Panthers have limited last 2 opponents to 12 total points

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FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista’s defense has started to push foes around the last two weeks.

The Panthers are limiting the big plays, and they’re doing everything in bunches, from group tackling in zone coverage to timely pass breakups and interceptions.

“We bend, but don’t break. We do anything for each other,” outside linebacker James Tompkins said. “The big momentum plays definitely help out, no question about it. They’re incredibly important, every one of them. Every time we get a play, confidence skyrockets.”

PV (2-1) has surrendered just 12 total points in its back-to-back home against St. Pius and Valley, largely because players are developing a stronger sense of good timing and distance getting to the ball.

“We’ve been pretty stingy with (defending) the run game. Teams are becoming one dimensional. We starting to figure out our pressures. We’re starting to figure out where we are in coverage,” coach Jared Howell said.

Howell also said it helps that this year’s group sees and processes things quicker, admitting he’s “notorious” for being late sending play calls to his defenders on the field. PV has still been able to produce while winging it at times.

“We’re always trying to fly around and make plays,” Tompkins said.

PV has someone there up front, ready to chase down foes in the backfield. The linebackers close off open space to ensure opposing gains are minimal. And the secondary cuts and turns while anticipating deeper throws, batting down the ball or disrupting routes to where it’s difficult for opposing wide receivers to even touch the ball.

That pressure keeps going on and on, front to back. And every key stop is another spark of confidence.

“They’re really growing exponentially,” Howell said. “With that confidence comes the speed and reaction. If your eyes are in the right place, your butt will be, too.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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