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It is all in the numbers. Most of the stats heard by Bulldog fans this season have come from the offense, as records are falling, and the ‘Dawgs are averaging 36.7 points a game.
On the flip side, looking at the Bulldogs’ defense the last two years, the difference in numbers are a testament to New Albany’s success so far.
In 2009, New Albany allowed 275 total points in 12 games. With this Friday night’s game against Tishomingo County marking the 11th of the season, the ‘Dawgs have yet to hit the century mark on points allowed (86). Of the 86 points, 14 were allowed off turnovers, meaning the defense has given up only 72 points in 10 games.
The cause for this success? A team that has gelled together under a coaching staff that made it their priority to turn this unit around.
“When this coaching staff came together a couple of years ago, this unit really struggled,” head coach Ron Price said. “The year before I took over, we gave up around 490 points and were giving up around 41 points a game. We had our hands full turning this unit around and it was a longer process than we had hoped, but the kids kept buying in to what we were doing and we found a defense we thought we could be successful with this season. I’m thrilled that they’ve been as good as they have been.”
As far as individual accomplishments, the ‘Dawgs currently have six different players with interceptions, seven with sacks (Austin Howard and Devonte Bradley each have four) and two currently boast over 100 tackles (Riley Alef and Zach Hand).
The biggest numbers come in division play, as the Bulldogs have clinched their first district title thanks to holding each opponent below their season average. Going into the Shannon game, the Red Raiders were averaging 30.3 ppg and were held to only 13. Same with Itawamba, who averaged 26 per game and were held to 13.
“That’s it. If the other team doesn’t score, it’s hard for them to win,” Price said. “They feed off of each other now, and they take pride in playing defense and bringing the wood. It’s been a lot of fun to watch them this year.”
The regular season will come to a close this Friday night, as the Bulldogs will host the Braves. Despite their 1-9 record, New Albany has preached all week that their preparation will be the same as any other week.
Kickoff for tonight’s game is 7 p.m., with senior night festivities scheduled beforehand.
-Mike Alef contributed with this story