Friday, December 15, 2017
Sports

Largo's defense tends to dazzle more than usual vs. East Lake

LARGO — East Lake's aerial attack has struck fear in opposing defenses the past two years. The Eagles can fling the ball downfield with their electrifying receiving duo of George Campbell and Artavis Scott gaining separation and streaking into the end zone.

Largo's hard-hitting defense, however, has been like kryptonite to East Lake's high-octane offense.

The Packers (1-0) have won the past two meetings by a combined score of 63-17, holding the Eagles to fewer than 200 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, one of which was caught by Scott.

The success of Largo's defense is not attributed to any exotic scheme to create confusion or special game plan to take away the big play from East Lake's receivers.

The Packers simply exert their will and force the game to be played on their terms.

"We just try to play fundamentally sound defense and hit the other team as hard as we can," Largo defensive coordinator Jeremy Frioud said. "Usually, offenses don't like that."

Playing against Largo's defense is like coming across the neighborhood tough guy in a dark alley. The Packers use a combination of physical play, sure tackling and timely blitzes.

"When you play against us, you're going to get hit and you're going to get hit hard," Largo defensive back Cordell Hudson said.

This brawling defense does not only have bulging muscles, but also a solid IQ.

That starts with Hudson, a cornerback who can do it all: shadow the speediest receivers and bump the tallest off course. He can run, leap, tackle, intercept. He also doubles as a defensive magician, the player who makes elite wideouts disappear.

Hudson is like having an extra defender because he removes a wide area of the field, essentially by himself. He frees up the safety or cornerback who would provide help to do something else, to blitz or cover another receiver or stalk another area of the field.

Hudson said he held Campbell to one catch when the two were matched against each other last year. He doesn't know which receiver he will be defending tonight.

"Whoever is on the right side of the field, I'll have them covered," Hudson said.

It should be noted the East Lake offense operated at only half speed last year because Scott was suspended. But the Eagles (1-0) also are breaking in a new quarterback.

Jake Hudson — taking over for county passing leader Pete DiNovo — fared well in Week 1, completing 4 of 6 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown against Palm Harbor University.

Now comes the biggest test.

"This is always a good matchup, one that seems to bring out the best in us," Cordell Hudson said. "It's a really good offense with a lot of playmakers. I know we'll be ready."

Bob Putnam can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @BobbyHomeTeam.

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