Defense will play a key role for the Greyhounds as they host No. 4 Butler in a battle for the Jayhawk Conference's regular-season championship, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Frary Field.
The defensive line unit has improved each week after a Week 3 battle at Garden City in which the Broncbusters scored 35 points, the most the defense has surrendered this season. The Greyhounds (6-0 Jayhawk, 8-0 overall) go into the match-up against Butler (6-0, 7-1) knowing they must keep improving and control the line of scrimmage when they are on defense.
"Butler runs the ball well and if we can win the battle physically up front we will be successful," first-year defensive coordinator James Lott said. "Our defensive line has been our strength and we want to continue doing what has worked this week."
Fort Scott is ranked third in the Jayhawk Conference against the run, giving up just 98 yards a game to their opponent. The 'Hounds are also ranked second in the conference in scoring defense, giving up only 14 points per game to the opposition.
Fort Scott plays a basic 4-3 defense with four defensive linemen and three linebackers.
The 'Hounds are doing the job stopping the run, giving up only 2.7 yards per carry. By comparison, the Greyhound offense averages 4.3 yards a carry.
In the five games following the 35-point effort Garden City put out, the Greyhounds have given up only 4 rushing touchdowns. They have also created numerous zero-yard and negative-yard rushing plays.
Two big reasons for these impressive numbers has been the play of the "big guys" in the middle, defensive tackles Byron Jerideau and Anthony White.
Jerideau, a 6' 1", 315 pound redshirt freshman from South Carolina, is second on the team in tackles with 52 with 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Jerideau also has two quarterback sacks on the season.
White, a 6' 3", 300-pound redshirt freshman from Michigan, has tallied 42 tackles with 9 of them for a loss. White also has 2 quarterback sacks for the 'Hounds.
Starting outside on the D-line are defensive ends Zach Bowers and Frank Bryant.
The veteran of the group is sophomore defensive end Bowers (6' 1", 240, Topeka). Bowers saw significant playing time for the 'Hounds last season accumulating 29 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. This season in 8 games, Bowers has 33 tackles (9 for lost yardage) and a team leading 6 sacks.
"Working hard and playing faster" was Bowers response when asked what he felt was the reason for his improvement during his time at FSCC.
Starting at the other defensive end is true freshman Bryant (6' 3", 240, Jefferson City, Mo.). Bryant uses quickness and a long wingspan to get to the quarterback. Bryant has 4 sacks to go along with 31 tackles this season. Bryant is also leading the team with 4 forced fumbles.
Rounding out the Greyhounds' defensive line corps is sophomore defensive tackle Brian Johnson (6' 0, 295, Manhattan), redshirt freshman defensive tackle Kevin Richard (6' 1" 260, Chanute), and true freshmen defensive ends Chase Tennepenny (6' 4" 225, Oskaloosa) and Alex Baker (6' 4" 250, Overland Park).
"I really feel the players are starting to learn our scheme and to understand what we are trying to coach," first-year defensive line coach Sean Cherico said. "With our new defensive coaching staff coming in a little late, we didn't have these guys in the spring and it has taken some time for them to understand the different techniques that we coach. But they have worked hard to improve everyday and every game."
Butler County averages 181 yards per game on the ground, 90 yards more than what Fort Scott gives up per game.
"We need to work harder than we have work all year and play smart," Jerideau says. "It is going to take us to know our assignments and to execute as a defensive unit. We must continue to play together as one and put eleven helmets to the ball every play."