In 2014, the Greenwood football team lost its final five games while surrendering an average of 35.2 points.
The Woodmen vowed to be better this year and are.
Coach Mike Campbell’s defense is allowing only 20.4 points per game entering Friday night’s Class 4A Sectional 21 championship game against visiting Roncalli.
“We knew we had the chance to be pretty solid because the middle of our defense had a lot of experience,” Campbell said, alluding to senior tackles Jordan Anderson and Patrick Lowenstein, senior middle linebacker Brayton England and junior safety Dylan Rosado.
“The defense has brought consistent effort week in and week out.”
England averages 11.7 tackles per outing to lead the Woodmen in that category. Rosado is next at 8.2, followed by junior linebacker A.J. Montgomery (7.1) and Anderson (5.8).
Another factor in Greenwood’s improvement has been the rapid development of Jake Patton and Nick Young, sophomores who are the team’s starting defensive ends. Patton averages 6.4 tackles a game, and Young averages 5.3.
Another sophomore making an impact is linebacker Tim Johns (6.3).
“They have matured faster than we thought they might,” Campbell said. “It’s a credit to what (defensive coordinator) Jerrod Watson and the defensive staff have done.”
Greenwood’s defense also has sacked opposing quarterbacks a total of 19 times, England alone being credited with 8.5 and Patton and Young with four apiece.
Meanwhile, senior defensive Jackson Daugherty has been all over the place and then some for the Woodmen.
Daugherty is Greenwood’s leading receiver (32 receptions for 832 yards), averages 4.5 tackles per game as a starting cornerback and is up to eight interceptions for the season, having nabbed two apiece in sectional victories over Beech Grove and previously unbeaten Northview.
Overall, a pretty plucky bunch that preserved last week’s 29-17 win against No. 10 Northview with some late-game heroics. In the closing seconds, junior safety Will Wolf stripped the ball from a Knights running back at the 1-yard line. Rosado scooped it up and raced 99 yards for a game-saving touchdown.
“As the year has gone along I think the underclassmen have done a great job of stepping up,” England said. “The offseason was a huge way to get them ready. I think the way they’ve handled it is extraordinary.”