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'Cats 'D' picks up from 2001

The smothering attack continues in a rout of Lake Placid.

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002


WESLEY CHAPEL -- Lost in the well-deserved hype surrounding Wesley Chapel's offense last year was a defense that posted four shutouts and held three other teams to seven points or less.

In Friday night's season opener against Lake Placid, that defense stepped forward again, still in the offense's shadow but recording another shutout.

So dominant were the Wildcats in a 43-0 win that Lake Placid accepted a running clock in the second half. The first time the Dragons drove to the Wesley Chapel 10-yard line, the Wildcats pushed them back to the 40. In the closing minutes, Lake Placid marched again and got to the Wesley Chapel 1, calling timeout with 9.7 seconds left.

With mostly reserves on the field, the 'Cats stuffed quarterback Dwayne Pollard for no gain, keeping the shutout intact and unknowingly completing another goal. Wesley Chapel was aiming to limit the Dragons to 100 yards of total offense. When the defense stopped Lake Placid on the 1-yard line, it kept the Dragons at exactly 100.

"It gave the game a nice finish," Wildcats coach John Castelamare said. "Where was the ball, the one-foot line there? It was exciting."

The defensive line had been a concern, with all-state end Jason Boyd and fellow starter Jason Boyette lost to graduation. Defensive tackle Derrick Gentles led a strong attack that held the Dragons to negative rushing yardage until the last drive. Wesley Chapel dropped Pollard for losses on the final three plays of the first half, getting sacks from senior Chase Polston, junior Travis Ugarte and another split between Ugarte and Cory Filley. Linebackers Maurice Standifer and Chris Roberts also had their share of heavy hits.

Consider the second-half offensive numbers: Lake Placid ran 34 plays, Wesley Chapel three. The Dragons racked up 74 yards, the 'Cats 70. Wesley Chapel spent nearly the entire half -- albeit a short one -- on the field, but the Wildcats succeeded in allowing Lake Placid almost nothing to show for it. The Dragons' third quarter goes down as an 18-play, 23-yard drive, with 20 of those yards coming on two penalties.

The question is how long the Wildcats can continue their zero-tolerance defensive dominance. Their next two games are against River Ridge and Gulf, losers Friday who didn't score against Wesley Chapel last year.

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