Updated: Apr 10, 2021
Controlled Pass Rush Could Play a Roll in Outcome
(NEW ROCHELLE, NY) -We are less than 24 hours away from a highly anticipated match-up between arguably the top two High school football teams in New York. Canisius (2-0) is coming off a quality win against a talented St. Francis team. Iona Prep (4-0) defeated archrival Stepinac on April 1 which has given the Gaels 8 full days to prepare for Canisius. We typically would not see this type of matchup until the CHSAA state title game and this type of non-league matchup may not occur again; however, it does bring up the question that consistently causes debate in New York: Who is the legitimate state champion? If I asked someone to rank Erasmus Hall, New Rochelle, Freeport and Cardinal Hayes after the 2019 season was completed, it would quickly turn into an endless argument that would never have a definitive answer unless all four teams played in a Federation style playoff. These types of games build excitement, help connect our state and give us some answers when it comes to determining who the top teams are. After watching both Iona and Canisius, there is strong evidence to support that right now these 2 teams are #1 and #2 respectively in NY, but that is not set in stone. We can have that conversation after NYC begins play and the season ends. After watching several games of Iona and Canisius, there are a few factors that may influence the outcome of this game. One factor in particular is what I call a “Controlled Pass Rush”.
Controlled Pass Rush
If you watched Tyler Baker against St. Francis, it was obvious that if you do not have a controlled pass rush he will find a lane and pick up hunks of yardage. What I mean by a controlled pass rush is ensuring your Edge rushers do not just rush upfield on every snap trying to win the edge. What happens frequently at all levels of football is that the Edge players get driven up field and past the quarterbacks intended dropback depth. The result is that the Edge rusher essentially has taken himself so far upfield that he not only takes himself out of the play, but also widens a gap that provides a running lane for the quarterback to escape the pocket. Iona Prep has to be mindful that if they want to simply give their Defensive Ends the freedom to Speed rush upfield that they will be putting tremendous pressure on their linebackers to make plays in space against Baker if he escapes the pocket. This is not an easy task. Baker is capable of making defenders miss in space with his change of direction ability. Now, if Iona can consistently win the Edge then this issue is not a concern; however, you are not going to win every rep. You have to be strategic in the way you want your Edge players to rush. This is where situational football comes into play. If it’s 3rd and 11, which favors the defense, you do not want Baker finding a lane and picking up a first down when your Secondary limited a window to throw in. You want your Rushers to compress the pocket vertically and horizontally. This will apply to Darius Wilson as well. He is just as dangerous as Baker and Canisius should not underestimate Wilson’s ability to be an impactful runner if he gets a running lane. Wilson’s elusiveness is deceptive due to his length and the way he runs. Some may look at him and mistakenly think he is not as twitchy. He is “slipperly” and once he gets outside the pocket he shows an ability to keep his eyes downfield to hold defenders before he commits to running. It's going to be key to identifying the "Why?" behind plays where Baker and Wilson get outside or step up in the pocket. Watching how the Edge defenders play is going to be something to keep our eyes on because that may be a catalyst for explosive plays in crucial situations.