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Farmers replace two starters on defensive line

by | Jul 25, 2023 | Sports

Farmersville’s defense showed a vast improvement in 2022, thanks in large part to a scheme change and development on the defensive line.

The Farmers took a more conservative approach to their defense and relied on their line of scrimmage to handle additional pressure. Luckily for them, seniors Andrew Pike and Conner Kelley were more than up to the task, and head coach Zac Quinlan said they did a terrific job last season.

“I think a big reason for our success was that the scheme fit our players a lot better,” Quinlan said. “We’re going to do things differently this year than what we did last year, but schematically it’ll look similar. Andrew and Conner were both move-ins last season and did a good job, but now we’ll have to fill those roles again.”

Younger players did manage to get some reps last season, helping to head into this year. The current guys angling for starting spots are juniors Jackson Latimer and Cristian Castro, along with junior Mark Vasquez who steps into the starting nose guard position in the Farmers 3-4 defensive scheme.

Latimer and Castro were on the varsity team last season in backup roles, and coach Quinlan believes they did a good job this spring getting stronger in the weight room to prepare for becoming new starters.

Latimer has 20 tackles in his career at Farmersville and has continued to work in the weight room in 2023, as the team expects big things from him for this season.

“He’s only going to get better and he’s put some muscle on his frame this summer,” Quinlan said. “He’s always been a strong kid who can move bodies around and is one of the most hard-working kids in the program. He knows the speed now and is growing into being a varsity defensive lineman.”

Part of the scheme change for the Farmers was to get more opportunities for their linebackers to make plays on the field. While it’s not the most celebrated position on the field, the players know the job they have to do and largely have executed it for the team’s success.

“You get a lot of credit when you get a sack, but for the most part you’re not talked about a lot on the defensive line,” Quinlan said. “We have to do our job at every position, and part of that is letting teammates make plays. It’s an important role on the field.”

One of those positions in particular is at nose guard, where a player’s goal is to constantly take on two or three offensive linemen at a time. As Vasquez steps into that position, his work rate and willingness to help the team win has been key.

“He’s really impressed me through the summer and offseason,” Quinlan said. “I would’ve never said two years ago when he first got here he was going to be one of our top guys, but he’s been here every day and has put in the work to be successful. He’s a big kid and is running with some of our other linemen. Powerlifting has helped him get a lot better.”

Part of the development of Vasquez and many of the Farmersville defensive linemen that have been so successful is the development of the team’s strength and conditioning program. As the kids have gotten bigger, it’s led to more success.

“You typically don’t have to worry about getting linemen in the weight room honestly,” Quinlan said. “Our kids have done a really good job of buying into our strength program and coach Anderson and coach Searson have done a really good job of creating workouts that are fun and engaging.”

Behind the three starters, Tate Quinlan, Tayshaun Davis, and Diego Capetillo will also get reps on the defensive line, along with a younger player in Jose Acosta. While Quinlan, Davis and Capetillo will feature on the offensive line, how they manage their reps will be key in a physically demanding position.

“We’ve been working on them in the offseason to build their bodies up and be smart about the way we practice,” Quinlan said. “The way we create our practice schedule and manage their amount of contact, because they will need time to rest and let their bodies recuperate.”

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