It's one thing to have brains and maybe not braun, but when you can actually combine the two it makes for a lethal concoction.
The mastermind behind the Harrisburg High School defense, Greg Langley said that particular mixture is what has made the Bulldogs so ferocious, not only throughout the playoffs, but this past season.
Through three playoff games, Harrisburg has given up no more than seven points. In the two wins against Herrin and Alton Marquette both scores came very late in the game.
Throughout the season, the Bulldogs have given up 171 points, which averages out to 14.3 points per game. The defense has surrendered 2,724 yards with 1,405 of that coming via the pass.
Considering Harrisburg is scoring at a clip of 30.2 points per game and racking up 4,1116 with 3,286 coming on the ground, Langley even admits that at times the offense acts like the team's best defense.
Still, there's no denying how dominant the Bulldogs have been on the defensive side of the ball
Langley, who played his high school ball at Eldorado High School and was Harrisburg's head coach from 2002 through 2004 sat down with the Daily Register to talk about the spark behind the defense, who is the key that starts the ignition and what he expects Saturday against Rochester.
Daily Register: What's been the key spark behind the defense? Not just the the last three games, but really all season.
Greg Langley: We did make some adjustments to what offenses we were playing. Personnel wise, we really didn't make a lot of adjustments, but techniques and different set ups, is where we made the most adjustments. That being said, I think the kids got comfortable with what adjustments we made. They picked it up, kept it routine and each game we play - even thought we have to adjust things here and there - nothing has been real drastic.
DR: What makes that particular group so effect and so good?
GL: We have some really athletic kids on defense right now. It's real easy for them to make some adjustments if we have to. They're smart kids on the field and off the field. When you actually have something like that it makes it real easy to put all those adjustments in. They are having fun and enjoy getting out there and holding a team from scoring. We do bend at times, but that happens. The main thing is not breaking.
DR: In your tenure and time at Harrisburg is this the best defense you have ever coached?
GL: This group — and I'm not a huge stat guy — we've created a lot of turnovers this year (Editors note: Harrisburg is +15 in turnovers this season. The Bulldogs have recovered 15 fumbles and lost 10. They have picked off 12 interceptions, while throwing just two. Brandon Pate has three INTs, while Logan Hartley, Cooper Thompson and Daniel Lewis all have two. Dakota Upchurch, Capel Henshaw and Justin Younger have one.) I have compared this year — not individual kids — but as a whole, have compared them to that state championship team of 2000. We had speed on that defense and kids that were strong and had been in the weight room. These kids have worked really hard in the offseason and in the summer to get stronger, they're fast I think that's been well documented. I have made comparisons, but I don't try to inflate their egos. It's like comparing apples and oranges at times. This group has kids that are smart and strong and do what we ask them to do.
Page 2 of 2 - DR: I'm sure you don't like to pinpoint one player, but is there a guy that gets that defense going?
GL: If we look at the entire defense that is out there — Dakota Upchuch is a guy that stands out, just because of his presence. Even his teammates would agree that you have a strong, fast, big guy that is very hard-nosed. His teammates would be the first to acknowledge that. He probably is one of the one that I foresee as being a main key part of our defense. All 11 of them are key, but he is a major cog in that bunch
DR: Was Saturday's performance, your best defensive effort all season?
GL: I don't know if it was the very best performance? Stat wise, I don't keep up with stuff like that. It was definitely a big one and when you are playing a team like Marquette that has that much speed, those kids were fast and in a race, they probably outrun our kids. But football wise, you've got a group of 11 guys that keep plugging away, staying after it, carrying out their assignments and doing what they are supposed to be doing. Maybe not all 11 of them are blessed with the most amazing abilities, but right now they are getting the job done.
DR: how much do you expect to be tested Saturday at Rochester?
GL: Rochester is an extremely well coached team. They are very good offensively. They have a sound defense. Will it be a tough game? Most certainly. They are supposed to be tough when you get to the semifinals. If we go out and play good defense and at the same time — what's made us such a good defensive team — is having us a sound offense, we should be okay. We knew every single playoff game is a tough game. When you make it to the semifinals you're expected to see some of the best teams in the state. We have to recognize here, 'hey, we are one of those four teams.' So we are one of those best teams in the state and we're playing one of the other best teams in the state in Rochester. We'll take our chances and see what happens.