U. Dublin de­fense faces a tough test

Af­ter two game-sav­ing per­for­mances in crunch time, Up­per Dublin D faces tough test against Spring­field

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ed Mor­lock emor­lock@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @emor09 on Twit­ter

In the first two rounds of the Dis­trict 1 Class 5A play­offs, Up­per Dublin’s de­fense has made game-win­ning plays when it needed to the most.

Against Rad­nor in the first round, the Car­di­nals de­fense was on the field for three pos­ses­sions af­ter the of­fense tied the game at 21. The first was four plays and a punt. The sec­ond and third drives — both com­ing af­ter the Car­di­nals took a 27-21 lead — were three­and-outs.

“One of the things we say is, ‘In crunch time, you get a chance to show what a great de­fense you are,’” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dave Sow­ers said. “That’s when you have to rise to the oc­ca­sion. When your back’s against the wall ... we have to do our job. Our job is to de­fend the end zone and don’t

“One of the things we say is, ‘In crunch time, you get a chance to show what a great de­fense you are.’” — Dave Sow­ers, Up­per Dublin de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor

let them in.”

Se­nior de­fen­sive line­man Chris Smith forced one of the punts with a sack on 3rd-and-11 and — on Rad­nor’s fi­nal pos­ses­sion — se­nior line­backer Max Wine­brake made back-to-back tack­les on 2nd-and-5 and 3rd-and-7 to force an­other punt.

In the quar­ter­fi­nals against Acad­emy Park, sopho­more safety Mike Slivka grabbed an in­ter­cep­tion in the end zone with 4:14 re­main­ing in the game and the Car­di­nals hold­ing a 17-6 ad­van­tage.

Acad­emy Park made it 17-12 when it re­turned a fum­ble for a touch­down and took over at Up­per Dublin’s 25-yard line when the Car­di­nals snapped the ball too high on a punt.

Wine­brake sacked Acad­emy Park’s quar­ter­back on first down at the 15-yard line and ju­nior cor­ner­back Selvin Haynes knocked away a fourth-down pass in the end one to seal the win.

“They didn’t go out and point fin­gers,” head coach Bret Stover said. “Some­times you see that. Our kids just went out and knew they had to stop them, they knew they wanted to stop them and they went out and stopped them. It’s a 50/50 ball (Haynes knocked away). We didn’t make that play against Quak­er­town (ear­lier in the sea­son). We did make that play against Acad­emy Park and it’s why we’re still play­ing.”

Up­per Dublin is get­ting con­tri­bu­tions from every level of its de­fense. Smith on the line, Wine­brake and Ma­lik Boot­man at line­backer and Haynes and Slivka in the sec­ondary are just some of the play­ers mak­ing game-chang­ing plays.

“(Ev­ery­one on de­fense be­lieves) in each other,” Sow­ers said. “Our motto is this sim­ple — you do your job be­cause the guy next to you is do­ing his. They made plays but that’s what their job is. Each in­di­vid­ual guy just has to step up when it’s their turn to step up.”

The Car­di­nals de­fense — which al­lows 15 points per game — will face its big­gest test yet in the semi­fi­nals against Spring­field Delco Fri­day night.

The top-seeded Cougars are 12-0 this year. They’ve scored more than 40 points five times and less than 28 just two times.

Spring­field’s of­fense fea­tures two run­ning backs — bruis­ing se­nior Ja’den McKe­nie and speedy se­nior Philip Shovlin.

“They have a good line and their run­ning backs,” Wine­brake said of the Cougars’ of­fen­sive strengths. “They’re just pretty good over­all.”

“They’re so well-bal­anced,” Sow­ers added. “A lot of se­niors and they have a great scheme — great coach­ing staff. They’re rock solid. It causes night­mares. It causes havoc in try­ing to fig­ure out. I won’t lie — some sleep­less nights so far. That’s what we’re try­ing to do — put our kids in the best spot that we can and let’s play some foot­ball.”

BOB RAINES — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Up­per Dublin’s Ma­lik Boot­man and Max Wine­brake tackle Quak­er­town’s Michael Terra.

RICK KAUFFMAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Acad­emy Park’s last hope was a 4th down at­tempt to re­ceiver Lo­gan Heim, right, that was bro­ken up by Up­per Dublin cor­ner­back Selvin Haynes, left.

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