Gladewater Looks to Keep Rolling Following Dominant Defensive Performance
When a team's performance surprises even its coach, you know it was good.
Such was the case with Gladewater's defensive night against Chapel Hill last Friday.
"I don't think I've ever seen anything like it," Gladewater coach John Berry said.
Just how dominant was it? The Bears held Chapel Hill to minus-43 yards of total offense, including 71 below zero on the ground and 28 through the air.
"I was amazed," Berry said. "Chapel Hill had some bad luck when their quarterback got hurt later in the game, but I give our kids credit, they played hard and were aggressive defensively. I think Chapel Hill is a whole lot better than that and I don't know if we're quite that good for those kind of numbers, but we made some big plays."
The 30-0 shutout of Chapel Hill was easily the Bears' most dominating performance of 2016, but they also put up two big wins prior to that against Center and Kilgore. Gladewater's season-opener against Carthage was canceled because of weather.
Now the only thing on the 3-0 Bears' minds is to build on their undefeated record. Another defensive performance like last Friday night isn't likely, but Berry said it's a good launching pad toward the rest of the season.
"You get some confidence in that when things come together, you execute the plan really well and play really hard, you have the opportunity to defend people," Berry said.
It only gets harder from here for Gladewater, which faces Lindale in its final non-district game on Friday night. The Bears are off next week before taking on a brutal District 7-4A Division II schedule with the likes of Gilmer, Pittsburg, Atlanta, Pleasant Grove and Spring Hill.
"(Performances like last week) are the sort of thing that only goes as far as the last time you were out there. You turn right around and play one of the teams on our schedule -- and pick pretty much anybody -- and have a bad game, they'll put up a lot of numbers on you," Berry said. "But you can defend good nowadays and give up four touchdowns. We just have to execute on both sides of the ball."
But just like its defense, Gladewater has an offense that's doing some good things this season. The Bears moved Cameron Callaway Jr. from receiver to quarterback this season and with his athleticism coupled with their strong running game, Gladewater is just as dangerous on the offensive side of the ball.
Callaway put up 144 total yards of offense against Chapel Hill with a touchdown, while Darnell McKnight ran for 113 yards and a score and Isaiah Davis added two more touchdowns on the ground. McKnight and Davis have combined for eight touchdowns this season.
"It starts with Cameron Callaway and his execution of our running game. We put a lot on our quarterbacks here. He has to be able to go to the line of scrimmage, be able to go through a set of options and look for the best play to put us in, and he's done a good job of handling that," Berry said. "On top of that we've had a couple of new guys come in on the offensive line and pick up where we left off. Our offensive line has been really big for us here. You wouldn't be able to run the ball the way we do if it wasn't."
When it comes to the teams that are left on Gladewater's schedule -- namely the likes of arch-rival Gilmer, Pittsburg and Atlanta -- Berry said his team's focus can't be on what's happening elsewhere, but on the Bears' own field. Then success will follow.
"Our mindset is that Gladewater is at the top of the list. As soon as we look at a big block of material like those district games, we'll lose focus," Berry said. "What is feasible every day is to focus on us. There are plenty of things to look at, plenty to improve upon and plenty to get better at every day when we just look at ourselves. The focus has to be on Gladewater."