Queen Creek’s Defense Shines in Opener

The Queen Creek Bulldogs entered the 2014 season knowing their defense needed to improve from last season. The Bulldogs posted only one shutout last season, versus South Mountain, a team that was in the middle of a 30-game losing streak at the time. They posted six shutouts in their 2012 State Championship season. 

Queen Creek’s defense equaled last season’s shutout total in a 43 – 0 whooping of cross-town rival Poston Butte Friday night, spoiling legendary coach Paul Moro’s Broncos coaching debut. It was only the second time a Moro-coached team had been shutout.

The Bulldogs limited Broncos’ running back Brandon Hatfield, who averaged 115 rushing yards per game as a junior, to fewer than 100 rushing yards in Friday’s opener. Hatfield is listed as one of the Top 80 seniors in Arizona by Scout.com southwest recruiting analyst Jason Jewell.

“We just did the little things right,” senior inside linebacker Nate NeVille said Friday night. “We were on the ball, covered receivers, and tackled well. We did the little things right so big things (would) happen and we (posted) a shutout.”

NeVille and the Bulldogs’ defense worked hard to improve after losing last season’s State Championship game to Saguaro. When asked during spring and summer practices what the defense needed to do to improve, a prophetic NeVille answered, “We need to shutout more teams.” By those standards, Friday night’s performance was a success.

In 2012, the Bulldogs’ defense allowed an average of 6 ½ points per game and won the State Championship. In contrast, they allowed an average of over 21 points per game in 2013, including a season-high 47 points in the championship game. 

“We knew we needed to get better on defense,” Bulldogs’ head coach Travis Schureman said after the win versus Poston Butte. “That was something we worked on. We were young last year on the defensive side of the ball. When you run to the football and play 11 men to the football, great things will happen.”

The Bulldogs are hoping to have learned from history. If they were paying attention, as it appears they were Friday night against the Broncos, they’ll know defense wins championships.