By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports
After securing just two wins one year ago, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football team has doubled their win total this season, thanks to some impressive efforts on both sides of the ball.
But from a quick glance from the team’s most recent outing against Worcester State, it appears as if the Buccaneers’ defense has been a big reason why Massachusetts Maritime Academy has won all four of its contests thus far.
Against the Lancers, the defense recorded 14 tackles for a loss of 75 yards. Jack Fontana led the unit with a team-high 14 total tackles, including nine solo stops, while Colin McCabe added eight tackles, including four tackles for a loss of 30 yards and two fumble recoveries.
Through four contests, the Buccaneers’ defense has limited opposing offenses to just 13.8 points per game and 75.8 rushing yards.
This week, the defense will certainly be tested against an undefeated Western Connecticut squad that is averaging 34.3 points per game, along with 337.8 offensive yards.
Noontime Sports caught up with McCabe and Fontana to discuss the team’s defensive performance thus far, as well as what they must do to continue their recent success on Saturday against Western Connecticut.
It sounds cliche, but what has made the defense so successful this season?
Colin McCabe: “I think that last year we were young, but (this year) our defense came back with experience from a year ago. (Last season) we developed the chemistry, (which has helped us be successful) and our coaching staff is always on top of what the (opposing) offense will be doing (every week).”
Jack Fontana: “Everyone is doing what they have to do, and it clearly shows on Saturday. The defensive line is getting to the quarterback, they’re holding up the offensive linemen and giving linebackers like myself and Sean Smialek the opportunity to rush the passer.”
How does facing quarterback Matt Long in practice help the defense prepare for other quarterbacks and offenses you will see throughout the season?
Jack Fontana: “Going against a great athlete like Matt makes the whole defense so much better. You get to see one of the top athletes in practice (every day).”
Colin McCabe: “It’s tough because he is very shifty, so you have to really time out where he is going to be, so I focus on my footwork when going up against a guy like him.”
This week, your defense faces a talented quarterback in Western Connecticut’s David James. What must the defense do to slow down and contain the Colonials offense?
Colin McCabe: “We’re probably going to see a lot of passing this week, so our defensive line needs to have a big game. We need to give our cornerbacks and safeties some time with the receivers, and we can’t let the quarterback scramble.
“We also need to make sure we contain (David James) before he throws the ball downfield, so those are a few keys for (the defense) for Saturday.”
Jack Fontana: “We have a good game plan going in right now, but we’re just going to have to follow all the points and insight from our coaches, so we can fly around to the ball and focus on limiting yards after the catch.”
How has the defense been able to limit opposing rushers to less than 100 yards per game?
Jack Fontana: “I think it is just from working hard every day in practice. The defensive line does a great job of getting tackles (and breaking through opposing o-lines) to making the running back half to bounce (in a different direction).”
Colin McCabe: “I know I sound like (New England Patriots) coach Bill Belichick here, but you have to just do your job, do what the coaches say, fight for your gaps and then swallow up the run game.”
Did you both think your team would enjoy this successful of a start and remain undefeated through five weeks of the season?
Colin McCabe: “I didn’t think that 4-0 was too far out of the picture (when our preseason practices started two months ago). Pretty much every game last year was close (excluding) a couple, but we basically have all of our players back (from last season) so 4-0 seems pretty good (from my perspective).”
Jack Fontana: “We just try to go into every week (with the mindset) of a win every day in practice. We finished 2-8 last year and I think we were getting sick (of losing), so heading into the offseason and spring ball our focus was that we could do this and change our mindset heading into (this season).”