By the Numbers: East Texas’ Top Teams at Tackling Opponents Behind the Line of Scrimmage
Examining all the statistics coaches submit each week for the ETSN.fm stat leaders takes a lot of time, but discovering numerical gems makes it worth it.
Unfortunately, not enough teams track tackles for loss to make it a separate category in our stat leaders. But there are enough teams that do to give us an idea of who's the best in the region at stopping their opponents in the backfield. Tackles for loss are perhaps the most underrated defensive stat; after all, isn't the entire point of defense to stop your opponent as quickly as possible?
With that in mind, ETSN.fm presents several of East Texas' top tackles-for-loss teams. Some rack up sacks. Others simply accumulate TFL's by stuffing their opponents' ground game. Then there are those who can do both.
Here's a by-the-numbers look at those teams:
No team in East Texas has accumulated more tackles for loss through the 2012 season's first five weeks than Carthage.
The Bulldogs (3-2) have a jaw-dropping 95 tackles for loss, 17 of which are sacks. Texas A&M commit Isaiah Golden -- a 6-foot-2, 315-pound senior defensive tackle -- has a region-leading 20 tackles for loss, four of which are sacks. More than two-thirds of Golden's 29 tackles have come behind the line of scrimmage.
But it's not just Golden. Junior defensive end Mario McCain -- second in East Texas with five forced fumbles -- has 16 tackles for loss and three sacks, while senior defensive end/linebacker Gregg Graves has 15 tackles for loss and a team-high five sacks. Junior linebacker Tra Leary has nine tackles for loss and two sacks. Senior linebacker Trent Jackson, senior tackle K'Aelin Ware, and senior end Lane Pearce have six tackles for loss apiece.
Carthage's high-pressure defensive front has helped the Bulldogs force 19 turnovers and score 20 points on defense, including three defensive touchdowns.
Nobody in East Texas has sacked the quarterback more than Hallsville senior defensive end Coby Bradford, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound edge rusher who leads the region with 9 1/2 sacks. Only Carthage's Isaiah Golden has more than Bradford's 18 tackles for loss, which lead the Bobcats (4-1), who have 71 as a team and 14 sacks.
Bradford was named ETSN.fm + Dairy Queen Defensive Player of the Week after his monster season-opening performance against Whitehouse.
Senior tackle Tray King also has 18 tackles for loss in addition to three sacks, while senior safety Cayden Ferrill has relentlessly attacked opposing offenses, charging from the secondary to record 13 tackles for loss. Ferrill leads Hallsville in tackles (43) and forced fumbles (4).
If you want sacks, look no further than Henderson (3-2, 1-0).
The Lions' 45 tackles for loss don't compare to Hallsville or Carthage, but they've brought down the quarterback more times than either. In fact, more than half of Henderson's tackles for loss are sacks: 23 1/2 of 45.
Senior defensive end Bo Brady, who had 17 sacks in 2011, has four sacks so far this season, but he's gotten a lot of help from the interior of the Lions' front. Senior tackle Contrell Phillips, a 6-foot-1, 230-pounder who missed Henderson's final 13 games in 2011 with a knee injury, leads the Lions with five sacks. His 7 1/2 tackles for loss are second only to Brady's eight.
Junior linemen Brandon Armstrong and Ta'Ondrick Thurkill have also joined the sack party. Each player has three sacks through five games.
One team that's getting tackles for loss from a lot of different players is Pittsburg.
The Pirates (1-3) are essentially the anti-Henderson: the vast majority of they're tackles for loss have not come via sack (nine sacks of 46 tackles for loss). Seven Pirates have accounted for at least three tackles for loss, including De'Quaveon Douglas, who leads Pittsburg with nine tackles for loss and is second on the team with two sacks.
Senior defensive end Calvin Bates has a team-high three sacks and four tackles for loss, while sophomore linebacker Sir Charles Perkins has been a terror, racking up a team-high 61 tackles, six of which have become in the opponent's backfield. Junior lineman Ty Smith is third on the Pittsburg defense with five tackles for loss.
Syd Moore and the Van Vandals (4-1) are another team that may lack the sacks, but have tallied plenty of tackles for loss, like Pittsburg.
Moore, a 6-foot-1, 260-pound defensive tackle who had 34 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2011, is halfway to that TFL total five games into his senior season, leading the Vandals with 17, which puts him among the region's elite. Moore's 58 tackles are also tops on his team, quite a feat for an interior lineman.
Hunter Hopkins, Hunter Redmond, and Brandon Farmer have combined for 18 tackles for loss, notching six apiece, and Ben Buchanan has five. That quartet plus Moore have accounted for 40 of the Vandals' 45 tackles for loss.