FOOTBALL GAME OF THE WEEK: Mustangs relying on improved defense

Published 2:33 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2013

With four wins behind them and a playoff berth within sight, Isabella’s Mustangs like their position.

It was different one year ago, when IHS struggled out of the gate to a 2-2 record, then lost its last four region games to miss the playoffs.

Isabella players believe this is a different year, and last week’s 35-14 win over Horseshoe Bend provides a perfect example. Last year, the Mustangs lost to HBHS, 61-33.

“We wanted to go over there and play a little better, and we did,” Isabella coach Scott Booth said.

The Mustangs overcame a slow start by putting together a solid second half. In other games this season, the opposite has happened, with the team starting strong only to fade late.

“Maybe one of these days, we’ll get both halves together,” Booth said.

In all but one region game in 2012, IHS gave up at least 33 points, but this year’s defense has been much improved, giving up an average of only 10 points per contest.

Brandon Chapman contributed to the defensive effort last week by intercepting two passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

“Our defense was pumped up about it,” Booth said. “We haven’t done a whole lot of this–shutting people down.”

The IHS defense posted five takeaways altogether.

Jordan Davis has provided a presence at the nose guard position. His five sacks put him among area leaders in the category.

“I tell him all the time, the nose guard is the reason why we’re running this defense,” Booth said. “I hope he continues to improve.”

The Mustangs hope to continue their improvement as a team this week when Verbena visits, but Booth said coaches have to be wary of the distractions that come with the game marking the school’s homecoming.

“We’re going to find out how disciplined of a team we are,” Booth said. “All of our attention is on Verbena. We’ve been in this situation before, and they’ve beaten us.”