Westinghouse leaning on defense, attitude
Sunday, August 19, 2018 | 11:39 PM
If there’s one thing the Westinghouse football team wants to do each Friday night this season, it’s to play their own bullying brand of football.
That type of mentality resonates in the type of offense the Bulldogs want to run, and especially in the type of defense they want to put forth in the City League this year.
“Offensively, we’re an old-school sort of team. We want to establish the run early, keep the ball, run that clock and keep the ball away from opposing offenses,” Westinghouse coach Monte Robinson said.
“That same mentality, it’s easy to transfer from the offensive side of the ball to do the defensive side of the ball. On defense, we want to be strong and aggressive. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll finesse you every once in a while, but we’re not going to make a habit out of it.”
With only seven starters returning, Robinson and the rest of the coaching staff are working to form that mentality in the early goings of the season to prepare the more inexperienced starters for what is expected. But if those newly-minted varsity players need an example of what a strong and aggressive approach looks like, they shouldn’t have to look too far.
Of the seven starters returning for Westinghouse, four are part of the team’s defensive front seven. The Bulldogs return junior All-City defensive end Dayon Hayes, senior defensive end Willie Knight, along with senior linebackers Eryk Burgess and Dana Morris.
“Eryk is sort of our enforcer in the middle; we expect him to do a great job of shutting down folks’ run games. Willie and Dana, we expect big things from them, too,” Robinson said.
“Our defense has always been our strength. As coaches, we want to be developing a system that guys can succeed in every year. I think we’re really starting to see the fruits of that now because these guys look ready to succeed and make their mark here.”
The wild card of the team’s defense is Hayes, who measures in at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. Robinson calls the junior one of the best, if not the best, defender in the City League, and says he plans to use him at both defensive end and linebacker in order to maximize his adaptability. It’s a challenge to learn two positions, according to Hayes, but it’s a challenge he’s excited to take on.
“It changes my mentality, but at the same time, it doesn’t,” Hayes said.
“I still have to be aggressive. Playing linebacker, too, it means I have to get my IQ up. I have to be able to see the quarterback, the linemen, what they want to do and how they’re going to do it. It’s an extra responsibility, but I want it.”
Offensively, Hayes will help pave the way for Westinghouse’s run-first attack as an offensive tackle. Behind him, senior Jean Faison appears to be the frontrunner for the team’s quarterback job, while the running game will feature a stable of athletes, including Burgess, Marcus Peterson and Taye Moore.
Though the offense, even more so than the defense, for Westinghouse, may suffer from a lack of experience, Robinson said he and his players are building that same mentality that he wants Westinghouse football to be known for.
“These guys, they’re definitely aggressive. They want to make their mark. They want to be the team that brings the championship back to the ‘House,” Robinson said.
“But we got our work cut out for us. We’re kind of flying under the radar because we don’t have a bunch of guys coming back. These guys here, though, they have pride.”
Coach: Monte Robinson
2017 record: 5-5, 3-2
All-time record: 565-320-40
Date, Opponent, Time
8.25, at OLSH, 3 p.m.
9.1, at Linsly School, W.Va., 1:30 p.m.
9.7, University Prep*, 7 p.m.
9.13, at Allderdice*, 7 p.m.
9.20, Carrick*, 7 p.m.
9.28, Brashear*, 3:30 p.m.
10.5, at Hickory, 7 p.m.
10.12, at Perry*, 7 p.m.
*City League game
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.