Eagles relying on stout defense

Stratford’s defenders have been a team strength this season. (Photo courtesy of Stratford Sports Information.)

By NICK DOROGY, Gazebo Sports Writer

After reaching the state semifinals last year, Stratford looks to outdo its impressive performance.

But the loss of key players has threatened to hold the team back.

Stratford’s 2015-16 offense proved to be the dominate power. This season, the team’s strength is on the other side of the ball and is expected to be a key part of the Eagles’ success on the field.

“I think the defense has the potential to be one of the best we have had at Stratford in a long time … we have a lot of talent on the line and the secondary is very good,” said junior defensive lineman Tobe Umerah. “I think that our season will still be very difficult but the fact that we have a solid defense is a huge boost. We have been working every day this summer to get the defense up to the place it is now.”

The defense already has recorded a “pick-six” in their opener against Savannah Country Day that saw the Eagles shutout their opponent 24-0.  

“I think the defense will be our key component this year” said junior Sammy Martin, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the opening game. “We know what we can accomplish after shutting out Savannah Country Day. It should be a big year.”

Coach Mark Farriba showed nothing but support for his defense.

“Unlike the last two years, I think our defense is going to be the anchor,” Farriba said. “They’re going to have to get it done.”

Farriba added that his “expectations are very high” for the defense’s upcoming season.

Although the Eagles fell 13-3 last Friday against second-ranked Landmark Christian, the game was dominated by a fierce defensive battle. The Eagles defensive efforts were interrupted by two big plays from Landmark resulting in touchdowns.

The Eagles are 1-1 and go on the road for the second straight week. They will play Atkinson County on Friday.