… And right now the Oak Ridge unit is firing on all cylinders under Trojan defensive coordinator Darren Jonutz. Never more evident than in Saturday’s win over Burbank that saw Oak Ridge control, contain, stop — you name it — the vaunted Titan offense. As nice as the win is, Jonutz and Co. know they face another uphill challenge this coming Friday against Granite Bay for the section banner.
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Before preparations get underway for that one, Jonutz, the program’s unsung hero for his ability to formulate the needed defensive scheme each week, shared his thoughts on the team’s victory at Burbank.
On the strategy to deal with the Titans’ run game that featured three 1,000 plus rushers and ranked as one of the state leaders (and nation) with an average exceeding 500 yards per game.
“The strategy came from a group effort. It’s Jeff Lewallen’s base scheme from when we played them a year ago — enhanced with some added looks — and performed by the boys at a very high level. It’s one thing to have a game plan but another to execute it. What helped is that we’ve (recently) faced option teams in Jesuit and Enochs so it’s using the same principles each week. You could say the calender has worked to our advantage.”
On the revenge factor (from last year’s playoff loss to Oak Ridge) Burbank had to its advantage.
“Well, all we heard and read about was that their battle cry was ‘redemption.’ We knew they’d come out aggressive so if we could weather the first quarter and settle into the flow we’d be able to play with them. Our battle cry was ‘don’t give up the big play.'”
On shutting the Titans out in the first half.
“Yeah, I figured if we executed well and contain them that our hope would be to keep the points total low. Traditionally we’re a second half defensive team so for us to come out fast and keep them off the scoreboard was tremendous.”
On stopping Burbank’s first possession of the third quarter.
“We talked at halftime about understanding the situation: one score and they’re back in the game. The kids went out in textbook fashion and held them. There were a lot of little things that added up like stopping their two-point conversion try after they scored — that was big.”
On facing the Titans’ pass instead of the run, the team’s bread and butter.
“A coach told me that we were the first team this season that made them throw late in the game. I knew if we could do that we’d be in good position. Anything to make their quarterback (Ernest Jenkins) uncomfortable was a plus because they don’t like to throw.”
On Oak Ridge’s next opponent, Granite Bay.
“They’re a fly team … a power fly team. Our work will be cut out for us.”