WARRINGTON >> They shoot for the shutout.
“The coaches say goose egg, every week,” said Central Bucks South linebacking terror, Matt Norris, smiling wide after Saturday’s sunny performance. “If we achieve that, then it’s a defensive job well done.”
As far as prizes go, the Titans prefer goose eggs over game balls, and collectively they blanked rival Souderton 20-0 in a Suburban One League Continental Conference clash, as South shut out Big Red for the second year in a row.
In the Titans’ 5-0 start, the defense has allowed seven points or less in four of the five victories.
“The defense did a great job. We have a great defense,” coach Tom Hetrick said. “And we have a great front six. If you can pitch a shutout in Suburban One against a team like that, that is full of big, tough kids, that’s an accomplishment. So I’m very proud of them.”
Norris was a pillar of South’s defensive might, particularly in the second half. He had a fumble recovery early in the third quarter than snuffed out two fourth-down attempts by Big Red.
On the first, with South ahead 7-0, Souderton attempted a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1 at the Titan 46, but Norris knifed into the backfield and stopped Andrew Vince for no gain.
The second time, Norris was even more emphatic, stuffing Deandre Wakefield for a loss of four on 4th-and-1 at the South 35. Just two plays later, Ryan Watson burst through a gaping hole in the middle and raced away for a 77-yard score and the clinching points for the Titans.
“That was fun,” Norris said of the two fourth-down stops. “I love when we get to switch momentum.”
“He’s a special linebacker,” Hetrick said of the fast, 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior. “He does things that we didn’t coach him to do. He just has instincts of how to get to the ball, and when a play is being made he’s either making it or he’s real close to where it’s being made.”
The defense made things easier for the Titans on a day when the offense was under new control — sophomore quarterback Josh Consoletti, who was in for injured starter Jack Johns (shoulder).
Consoletti provided a big finish to the first half when he connected with Collin Dompert in the corner of the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown and a 7-0 South lead at the break.
“I told the guys if we’re gonna roll with a sophomore quarterback, than our system has to stay our system,” Hetrick said. “We’re not gonna say we have no passing game, because we trust the kid. We trust him, and we have people on the edge that we assume when we put the ball in their hands, they’re gonna make plays.”
As the Titan defense tightened its control on the game, not allowing Big Red a single first down in the second or third quarters, the South offense expanded the lead, with Consoletti finding Brady Prezelski for a 13-yard score and a 13-0 lead late in the third quarter.
Norris stopped Wakefield early in the fourth, leading to the long-distance burst by Watson and the 20-0 final score.
“I give Souderton credit. They have some big, tough kids up front,” Hetrick said.
Big Red did get off to a tremendous start, with Wakefield breaking free for a 35-yard gain over the left side. But Souderton would later punt on that series and had a turnover on its second. Souderton’s defense played inspired ball and kept it a one-score game at the half and a 13-0 game halfway into the fourth.
“Our defense played hard,” Indians coach Ed Gallagher said. “And our offense — it doesn’t look like it because we didn’t score any points — executed better than we had the past couple weeks.
“I’m proud of the gains that we made but obviously it’s not good enough to beat a team like South. We have to keep working and hopefully if we can make some more gains in practice this week we can compete and have a shot against CB East.”
Quarterback Kyle Walker stepped in for the injured Dean DiPisa and helped engineer two promising drives early for Big Red (1-4, 0-2 conference), but on both occasions South’s defense was able to rise, forcing a punt and a turnover. The Titans won 37-28 over CB East last week and gave up a combined 20 points in its other four victories.
“Shutout, lights out,” Norris said of the defense. “Last year, same game, we had a shutout (7-0) as well, but this year I think we let up less yards and I think we’re even better.
“The offense started out sluggish (today) but they did what they needed to do. They put up points and the defense — we didn’t skip a heartbeat.”