Defensive Duo Charges Up Patriots
Blade Shoop is exactly a foot taller and weighs 100 pounds more than teammate Scott Tetlow.
The unlikely senior tag team duo shares the nose tackle position for a 5-0 Pinecrest football team that is trying to gain an advantage by rotating its defensive linemen to keep them fresh. Shoop, a prototype, college prospect is 6-foot-3 inches tall and weighs in at 285 pounds.
Tetlow, who tried out for football for the first time as a junior, and became a starter almost immediately, is 5-3 and 178 pounds.
"You've got little Scotty with his speed and you bring in big Blade with his size and it's a fun combination to work with," Patriot defensive line coach Greg Mayer says. "That's why we call them 'Thunder and Lightning.'
"Obviously, having fresh legs is great as the game goes on. We pride ourselves in being in better shape than other teams anyway. As a whole, having six guys that we can rotate wears on you come the fourth quarter. Those guys work hard and understand their role of wearing down offensive linemen like that."
Seniors Daniel Keith and Jake Bebout, and juniors Travis Bonner and Dylan Gaffney share the outside spots in the rotation. Three new players run on the field every two plays with exceptions depending upon down and distance.
Each of the six have been credited with at least 16 total tackles through four games with Shoop (29) and Keith (24) leading the way.
Shoop had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in Friday's win over Western Harnett.
The entire Patriot defense turned it on in the second half of last week's 27-14 home victory over West Johnston, forcing three turnovers in four Wildcat possessions. Overall, they limited the visitors to 68 net yards rushing on 25 carries.
That kind of a result has helped make a believer of players who would prefer to be on the field for every snap.
"At first I didn't like the idea too much," says Shoop, who played the entire game on defense last week because of an injury to another player. "After a few games I realized I was able to make a lot of big plays from having so much energy because of the rotation. Also, every day we help each other compete hard. We're all in it together so it's really a good thing."
Tetlow finds that his size becomes less of a factor against the bigger players as the game wears on.
"By the fourth period they're pretty much tired," he says. "I can hit the holes a lot faster and every now and then I can feel myself pushing them back a little easier."
On a team with no regular two-way players, Shoop has seen action in two games on the offensive line. He enjoys being the person closest to the ball from his nose position.
"A lot of the time running backs have to read you so you're a pretty important person," he says. "I like being that person because I get the bead on the center and he's got to worry about me as soon as he snaps the ball."
According to Mayer, who played college football at Ferris State in Michigan, and indoor football with the Muskegon Thunder, the main focus of his defensive line corps is on speed and being technically sound.
"We've got to continually be first off the ball," he says. "We harp day in and day out on being faster off the ball than the offensive linemen. Their job is to make sure those linemen don't get free shots at our linebackers. They did a good job of that last week."
Shoop is the son of Sandra Brown and Thomas Shoop. After attending Pinecrest as a freshman, he spent two years at Southern Lee before returning for his senior year. He is a Div. I college football prospect with N.C. State as one of the teams at the top of his list.
Tetlow has also played three years of baseball. The son of Kathy and Scott Tetlow is considering a military career as well as one as a teacher and coach.
Pinecrest head coach Chris Metzger is also the coordinator of the defense. He is the one who tagged the senior pair as "Thunder and Lightning."
"Scott is our little bundle of dynamite," Metzger says. "He causes a lot of problems with his quickness. Gaffney and Bonner are also problems because of their quickness. Bebout and Keith, as a well as Blade, are a combination of both. We're blessed to have six kids that do a pretty good job with it.
"They really get excited for each other when they make good plays. It's just a really unselfish group of kids."
Contact Charlie Bergmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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