June 19, 2021

Times-Georgian: ‘Defense hits high level for Heard’

Courtesy of Nick Simon and the Times-Georgian

(Franklin, GA) — As the Heard County High School football team treks its way through the Class AA state playoffs, head coach Tim Barron has noticed a business-like focus and intensity among his athletes with each passing week.

That has especially become evident on the defensive side of the ball, where the top-seeded Braves (10-1) have played with the physical edge needed to keep advancing through the postseason.

Opening the playoffs with a dominant 42-3 win over fourth-seeded South Atlanta last Friday, the Heard ‘D’ delivered arguably its best performance of the entire season. Playing their assignments and swarming quarterback Jalen Thompson, the Braves shut down the Hornets’ flex attack and kept an opposing team out the end zone for the first time all season long.

According to senior Kendaz Goode, there’s no secret formula to a unit clicking together like the HC defense has as of late. It just comes down to preparation and doing your job.

Three of the Brave defensive leaders in 2017 (L-R): Kendaz Goode, David Urquilla, and Andrew Leak (Photo: Nick Simon/Times-Georgian)

“We just watch film, focus on what we have to do and play as a team,” Goode said. “It’s just about toughness and wanting to compete at a high level.”

For junior lineman David Urquilla, delivering a great performance like last week’s starts with establishing a mental advantage way before they step out onto the field.

“We’ve been really preparing mentally and it’s really been showing out there,” Urquilla said. “We know we’re going to be ready physically in every football game, but what we’ve really been doing a good job as of late is preparing ourselves mentally during practice throughout the week.”

One of the players who certainly brought a physical and mental edge with him on both sides of the football was junior Andrew Leak. Setting lead blocks and even scoring a touchdown for the offense, it was his fumble recovery in the second quarter that set up HC taking an almost insurmountable 28-0 lead midway through the contest. Like Urquilla, Leak emphasized that everything starts with having an excellent week of preparation.

“If we practice real hard, then we’ll be ready to play,” Leak said.

And Barron’s defense will have to be on alert this Friday when hosting second-seeded Pepperell (8-3), which just dropped 57 points on Banks County last Friday.

Knowing what the Dragons are capable of, especially coming out of a physical region like 7-AA, Barron is fully anticipating his defenders being in for a fight come 7:30 on Friday night.

“Our guys have seen enough film on Pepperell to know that they’re very similar to us, as far as what they can do,” Barron said. “They’re harder to defend against because they can do so much. Just watching them play and who they’ve played against, it’s going to be a very evenly-matched football game and we have to have a great week of preparation.”

The challenge of slaying the Dragons won’t by any means be a simple task for the Heard defense this Friday night at Staples Stadium. But Urquilla and Co. understand that if they don’t deviate from what they’ve been doing, then they’ll stand a good chance of punching their ticket to the state quarterfinals.

“If we play our football, then we’ll be fine on Friday,” Urquilla said.

Friday night’s contest will broadcast live on B-92.1 FM.

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