By Robert Przybylo
I’ve talked to Jordan Marczewski, Blake Umberham, Adrian Shoecraft and Nelson Medeiros. They’re all in agreement. That was the best defensive performance they’ve ever been a part of.
Alright, well maybe that was just the heat of the moment. So I called head coach Justin Merideth and asked the same thing. Since he was the defensive coordinator all those years, knew he would have some perspective.
Nope, all in agreement. With what was on the line (Edlam, city championship, second place in the district), Merideth cannot remember a better outing. In a game those Memorial kids will remember, the defense played lights out in a 10-0 win against North.
Memorial 10, North 0
I’ve praised the defense and will continue to do so, but I want to talk about what I thought was key.
Memorial took over at its own 5-yard line with 10:40 left in the fourth quarter. North didn’t see the ball again until the three-minute mark. A nearly eight-minute drive that really only got to midfield, but it drained the North defense.
The Bulldogs had three third down conversions on the drive. It finally stalled once Josh Sierra was banged up, and Cale Olbert had to move to fullback instead of running back.
But the damage was done. North earned one first down before Travis Townsend’s pass sailed into the arms of Medeiros, who went down the sidelines for the game’s only touchdown.
I thought the first half was sloppy and said so in the game blog. But the second half was all defense. One big stick after another, both ways. It’s going to get lost in Memorial’s outing, but North gave up less than 100 yards of total offense.
It wasn’t Kameron Doolittle or Joe Aska Jr. It was Colton Byford and Jared Chambers. Those were the difference makers. Chambers changes the game with his sack of Townsend. Townsend throws three interceptions after that sack.
And Will Conant. He boomed that 44-yard field goal into the wind like nothing. Austin Brasher couldn’t return the favor on his field goal attempt. Both were solid on kickoffs as was expected.
It was fitting that the defense ended up scoring the only TD.
- I won’t second-guess coach Jeremy Dombek as he knows his players, but I thought Danny Rossi should have been in at QB in the second half. I just didn’t see Townsend with any strength to throw. It was all arm throws in the final 24 minutes.
- I will give Doolittle credit for this. When nothing was there, he accepted it. That was key. Take the sack or short loss and punt. Don’t turn it over. You don’t worry about individual stats in a game like that.
- Memorial OL Matt Hall said the team that had the least mistakes would win. Sure enough, it was exactly that way.
- That celebration scene was, for the lack of a better term, awesome. The raw emotion that came out from the players and coaches is why we do what we do. And Medeiros being hoisted on the shoulders, c’mon, priceless stuff.
Final analysis: In the five-game winning streak, Memorial has given up 0, 7, 3, 7 and 0 points. Yep, 17 points in five games. That’s why the Bulldogs will be hosting a first-round playoff game, and that’s why Ryan Aber (and of course, myself) have ‘em in the top 10 for the first time this season.
North has some injury issues. Townsend with the ankle and Qua’Don Henderson’s ankle issue. And Aska seems like he is wearing down a little. He hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards in the last three weeks. The defense played as well as it possibly could, so I’m not getting off the bandwagon yet.
Up next: Memorial (6-3, 5-1) is at Putnam City to close out the regular season while North (7-2, 4-2) will have its senior night against Westmoore. North is guaranteed to place third in the district.
Look for videos galore on NewsOK this weekend. I was at North’s pep rally, and that black light party was fun. And then, of course, I was all over the Memorial mob scene at the end and talked with Nelson Medeiros once again. Also, look for a big story on Blake Umberham in Monday’s paper. You’ll see why once you read it.