By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Greenbrier West has built a reputation on its offense, a run-first, run-often attack that has proven difficult to stop no matter its predictability.
But anyone who sleeps on the Cavaliers defense might suffer a fate just as predictable.
A defense that thrives on pressuring the quarterback has carried Greenbrier West (9-1) into its customary spot in the state playoffs. The Class A No. 7 Cavs will host No. 10 Notre Dame (7-3) in the first round at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“We have played well on defense this year,” Greenbrier West coach Lewis McClung said. “This year the defense has been as good as any we have had, if not better.”
West has looked as unstoppable at times on defense. The Cavs have sacked the quarterback 36 times, led by junior defensive end Marquis Frazier with 18. He had six alone in a 6-0 win over Class AA No. 11 Nicholas County.
Frazier also has 20 tackles for loss and has recovered five fumbles.
Senior Corey Cox has 46 tackles, including six sacks. Senior nose guard Logan Brown, “a pleasant surprise” according to McClung, has 21 tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries. Senior linebacker Chase McClung has 45 tackles, four of them for loss.
“We have been pretty strong at defensive end and at linebacker,” McClung said. “When you have good defensive ends and linebackers in our defense, you have a chance to be pretty good.
“We also have to give the defensive backs credit. They do a good job of keeping guys covered up and giving us time to get to the quarterback. The secondary has stepped up.”
Mike Goddard, Dustin Yoakum, Malik Boatwright, Jordan Tincher, and Jordan Grimmett have led a secondary that has compiled nine interceptions this season.
The defense has forced 28 turnovers in all and has posted two shutouts and gave up only one touchdown in two other games.
Having experienced players has helped the defense.
“That has allowed (defensive coordinator) Kelly (Vaughan) to do a lot with the defense that he couldn’t do in the past,” he said.
In the Fighting Irish, the Cavs will face an offense that McClung describes as “fairly balanced.” They are led by running back Santino Cava, a 5-foot-7, 195-pound junior who “looks like a bowling ball and runs like that, too,” McClung said.
Cava has rushed for 1,546 yards and 15 touchdowns. Quarterback T.J. McKinsey has completed 78 of 137 passes for 1,323 yards with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“If he gets running north-south on us, we could have problems,” McClung said. “And their quarterback throws the ball well. He has a good arm.”
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