TRAVERSE CITY — Coming into the season, it was expected that Traverse City West’s massive offensive line would simply be able to plow through defenses on the way to wins.
As things have turned out, it’s the defense that’s stood out in the season’s first two games. West’s opponents — state-ranked Midland and honorable-mention pick Ogemaw Heights — have been able to muster just 24 points total.
“Definitely, we learned we have a good defense,” senior outside linebacker Caleb Breithaupt said. “We definitely thought our strong suit was going to be our offense starting off. We came out and switched it around a bit. Our defense came out and kicked butt and our offense wasn’t going so great, but they’ve made improvements as well. We’re becoming a more well-balanced team.”
So far, so is their record at 1-1. But the Titans hope to tilt that in their favor in Friday’s crosstown rivalry matchup against Traverse City Central in the second annual Patriot Game.
“We’ve challenged ourself with the schedule,” Titans coach Tim Wooer said. “Midland was a great football team. They really made things difficult for us offensively — and we were young. We’ve got a junior quarterback in Jeff Turnquist who is making strides weekly. We hope he continues to grow up again on Friday.”
Central, meanwhile, was also stingy defensively last week, allowing only one touchdown in a 28-7 win over Escanaba.
“They are very similar to Ogemaw Heights in terms of being athletic,” Wooer said. “They’ve got some really good skill kids. They always seem to have good speed over on that side of town. Very athletic group, very fundamentally strong, well-coached. We talked to our kids about all three phases: special teams — obviously (Jake) Gorter is a great kicker. And defensively, we’ve got to be sound. We have to limit the big plays because they’re a big-play team with that type of speed. And then we’ve got to move the ball and create first downs and keep our defense off the field. That’s going to be tough to do. They’ve got a great defense. Two great linebackers in (Josiah) Lopez-Wild and (Joe) Schepperly and the two (defensive) ends are really good football players, too. And they’re surrounded by good football players around those four as well.”