent plan of attack, and no one understands that more than Wade Keiser, head coach of the Jesuit Blue Jays. His team’s early successes within this tight arena of competition can be traced back to the aforementioned philosophy, specifically in terms of the big numbers the Jays’ offense has been putting up all season. However, Coach Keiser is not strictly an offensively oriented coach; he just fights the fights he can win.
A veteran of the high school football coaching profession, Coach Keiser knows that football teams go through cyclical changes in terms of offensive versus defensive experience and leadership. Consequently, with this year’s high powered offense, led by 3 year starters Ethan Oddo (quarterback), Brycen Koch (wide receiver), and a multitude of seasoned backs and linemen, the Jays have been lighting up the scoreboard. The experience of Oddo in particular, in terms of reading coverage schemes and defensive formations, and in executing the basic run and shoot offense, has been invaluable this year. His ability to rely on past experience in pressure situations help to keep the team “moving at a good tempo,” a concept heavily emphasized by Coach Keiser in practice and in games. Oddo’s job is made somewhat easier by the strong running game and the abilities of his receivers to precisely and consistently execute their routes, yielding an offense with remarkable cohesion and chemistry. It is these factors that have made the Jays’ offense so fearsome, and that have provided compensation for the lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball. Like any elaborately strategized battle, the rhythm of any good football team shifts from offensive to defensive, and success depends on the ability to analyze the current condition in those terms. At the present, the Jays are on the offensive, but next year the core offensive players will have graduated and the defensive squad will have to step to the plate, or in this case, the line of scrimmage. When asked to elaborate on this concern, Coach Keiser maintained an air of nonchalance, citing the emerging play of defensive end Chris Andrade and linebacker Deion Jones as instrumental in establishing defensive leadership. As the head of a squad whose strengths are constantly shifting, Coach Keiser places a premium on this kind of emergence and shoe-filling, and on the importance of applying experience. All his players have “taken their lumps” as underclassmen, which in his opinion has molded them into the championship-contending squad that they are today. However, like any good coach, Keiser knows that his team will just have to cross the defensive leadership bridge when they come to it, and not lose sight of the present. Coming off a heartbreaking loss to league leaders Archbishop Rummel, the Jays llok to implement their offensive power against rivals Shaw in a big game this weekend, leaving it up to the fans to speculate on how and when the defense will step up in the future.