The Dollarway Cardinals have started the season with records of 4-0 and 1-0 in the 2-4A Conference.
They started off with the same records last year. One difference is the two shutouts from the Cardinals’ defense this year.
In the third game of the season the Cardinals traveled to Crossett and shutout the Eagles 36-0. Last week, the defense topped the previous performance at Newport and defeated the Greyhounds 42-0.
“We don’t go out foreseeing a shutout, but as the third quarter comes and the score says zero and the fourth quarter comes, it seems like it gives them extra momentum,” Dollarway defensive coordinator Darrin Kidd said. “They get more aggressive and play harder because, at that point, they don’t want anybody to score on them.”
Another difference this year is that through four games into the season, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents 154-22. Cardinals head coach Cortez Lee recognizes that the play of the defense carries over into their offense.
“If your defense is playing shutout football or containing a team to a certain amount of yards and points, then all we (offense) have to do is come out, secure touchdowns and we’ll have a great chance of winning,” expressed Lee.
“It also helps with the offensive psyche. When they see the defense playing hard with a lot of enthusiasm and playing with pride, it infuses on the other side of the ball.”
And one thing that the defense of the Cardinals can pride themselves on is that they have yet to give up a rushing touchdown this season. Senior defensive lineman Nicholas Woodfork, who serves as a co-captain and anchor of the defense, believes that there’s a message that the Cardinals’ defense has sent.
“We got to humble everybody and tell them what we’re here for, a state championship”, stated Woolfork, who leads the team in sacks with six and tackles for loss with 10. “Being here for three years, I kind of know what the feeling is right now. We know we got a good team this year. We just got to stay focused, be disciplined and we’ve got to want it more this year.”
The two themes of focus and discipline echoed through junior linebacker Chaderius Avery. He leads the team in tackles with 52, with 26 of those being solo.
“We’re hungry and we want it. We talk to each other and keep each other in line. One of us might get an attitude, but my teammates will tell each other that you got to stay focused.”
Dollarway is still ranked No. 3 in Class 4A and will host Marianna this Friday for homecoming. Last year the Cardinals defeated the Trojans 64-0.
If history were to repeat itself again this Friday night, junior linebacker Cordera McDonald believes that the defense will have to depend on each other to get it done.
“We’ve known each other ever since we were little. We’re really a family so we keep everything copasetic,” stated McDonald.
The second leading tackler on defense acknowledges that no one get the job done alone.
“We help each other. Chaderius (Avery) and Nic (Woodfork) will help me if I don’t know something until I get back on my horse and keep things going”, expressed McDonald.
Kidd credits the performance of the defense this season due to the level of discipline.
“We play as one unit, we beat as one heart,” he said. “You can’t come out here and have one guy doing one thing and two guys doing their own thing. It’s cohesive. The more cohesiveness we have, the better we are and we’re getting the guys to believe in that.”