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10 Reasons to Love the ‘Darkside Defense’

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(By Coach Wayne Anderson, Jr.) RANCHO MIRAGE –Any Star Wars movie fan can tell you that the ‘dark side’ has powers similar to those of a Jedi — an energy drawn from passion, and enhanced by emotion. Toss in a little telepathy, psychokinesis and precognition, and you’ve got a pretty accurate description of the 2013 edition of the mouth-foaming SoCal Coyote ‘Darkside Defense,’ a youthful group of under-sized, under-estimated warriors willing to viciously Defend the Shield.

Opponents may attack the Darkside, but at their own risk, and not without consequence. The Coyotes demand a lot on defense.  First, the team seldom punts, which football purists argue leaves the defense at a field-position disadvantage. Second, there is the constant pressure for the defense to get the ball back in the hands of its high-scoring Run ‘n’ Shoot offense: The strategy of opposing teams is to keep Coyote quarterback Nate Lewis on the bench, where he and his rabid pack of high-scoring canine receivers can’t hurt them.

Simply put, the Coyotes expect the Darkside to win games, as well as championships. While the 2013 fleet may not be as flamboyant as last season, it is determined not to break — and to win the hearts of every Darth Vader fan willing to join them on the ‘Darkside.’

Here are 10 reasons why the 2013 Darkside Defense will be just as effective, if not more, than they were in 2012.

  1. Familiarity. The Coyotes rely on a core of veterans, such as Cedric Cox, Michal Erwin, Devion Brown, Michael “Bo” Bovain, Alfredo Melendez, Jeff Taylor, Montrell Brown, Deshawn Carr, Paul Thomas and Robert Smith, who understand the structure of the defense and its complexities. Having a full season under their belts in 2012 is a major plus.
  2. Structure. The structure of the defense has been developed so that players can go hard and fast to the ball. “Our players do not have to think about what they are doing or where they have to line up, they just can line up and play.
  3. Discipline. Last season’s film revealed times when discipline broke down with missed assignments at critical times, resulting in big plays. This season, the players understand the necessity to be disciplined in their assignments, and play within the structure of the defense. This change already has paid great dividends so far in 2013 — the starting defense has surrendered just 16 points.
  4. ‘The Loaf.’  One character trait that isn’t tolerated on the Darkside is loafing. The Coyotes wide-open defensive attack calls for all 11 players flying to the football and making plays.  Loafing, better known as ‘taking a play off,’ draws immediate consequences: Become a spectator, and you get a seat — on the bench. The Loaf has been a great motivator for players to play hard, to the best of their abilities.  In 2013, Coyote veterans themselves have been know to send a lazy player to the bench.
  5. Talent infusion. As with any good Darkside, the Coyotes are blessed with new apprentices — talented players such as Reggie Hines, Richard Ortiz Jr., Steve Abed, Jordan Cornell, Don Howard, Alex Mendoza , and Dana Prieto, to name a few — that have made a great impact. The Coyotes have a fleet of several vengeful death stars with the versatility to play both ways at a high level, such as Cyle Tisdale.
  6.  Simplification. The Darkside defensive system allows new players to immediately understand and comprehend their roles, the schemes and play-calling,  even without a great deal of experience or playing time.  Veteran Coyotes are expected to keep new players game-ready.
  7. Defensive Philosophy. The consistency of the defensive philosophy in the coaching staff has allowed the players to assimilate perfectly into the Coyotes defensive scheme. The Coyotes have always been about an attacking style of play, regardless of its coaching staff, and that philosophy has not changed.
  8. Team. The Coyotes attack as a pack, with a group of players who aren’t centered around selfish pursuits of power. They are not about individual statistics — they care about winning as a team.
  9. Depth and diversity. The 2013 Coyotes enjoy a greater amount of depth due to (a) more personnel and (b) having players who can play multiple positions in the defensive scheme.
  10. Leadership and Character. Going into their second season, the Coyotes have players who have stepped up and grabbed the mantle of leadership by the claws. Being in a position of leadership is not an easy one, but the Coyotes have a host of players who embrace it. The coaching staff values great character over selfish interests, and the Darkside, contrary to its movie namesake, is packed with a force for Good.
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