Demon D-Line set to dominate in 2014
The Washington defense was one of the strongest in the state last season, and this year, that doesn’t figure to change.
2013 All-State selection Tommy Peterson will headline a defensive line that seeks to wreak havoc on opposing offenses, and despite losing two all-state linebackers in Tanner Knupp and Garrett Covington, the plan is to simply reload.
“We know we have most everybody coming back,” Peterson said. “We have a few spots to replace, but it should be doable. I bet we’ll be up there in the top three (in the state). I know we can (reload). There will be a few people that will be hard to replace, but it’ll happen sooner or later and someone will step up.”
Peterson will be joined by Thomas Bump and Tama Leutele on what defensive line coach James Harris calls his “T-line.”
“We lost Craig Lillie and Brett Wright off the defensive line last year, but we are really returning three phenomenal players, as well as other players who need to show me what they have,” Harris said. “I call them my T-line in jest because I have Tommy Peterson, a 300-pound nose tackle with a lot of athletic ability, Tama Liutele, who’s 270 pounds and can play end or tackle for us, and Thomas Bump, who is athletic enough to be a tight end and wide receiver as well as being a defensive end.”
Leutele and Bump were both named to the All-District team last year.
In 2013, Leutele led the trio with 90 tackles, including nine sacks and 21 tackles for loss, while Bump picked up 68 tackles and eight sacks, and Peterson had 63 tackles and four sacks.
Those are impressive numbers returning for a defense that was near the top of the state last season.
“Our goal is to be the best defensive line in the state, but there are a lot of other teams out there that are going to be really good, including a really good one at Pella (in week one),” Harris said. “We haven’t set up too many personal goals yet, but now that we are officially in practice, my goals for them is that any one of the three could be an all-state football player.
“We have a really talented bunch up front and we are really lucky,” Harris added. “We need to get them to start buying in, and remember that we are a gap assignment defense and get them to do their job.”
After earning a spot in the state championship game last season, these three seniors are hungry to take it one step further in 2014.
“We are so ready,” Bump said. “We have a ton of guys coming back and we are ready to show everyone that we are going to be just as good as last season. We are going to take it one game at a time and hopefully make it as far as last year. Summer lifting was great, we didn’t have many people missing and the team was in there three days a week. We were working hard in there and just knowing how close we were last year makes us want to push a little bit further.”
If the Demons are going to make it back to the state championship game for the second straight season, the defense will need to be anchored by the defensive line. As most coaches will say, it all starts up front, and with three seniors up there, their leadership is not difficult to see.
“These guys lead by example really well,” Harris said. “They understand what I expect and I want them to be aggressive, relentless and selfless. Their techniques have started coming along step by step and it’s good to see. We have lots of things to improve on. We haven’t put pads on and we have to get in better shape. What happened last year was great, but it doesn’t matter this year.”
Washington opens up play on Aug. 29 against Pella at home.