Stewart F. House/Special Contributor Plano West High School quarterback Jake Sweeney (17) scrambles during the first half as Plano West High School hosted Sachse High School at John Clark Stadium in Plano on Friday night, September 8, 2017. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)
Opponents have tried it all against Sachse this season — run, pass, even trick plays to get the ball rolling on offense.
But time and time again, teams have been contained by a dominant Sachse defense that has only allowed 13 points in four weeks. Two of those weeks, Sachse pitched a shutout.
For top area teams, holding just one opponent to zero points in a game is a challenge. Pitching two shutouts in a span of a few weeks is whole different task.
Sachse (4-0) and Mansfield Summit (3-1) were the only area teams to record two shutouts in the first three weeks of the season. Spruce, Adamson and Fort Worth Southwest Christian all picked up their second in Week 4 – when many area teams were on bye.
Overall, 31 area teams have pitched at least one shutout through the first four weeks of the season. But in today’s offensive-minded game, how do defenses manage to contain these high-powered offenses?
"These days it’s extremely hard," Sachse coach Mark Behrens said. "The offenses that we faced, to have two shutouts this early in the season is a testament to those guys as well as our offense."
But for top area teams, the mindset of shutouts differ.
For Sachse, No. 3 in the Class 6A SportsDayHS area rankings, shutouts show their sign of dominance. For No. 2 DeSoto (3-0), it has yet to force its opponents to throw up a goose egg this season, but the goal of its defense isn’t a shutout. Rather, when a game starts to get that out of hand, DeSoto sends in its backups to get experience and reps in the second half.
"We maybe could have held them, but we are going to play other kids," DeSoto coach Todd Peterman said.
Behrens said the biggest thing about shutouts is to continuously keep the defensive substitutions rolling. It helps to add in an offense that manages to sustain long drives while scoring, which allows the defense keeps fresh bodies on the field at all times.
Sachse is a team known in the past more for its offensive firepower than its defense, but Behrens said the focus has shifted.
"We used to try to outscore people and that was open enrollment that gets you some skill kids over here — especially when they see how many people are receiving the ball," said Behrens, in his 14th year as the Mustangs’ head coach. "The bottom line is getting wins and we felt like we needed to be a bit stronger defensively and we are doing that now."
Sachse senior defensive back Isaiah Humphries, a Penn State commit, said he originally came to Sachse as a wide receiver after eighth grade. It wasn’t until after his freshman season he switched to defensive back. It was at the same time Sachse got a new defensive coordinator with the aim to change the program’s defensive mindset.
"He was like, ‘I know you guys aren’t known for defense,’ but he’s like, ‘We are going to change,’" Humphries said. "My junior year, we started shutting people down. … We have a lot of guys going D1, and it’s really crazy how it’s shifted in the years I’ve been here."
Summit coach Channon Hall said keeping opponents to zero points is always a goal, but it isn’t that simple.
"You know just getting 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids to focus that long is always a hard task," Hall said. "But when they do that with a great mentality and a great sense of energy and a great sense of focus, it is always special."
Summit senior linebacker Dreylan Hines, one of the team’s leaders on defense, said that in its two shutouts this season, the team has been all about confidence. Without the mindset of knowing the team can do it, it won’t happen.
"We’ve just improved every game and we always keep our energy up, especially in those two games," Hines said. "Our motto is ‘Swarm and Punish.’"
Area teams with multiple shutouts through Week 4
School First shutout Second shutout Adamson 65-0 Fort Worth Polytechnic (Week 1) 56-0 Conrad (Week 4) Sachse 48-0 Plano West (Week 2) 61-0 Mesquite (Week 3) Mansfield Summit 36-0 Saginaw Chisholm Trail (Week 2) 45-0 Fort Worth Paschal (Week 3) Spruce 43-0 North Dallas (Week 2) 32-0 Sunset (Week 4) FW Southwest Christian 41-0 Arlington Pantego Christian (Week 3) 42-0 Arlington Grace Prep (Week 4)