There’s a weathered adage among top-flight pass rushers that goes as follows: We’ll meet at the quarterback.
It’s difficult to imagine Indian Creek defensive end Vince Reese mouthing these words to tackle Wess Cornett (or vise versa) during the heated course of a football game, though their statistics suggest otherwise.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Reese has registered nine quarterback sacks for the Braves (9-2) this season entering Friday night’s Class 3A sectional final at Greensburg (9-2), a sum that in most programs would put the senior well ahead in that department.
But not at Indian Creek.
At a glance
Senior end Vince Reese and junior tackle Wess Cornett have produced outstanding seasons thus far for Indian Creek’s defense. The following is a breakdown of where they stand among Braves players statistically:
Cornett (tied for first)
Reese (tied for first)
Cornett (tied for third)
Cornett, a 6-1, 220-pound junior, also has nine sacks to co-lead lead a Braves defense that in its 11 games has taken the opposing quarterback down 26 times behind the line of scrimmage.
“They both have been really good for us. I knew coming into the season that Wess had a lot of talent, and he comes up with big play after big play,” said Indian Creek coach Mike Gillin, whose program finds itself in a sectional final for a fourth consecutive season. “And Vince is just the kind of guy you need on the edge.
“He’s got really good speed off the ball and is just a very intelligent player.”
The Braves’ defense as a whole has been outstanding the past four weeks, allowing a total of 20 points in victories against Broad Ripple, South Decatur, Rushville and Beech Grove.
“Our starting defensive front four, none of them play offense and that helps,” Gillin said. “Our coaches do a great job and the defense has gotten better and better and better.”
Not surprisingly, Cornett and Reese also are the Braves’ leading tacklers with 87 and 86, respectively. Cornett’s three forced fumbles is also tops, as is Reese’s three fumble recoveries.
Both players have been models of consistency, with Cornett getting at least one sack in eight of the Braves’ games and Reese tallying no less than five tackles on eight occasions.
“Wess is the strongest kid on our team and is by far the quickest guy on the team. Just an unbelievable athlete,” Reese said. “He’s a defensive end at heart, but he’s just such a great athlete that he can play tackle for us.”
Cornett notes the contrasting styles, his more physical, Reese’s more thoughtful.
“I’m pretty fast at getting out of my stance,” said Cornett, who bench-presses 300 pounds and squats 485. “With Vince, he uses his head. He thinks things out.”
Reese’s cerebral path to success — and the quarterback — begins with film study of that week’s opponent.
“I think I excel with my quickness, but coaching and being prepared helps a lot,” said Reese, the younger brother of former Braves quarterback Trey Reese, who’s a sophomore at top-ranked NAIA Marian University. “We’re constantly looking at film. I love it.
“Saturday mornings are my favorite.”
Unless, Reese adds with a laugh, Indian Creek has lost the night before. Fortunately for the Braves, that hasn’t happened since a Week 2 setback against Class 4A Greenwood on Aug. 24.
Crediting two players with what the Braves have been able to accomplish this season basically amounts to a 10-yard kick for a 50-yard field goal try. It comes up well short.
Gillin points to the roles players such as end Justin Cochran and tackles Ryan Weems and Brien Budd play in his 4-4 scheme. Third-leading tackler Austin Wethington (with 77) and junior free safety Brenden Smith with eight interceptions are vital cogs, as well. There are others aplenty.
But during those times when Indian Creek’s defense is on the field and the other team’s quarterback finds himself quickly retreating, odds are Reese and Cornett have called a meeting.