A normally good defense tackling at a subpar level and a standout running back can provide a devastating combination on the football field.
When Deerfield High School’s normally stingy defenders ran into Grenbrook North’s Grant Rushing Friday night in Northbrook, that mixture was one of the reasons for the Warriors 42-14 defeat in their Central Suburban League North Division opener.
Earlier: Glenbrook North Stuns Deerfield in CSL Opener
Rushing was the conference offensive player of the year two years ago as a sophomore, missed much of last season with an injury and ran for more than 300 yards in the Spartans second game of the year against Chicago’s Lane Tech.
Against Deerfield, Rushing carried the ball for 235 yards including touchdown runs of 15, 49 and 78 yards. He also had 77 receiving yards including a 57-yard scoring pass. He always seemed to have an extra step on the Warriors.
“We didn’t tackle very well,” Deerfield Coach Steve Winiecki said. “After we hit him we couldn’t wrap him up. That’s what happens when you don’t tackle well with a good runner.”
Winiecki knew the team would be relying on defense this year particularly in the early part of the season. The Warriors brought back seven starters from the 2011 defensive unit.
“We’ve been very happy with the way we’re playing defense,” Winiecki said before Friday’s game. “I want to look at the film before we do anything,” he added after the falling to the Spartans.
A bright spot for Deerfield was the insertion of junior Benjamin Ethridge into the lineup at quarterback in the second quarter of the game. Winiecki did not indicate starter Matt Kollada was injured or he was displeased with his performance.
“It’s what we decided to do,” Winiecki said. “His style was good running the offense. It was jus first game (in a varsity role) as a junior.” Starter Matt Kollada returned to start the fourth quarter.
Ethridge engineered Deerfield’s first scoring drive. After the Warrior special teams downed a punt on the Spartan three-yard line, the defense contained Glenbrook North inside the 10. Rushing’s punt gave Deerfield a short field.
That is when Ethridge went to work handing the ball to Landen Hinds or Brett Freedberg when he wasn’t running himself. The first touchdown came on a seven-yard run by Hinds.
Deerfield has another short week as it prepares to welcome Maine West to Adams Field at 7:30 p.m. Friday. There is no practice Wednesday since there is no school because of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.