Huntington High's immovable object
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington High might not have the offensive fireworks that cross-county rival Cabell Midland does, but the Highlanders haven't needed much in the 2013 football season because of a suffocating defense.
After the annual "Battle for the Shield" at Huntington High last year, Cabell Midland running back David Gaydosz called the Highlanders defense "legit" after the Knights escaped with a 14-13 win.
Huntington High lost several seniors on that defense from a season ago, but has been just as stifling in 2013, beating opponents by an average of 32.0 to 4.6 over the first three games. The Highlanders haven't allowed an opponent to gain more than 200 yards in any single game.
"To me, that's when you know you've got a program, and not just a team," said Huntington High head coach Billy Seals of the Highlanders' defensive success over multiple seasons. "If you've built a good team, you lose three or four guys off the starting offensive line or defense and you struggle the next season. If you've built a program, you go right along even when you've lost six of your starters from last year."
The Highlanders' stout defense will try to contain a Cabell Midland offense that is averaging more than 500 yards on the ground per game when the two meet Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the 2013 edition of the "Battle for the Shield" on Huntington High's home field.
The Highlanders are rated No. 1 in the state in Class AAA football, while the Knights are No. 2. Last year, both teams were rated in the top spot going into the rivalry game.
Seals said his philosophy in building a good defense is finding "11 guys with a fire in their belly who want to fly to the football."
"We find guys who want to be aggressive and get to the football with bad intentions, and then we just coach them up," Seals said.
This year's squad also has a lot of flexibility in being able to switch positions without having to make substitutions. The Highlanders will sometimes show a three-man, four-man and five-man defensive front with the same personnel.
"I think that makes us hard to scheme against somewhat," Seals said. "That's props to our kids for being smart football players and knowing what to do."
"It's a good feeling know that if our offense is having problems we have the defense to go out there and help them out," said senior defensive lineman Nigale Cabell.
Senior linebacker Gregory May said the defense is a tight unit, going as far as to pat Cabell on the chest and say "One team, one heartbeat."
"It also feels good to know we've got one of the best defenses in the state," he added.