Published: 06:46 PM, Wed Nov 28, 2012
Jack Britt defense not intimidated by state championship opponent, Matthews Butler
The Jack Britt High School defensive backs are constantly in search of motivation.
As Keon Young, Cedrick Williams, Jovan Williams and JahQise Foster will tell you, the easiest way to get hype is to face a worthy opponent.
"I love playing a really good passing team," Keon says.
A quality passing team like Garner, for example, Britt's Eastern Regional finals opponent last Friday. That seems to bring out the best in the Bucs' defense, which combined for five interceptions in Britt's 14-8 come-from-behind victory.
That performance earned Britt (13-2) a shot at another great passing team, perennial powerhouse and Western champ Matthews Butler (14-0) in Saturday's NCHSAA 4-AA state championship.
The Bulldogs offense has been prolific this season, racking up yardage and points while its defense has orchestrated five shutouts.
At the helm is senior quarterback Riley Ferguson, a Tennessee commit whose season total of 1,854 yards includes just eight games after being sidelined for six weeks by a broken hand.
The quarterback puts the ball in the air 21 times a game - a stat that should make the Britt secondary's eyes light up with excitement.
"When I see the ball in air, I just think it's mine," Cedrick says. "We like the pressure."
JahQise sums up the Butler offense nicely.
"They pass more than almost any team in the state," the junior says. "We have to be prepared for that. They have athletes that can make big plays, but so do we."
But Butler's offense doesn't rely solely on the pass. It boasts 1,000-yard rusher Josh Glisson in the backfield, and a diverse playbook.
The Bulldogs will present multiple set-ups, including the quarterback option - an attack that proved problematic for the Bucs' defense in their third-round contest at Richmond Senior, the first team that the secondary says ran a quality triple-option against them.
Britt eked out a 56-52 win in that game, sealing the victory on an interception by linebacker Andre Scott, who picked off a pass in the end zone in the closing seconds.
Keon repeated that feat a week later, denying Garner what would have been a game-winning touchdown throw with an interception.
That pick, one of four by the Bucs in the last seven minutes of the game, brought Keon's season total to a team-high six. The Bucs have 19 as a team and have picked off at least one pass in nine games this year.
Jovan says the key to success Saturday won't be to stop Butler's attack, but in limiting its effectiveness.
"We have to make their offense one-dimensional," says the senior, a converted linebacker who leads the team with 110 tackles. "We have to stop one part of their offense, so we know what's coming. It makes it less complicated to stop."
Just which dimension will remain is still a point of debate among the backs, with Cedrick arguing that the Bucs must stop the run first, while Keon says the backs will take personal responsibility for limiting the pass.
That specific strategy will be worked out as the days wind down to the state final, but Keon says the Bucs' approach will remain the same as it has all season.
"What we have to do is play as a unit," he says. "If we do that, then that's how we'll stop them."
Staff writer Jaclyn Shambaugh can be reached at 609-0651 or email@example.com.