Defense Wins Championships.
It’s an old sports adage that oftentimes rings true, regardless if it’s at the high school, college or pro level.
Deer Creek is taking that mantra to heart this year as it attempts to win a district championship and make a deep run in the Class 6A-II high school football playoffs.
Through their first seven games, the Antlers have shut out two opponents and held two others to only one score. Half of the points they’ve given up on the season came in their only loss; a tough, double-overtime setback to Stillwater.
“I would say our defensive philosophy is about running to the football, making people snap the ball and earn what they get,” claimed head coach Wade Standley, who’s in his fifth season at Deer Creek. “Steve Mills, our defensive coordinator, has done a fabulous job of getting the guys to buy in to the defensive system.”
“Our defense has one job – and that’s to get our offense back on the field,” added Standley. “If it takes one play, it takes one play. If it takes 14, then it’s 14. It doesn’t matter as long as you can get off the field without giving up a score.”
The Antlers have a lot of experience on that side of the ball. Senior cornerback Jevion Jones is one of the anchors of a defense that’s only given up 19 points in its last three games.
The stellar performance from the Deer Creek defense this season has taken some of the pressure off the offense and they’ve responded in tremendous fashion. Senior quarterback Brett Pense has thrown 17 touchdown passes with only one interception. Six different Antler receivers have more than 10 catches on the season, including a team-high-tying four TD receptions by Jones.
“I really worked hard in the offseason and I can tell it’s paying off,” admitted Jones. “I really want to play college football next year.”
Make no mistake about it. The Antler offense has played well enough to win games on its own, but it’s their defense that has made them a serious contender in Class 6A-II.
“First of all, it’s the young men we’ve got playing over there,” said Standley on his defensive unit. “They’re buying in. They’re focusing on the basics of running to the football and tackling well and just playing together like a team.”
The 7th-ranked Antlers (6-1, 3-1 in district play) put their district title hopes on the line Friday night when they host #5 Del City (6-1, 4-0) in a huge 6A-II showdown. YurView will broadcast this Ford Game of the Week live on Cox Channel 3 and the matchup will also be streamed online.
“We have a great team atmosphere,” said Standley. “These guys love playing football together. That’s what high school football is all about.”