New Council Rock North defense is starting to deliver (VIDEO)

NEWTOWN – Only the league matters, or so the saying goes.

Last year, Council Rock North posted a pair of non-league triumphs over Perkiomen Valley and Simon Gratz then reaped the benefits when those two teams went on to winning campaigns.

This year, the Indians went 1-2 before entering their Suburban One Continental Conference schedule with Perk Valley avenging last year’s loss and Pennsbury pounding the Rock 41-19 in week three.

In between, the Indians posted an impressive win over National Conference rival CB South and since then, the Rock has gone 2-0 in league play including a comeback win over league rival CB East in week four.

Trailing CB South by two touchdowns in the first quarter and by eight points in the third, the Rock registered three unanswered TDs including a 77-yard interception return that went for a score to win 36-29 Sept. 11 at home. Trailing CB East 7-0 in the first quarter, North tallied four unanswered touchdowns to win 26-21 Sept. 26 at East.

“We put together a game where we played well on all aspects of the ball,” said quarterback Brandon McIlwain, who picked the ball and scored vs. the Titans from his position on defense. “We played well on offense, defense and special teams.

“They were good wins and good ways to win games.”

Defensively, the Indians closed gaps against the CBs, especially in the second half with the sides battling it out for the lead, something they failed to do in their stunning loss to PV in the season opener. In that one, the Rock was ahead 16-0 early and 30-21 at the half only to see the Vikings outscore North 35-6 after the intermission.

“We scored 36 points and still lost by 20 points; that’s unacceptable,” said Indians defensive captain James Closser. “We score 36 points, we should win the game.”

Part of the problem, said Closser, was a switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense, a formation that added a bunch of slants and blitzes. The middle linebacker, Closser likes the new scheme.

“It puts us in better positions to make plays,” said Closser. “We try to confuse the offense and I think it’s really worked the past few weeks.

“I give the coaches a lot of credit for coming up with this system.”

Like anything new, however, there was a learning curve that came with the new defensive scheme.

“We weren’t comfortable with what we were doing and that showed,” said Closser. “We weren’t playing instinctually; we were trying to think things through too much.

“Now that we’re more comfortable, we don’t have to think about it, we just play football.”

Going to three-man front was a big switch, even for Closser, a four-year varsity linebacker.

“I played with an even front for three years so it’s definitely a transition for me to learn new reads as a linebacker.

“But we keep getting better every week and we like where we’re at right now.”

With no points surrendered in the last five quarters including a 53-0 triumph in a week five win over William Tennent, Rock’s defense is continuing to develop. Leading CB East 20-7 the week before, the Indians pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter after the Patriots came up with a pair of big plays in the previous frame to make it a close game.

“We had to get a lot of stops in that game so that was one of the biggest weeks for our defense,” said Closser of the win over East. “They were in scoring position a bunch of times but we just never gave up.

The North ‘D’ accounted for five turnovers in the duel with the Patriots.

“We caused a lot of turnovers, which was huge, and we just kept getting stops when we needed to at the end of the game.”

After tossing a pair of TD passes – one in each half – to senior wideout Tyler Nowmos, McIlwain was on the front line for the final stop, leaping high for an interception at the two yard line that helped seal the win for Rock North.

This week, the Indians are going to need another solid defensive effort against Norristown if they are to remain unbeaten in the SOL Continental. Currently, there are four teams that are 2-0 in conference play including CB West, Quakertown and sister school CR South, the three opponents North faces in the final three weeks of the regular season.

One player the Rock defense is going to be focused on is Norristown senior Khalif Sinclair, an explosive wide receiver and defensive back who can burn defenders in a number of ways.

In the Eagles’ season-opening win over Wissahickon, Sinclair scored on a 78-yard punt return, from 64 yards out on a backwards swing pass, on a 52-yard interception return and a 20-yard TD reception. Against CB West Sinclair scored on an 81-yard punt return, a 77-yard pass and a 1-yard run.

“He’s one of the best athletes in our league,” said Closser, of Sinclair. “Whether he’s playing punt returner, cornerback or receiver, he’s a game-changer so we have to limit his big plays.”

Last year, then CR North senior Chris Welde took the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, igniting a 47-7 Indians win over Norristown in Newtown. This season’s duel with the Eagles is set for 1 pm Saturday in Norristown.


After the graduation of Welde and an early season injury to senior halfback Brian Choi, the Rock is spreading the ball around.

“We have a ton of playmakers and a lot of guys we trust with the ball,” said McIlwain. “With Brian banged up we had to have a lot of the younger guys step up.”

In the win over CB South, junior Dom DeSimone registered 37 yards rushing on seven carries. In week five’s win over William Tennent, senior Pat Lang chipped in with 64 yards rushing on 10 carries. Sophomore Matt Shenot added 59 yards and a touchdown on 11 totes, senior Seth Leuz added 46 yards and a score on nine carries and sophomore Mike Welde added 34 yards and a TD on just three touches.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply