by Taylor Williams
November 19, 2010 – A tough schedule and dominant district play (outscoring opponents by about 28 points per game) have landed the Edna Karr Cougars the No. 1 seed in the 4A playoffs. Karr (10-1) struggled in the first round against Wossman, committing three turnovers in the red zone, but salvaged a win with outstanding defensive play.
Karr’s balanced offense, led by mobile quarterback Tollette George, has undoubtedly been prolific this year, with George himself accounting for over 2500 yards of rushing and passing offense. But head coach Jabbar Juluke, a former collegiate free safety and secondary coach attributes much of his team’s offensive success to opportunities created by the defense.
“When people watch Edna Karr football, we want them to see discipline, hard play, and fundamentals,” Juluke said. “And this year, it started on the defensive end; our defense has been a catalyst for our offense.”The catalysts for Karr’s excellent defensive play (allowing just 13 points per game), have come from different sources at times, but linebacker Matt Bailey and safety Devon Francois have anchored the unit and maintained a high level of play all year.
Four and throree year starters respectively, Bailey and Francois are extremely “battle-tested” leaders in the locker room who have made ball security a nightmare for opposing offenses this year. But what makes these two so effective on the field is their versatility, according to Juluke.
“They’ve been around guys who are leaders, like [current Tulane free safety] Shakiel Smith, they’re both basketball players and outstanding athletes who can play man-to-man coverage, blitz the quarterback, basically do it all,” Juluke said.
As the Cougars try to continue their playoff run against the McDonogh 35 Roneagles this Friday, a team they handled easily (34-9) in the regular season, the rover-back duo of Bailey and Francois should be a huge defensive asset. And here’s why.
Offensively, McDonogh 35 likes to pound the football and control the clock with the run game, but has enough receiving threats to stretch the field too. So the Roneagles could plausibly throw the Cougars a lot of play-action looks to get the safeties out of position and beat them deep.
And that’s where experience at the safety position is vital. Despite his current positioning at linebacker, the 5-foot-11, 215 pound Bailey (who’s committed to Tulane as a defensive back) should play a big role in Karr’s coverage schemes when he’s not crowding the box and stuffing the run.
It’s that kind of experience and on-field knowledge that has helped Karr become so defensively disciplined, as evidenced by high turnover margins and time of possession battles won from forcing three and outs.
But in the playoffs anything is possible, as Wossman nearly demonstrated last week, and the Cougars will need discipline from all eleven men on the field to continue their remarkable season.