Top-ranked Jeannette’s defense on a tear

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Thursday, September 26, 2019 | 4:08 PM


Jeannette senior linebacker Justin Cramer expected the Jayhawks’ defense to be strong, but even he is impressed with the team’s string of three consecutive shutouts.

Jeannette has allowed the fewest points in the WPIAL, 18 (3.3 a game), and has blanked Imani Christian, Avella and Springdale all in a row.

“I trust in my guys,” Cramer said. “We know defense wins championships.”

Cramer said the defense’s stellar play is equal parts chemistry, speed and organization. The Jayhawks (5-0), ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL and No. 2 in the state, are simply working better as a group.

A number of players have invaded opposing backfields and have the Hudl highlights to prove it.

“It all ties together,” said Cramer, who had 13.5 tackles in last week’s win 43-0 win at Springdale. “We have the speed but we also have a good football IQ. We have really good linebackers and a good secondary. Our communication has been really good. We all watch film.”

Jeannette held Springdale to one yard passing.

Cramer has 41 tackles — 20 solo and 21 assisted — with 13.5 going for losses. He also has 2.5 sacks.

As a team, Jeannette has 48 stops for negative yardage.

Senior defensive end Zach Crutchman has 25 tackles and junior linebacker Roberto Smith, Jr. has 22.

In addition, the Jayhawks have 11 interceptions, three each from sophomore Brett Birch and senior Jackson Pruitt. Both have returned a pick for a score, as has Smith.

“They all play very well together,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “They get to the ball, they gang-tackle, and they do what they’re supposed to. We rotate six d-linemen in to keep them fresh.”

Jeannette gave up just 8.8 points a game last year, 105 total, but surrendered a large chunk of that in a 27-0 loss to Rochester in the WPIAL Class A semifinals.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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