Eastwood secondary shuts down high-scoring offenses
If Eastwood’s opponents haven’t memorized their jersey numbers by now, it might be a good time to start.
The Eagles’ two starting senior cornerbacks, Jake Schmeltz (No. 16) and Jordan Faykosh (19), and junior free safety Devin Snowden (20) are making opposing quarterbacks think twice about throwing passes at the talented trio.
Previously undefeated Lake found that out last Friday night, when Schmeltz, Faykosh and Snowden played a huge role in Eastwood’s 21-0 shutout of the Flyers. Lake was averaging 46.6 points per game.
“Our secondary had a great game,” said head coach Jerry Rutherford, who won his 200th career game.
Rutherford’s sons, Craig and Eric, are the Eagles’ defensive coordinator and secondary coach, respectively. Eric, who started at free safety for Eastwood his senior year (2007), probably has the Northern Buckeye Conference’s fastest group of defensive backs.
Faykosh (6-2, 180) has been a pleasant surprise, being that this is his first year playing football since he was in the eighth grade.
“He came out not expecting to start and he wanted to get some playing time, and he’s been a heck of an athlete for us,” Eric Rutherford said. “When he came out, I noticed he wasn’t afraid to hit and he would take on anybody. He really impressed me since day one.”
Faykosh, who has 26 tackles and three tipped passes, had two interceptions in the Eagles’ 40-21 season-opening win over Patrick Henry.
“We were going to be pretty good this year and all the guys said I would probably start, and I’ve been thinking about playing again,” Faykosh said. “I wanted time off to focus on basketball, because that’s my favorite sport. It might have been a little bit of peer pressure. I’ve always loved football, I just got really good at basketball in high school and I just liked it more. I wasn’t that great at football in middle school.”
Faykosh said the coaching staff got him up to speed fairly quickly about what to expect at the varsity level.
“It’s been pretty easy to catch on because they’ve coached me pretty well,” he said. “We worked on fundamentals, and in two-a-days we went through game situations. They’ve done a good job preparing me for every game as a cornerback and wide receiver. Our coaches are always prepared on every look we could possibly get on offense and defense.”
Schmeltz (6-0, 176), in his third year as the Eagles’ starting quarterback, became a starting cornerback midway through last season.
“Through his experience in basketball, he was just a natural covering a guy out in space,” Eric Rutherford said. “He fit right in last year. We usually put him to the side where they’re going to go up top. Usually, Jake covers the other team’s best receiver.”
Schmeltz, who has 15 tackles and seven tipped passes, said he relishes his role as Eastwood’s shutdown corner. He sometimes gets a break on defense by junior teammate Abram Reyes.
“I take a lot of pride just knowing the other team’s biggest weapon is on the outside and I have to do my best to shut them down as much as I can,” Schmeltz said. “The linemen and linebackers can get to the quarterback, and I can stay glued to my guy.”
Schmeltz and his defensive mates took pride in shutting down quarterback Jared Rettig and Lake’s high-powered offense last week.
“Our whole secondary did pretty good considering how many points (Lake’s) been scoring,” Schmeltz said. “They’ve been scoring on a lot of big plays, and Lake’s receivers were doing really well. We talked all week on slowing them down and taking away big plays, and our secondary did a really good job of that.”
Despite being just 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds, Snowden is known as a big hitter. One of the fastest athletes in the NBC, Snowden has two interceptions and is second on the team with 43 tackles. He also has two forced fumbles and one recovery.
“He’s not big, but he’s fast,” Eric Rutherford said. “He’s a 4.5 guy. He’ll make plays against the run at the line of scrimmage, and some of the biggest hits we’ve had this year have come from him. He makes plays all over the field and sees the field really well.”
Snowden, who qualified to the state track meet last spring in the 300-meter hurdles and 4x100 and 4x400 relay, said one of his favorite hits came in the opener against Patrick Henry.
“It was on a kickoff and our kicker pooch-kicked it across the field,” Snowden said. “Me and Michael Flipse ran down the field, and as soon as the guy caught it we both hit him. Since that was our first game, it was an opening to the season and just led to a lot of great hits. I like to hit, and I have good form because we work on our tackling two or three days a week.”
Snowden said one reason the Eagles’ secondary works so well together is that they are good friends.
“I think that helps a lot,” he said. “We all hang out together. If someone gets frustrated, being friends with them you know how to calm them down and get them back in the game.”
Faykosh said deciding to play football again was the right choice.
“It’s been a lot different than anything I’ve done in my life,” he said. “It’s more commitment than I’ve ever made to anything, and I’ve been having the time of my life.”
Eastwood senior defensive end Grant Peters intercepts a Jared Rettig pass in the Eagle’s 21-0 win over Lake. (Press photo by Lee Welch/FamilyPhotoGroup.com)
Eastwood junior defensive back Devin Snowden takes down a Patrick Henry receiver in the Eagle’s 40-21 rout over the Patriots. Five-foot-10, 226 pound senior tackle Jacob Rahe (53) starts to celebrate as he closes in. (Press photo by Lee Welchy/FamilyPhotoGroup.com)