Goose Creek defense playing at ‘championship level’
The Goose Creek offense is overwhelming. The Gators average 524 yards and 49.8 points a game in an offensive attack that has produced three players who have rushed for at least 1,000 yards.
But don’t forget about defense. Defense wins championships and coach Chuck Reedy is just as pleased with his players who don’t make headlines for their offensive theatrics.
“The defense is really playing well,” said Reedy, whose team puts its 38-game winning streak on the field on the line Friday when South Pointe visits for a second-round Division II-AAAA playoff game. “The defense is playing at a championship level.”
The Gators beat Dutch Fork, 35-21, on Sept. 27 and have allowed two touchdowns or less in five of their last seven games. The Gators humbled Wade Hampton, 76-0, last week for their first shutout of the season.
The defense suffered some key graduation losses. Defensive end Gerald Turner signed with the South Carolina Gamecocks, defensive tackle Mike Myers signed with East Carolina and linebacker Jalen Stevens signed with the University of Connecticut.
There was plenty of potential on defense to begin 2013, but it was untested.
“Coming into the season, we knew we would have a good offense,” Reedy said. “We knew we had to get better on defense, and we’ve had. We’ve gotten better and better each week.”
The Gators are allowing only 3.8 yards per carry and 131 yards rushing per game. The secondary has been solid too, allowing 150 yards passing per game. The Gators have been opportunistic with 12 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries.
Omar McCrae heads up the secondary with 84 tackles, five interceptions and nine deflections.
“We take pride in the way we play,” McCrae said. “We’re physical in practice and we carry it over to the game. It doesn’t come easy. We work hard.”
Linebackers Daylin Julius and K.J. Wood have been solid with 135 and 107 tackles, respectively. But the player who really stands out on defense is 6-6 end Kalan Ritchie, who moved from tight end midway through the season. He’s been selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and has come on strong with 33 tackles, including nine against Dutch Fork. He puts good pressure on quarterbacks and has recorded three sacks and five hurries.
“We really didn’t have an impact guy in the front eight until we moved Kalan,” Reedy said. “Here’s a guy who is dominant. He is a difference-maker.”
Ritchie noticed all the attention the offense received.
“Now that I’m playing defense, the defensive side wants some credit, too,” he said. “I liked making the move to defense. I always had the idea in my head, and they finally let me do it. It’s a win-win situation.
And for the Gators, it’s been that way for 38 straight games.