C.B. Aycock defense relies on consistency
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 15, 2009 1:46 PM
They're under the radar, far from flashy and definitely not what's made finding an empty seat at Hardy Talton Stadium increasingly difficult.
Rather than grabbing headlines, the Charles B. Aycock defensive unit is content with being known for its consistency this season. The Golden Falcons have surrendered eight points or less in six consecutive games.
Seven Aycock players have recorded 25-plus tackles, including senior lineman Lester Faison, who has a team-high 55 stops. Faison, nose tackle Greg Johnson, Drew Daniels and Jarrod James have anchored a defensive front that's given up 91 yards per game rushing.
The Golden Falcons have held four opponents to less than 100 yards rushing this season.
"I think the defensive front is playing outstanding and Greg Johnson, the big nose guard is showing how he anchors that defense for me," said Golden Falcons head Randy Pinkowski following a game earlier this season. "Anytime you have to dedicate two guys to one, you're in trouble offensively."
Aycock allowed 38 points in a season-opening win over Bunn.
Pinkowski went back to the drawing board and opted to scale back his 3-5-3 scheme.
"In the first game, I knew we had the players to do what we needed to do, but I knew they just weren't getting checked into the system," said Pinkowski. "We had to back up and take them back and cut down some stuff, and then bring them back forward again after that first game. Now that they've had some success they're repeating those things for us.
"We're not feeling that all 11 of us have to fly to the football and we're staying at home."
The Golden Falcons yielded 21 points a game in 2008 and finished 4-7 overall. This season, they're giving up 10 points a game and have forced at least three turnovers in six of seven contests.
An emotional and physical leader, senior linebacker Tyheim Pitt has become the glue that holds Aycock's defense together.
Pitt stuck with the program in the midst of a 7-14 mark over the previous two seasons. A hunger for improvement has led Pitt to spend hours in Pinkowski's office going over game plans and to embrace the role of being the guy the rest of his teammates can look up to.
"Tyheim is that kid on the team that makes everybody else believe in what we're doing," said Pinkowski. "Every coach needs that spokesman on the team. Sometimes when things don't go right out there, being children they're very quick to say, 'I wonder if coach knows what he's doing?'
"He sells to everybody else what we're doing out there. When he believes in it, they believe in it. When you've got kids believing you've got things going your way."
Aycock (7-0 overall) faces its biggest test of the regular season Friday at South Johnston. The Trojans (6-1), with gun-slinging quarterback Pat Dunigan guiding the offense, are averaging 31 points a game.
Using a passing-oriented spread attack, every member of South Johnston's offense is outfitted with a wrist band. Dunigan has thrown for 1,147 yards and 13 touchdowns, and frequently calls his own audibles at the line of scrimmage.
Wide receiver Dee Williams leads the Trojans with 619 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Aycock has given up just 97 passing yards a game but has yet to face a pass-first offense or a unit that's put up the numbers that South Johnston has.
Statistically, the 2009 version of Aycock's defense will be remembered as one of the best to ever take the field in Pikeville. If they're able to shut down Pat Dunigan and company on Friday night, they'll have a chance to be remembered as Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference champions.
"They don't have to pitch a shutout every week and we can put points on the board," said Pinkowski. "The defense has really taken ownership of what they're doing and is taking pride in what they're doing.
"Defense wins championships, we all know that."
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