TOLEDO — Toledo Central Catholic coach Greg Dempsey stresses defense and field position as key factors in winning games.
That was evident Friday night against Midview at Gallagher Stadium, as his team rolled to a 50-7 Division II, Region 6 victory.
And it started just four plays into the game with the Fighting Irish forced to punt from their 17 following a 6-yard sack by Devon Crum.
DeShone Kizer, who would go on to make several sterling plays, hit a long punt that hit the FieldTurf and bounced past the Midview returner and kept on rolling. When it was finally downed, it was at the Midview 16 and went as a 67-yard punt with no return.
From that point on, the Middies were stuck with terrible field position, while Toledo Central Catholic reaped the rewards of great field position. Its ensuing six drives, which all resulted in touchdowns, began with the average field position of the Midview 48.
“I was a defense coordinator for 15 years, and I will tell you that’s what wins these types this time of year is defense and field position,” Dempsey said. “Offense helps, don’t get me wrong, but if you don’t have a good defense and you are in bad field position, which is what got us last week (in a 42-0 loss to Toledo Whitmer), you’re going to be in trouble against these caliber teams.
“After last week’s loss, after that three-and-out, you were thinking, ‘Oh God, here we go again.’ But when you face an explosive offense like Midview’s, to have them start in a hole is huge, and we got on track from there.”
Midview coach Bill Albright admitted the punt was a big factor in the game.
“The crowd’s into the game, and we have a big stop (and) everybody’s pumped up … I want to see the film,” he said. “I know I keep coming back to it, but you’ve got to make plays. You’re in Week 11 in this type of atmosphere, you’ve got to make the plays.
“That hurt. That’s like a 45-yard swing. We let the ball bounce for 30 yards. We punt and get a face mask, that’s 15 more — there’s the change of field position, and we never got out of it. I don’t know if it would have made much of a difference. One will never know.”
The face mask penalty on the punt return set up the Fighting Irish on the Midview 43. Eight plays later, Toledo Central Catholic had an 8-0 lead, and it never looked back.
Midview, meanwhile, picked up only three first downs in the first half and committed two huge turnovers — interceptions from junior quarterback Cody Callaway — on its end of the field. Both led to quick TCC touchdown drives that helped turn it into a 43-0 halftime advantage.
“Our defense did a good job, but they just had bad field position all night,” said Callaway, who was held to 4-of-20 passing for just 53 yards in the first half. “We couldn’t get a first down to save our life. They’re a really good team, and I wish the best of luck to them.”
By contrast, the Middies’ average starting field position in the first half was their own 21 on seven possessions.
“We didn’t make plays tonight on either side of the ball or on special teams,” Albright said. “Unfortunately, that set the tone for the game. They’re a good football team. It would have taken a great, great effort on our part to compete with them. But I don’t know if we really competed tonight, unfortunately.
“You’ve got to make plays in big games, and that’s the bottom line. They put a big rush on — that’s their forte and they do a great job with it. I thought our line pass (protection) was good, but you’ve got to catch the football when you have opportunities, and we didn’t.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.