Roster attrition suggested the possibility of Derby’s defense taking a step backwards.
In coach Austin Wuthrich’s first year as defensive coordinator, the Panthers were tasked with replacing seven starters, including their entire linebacker corps.
Even with that change, the results have been nothing short of stellar through Derby’s first four games.
Its starting defense has yet to allow a touchdown and has forced five turnovers. Add in the backups and that takeaway number jumps to nine.
After holding Bishop Carroll scoreless for the first time in nine years, Clark wants his defense to celebrate its accomplishments while it prepares for the next opponent.
“It’s not our end goal, but we’ve only got nine games guaranteed so we’re going to celebrate as much as we can,” Clark said. “We’re going to enjoy the game and celebrate the little things and [pitching a shutout against BC] isn’t necessarily a little thing.”
This coming Friday, Derby will look to become 5-0 for the third time in the last seven years when it heads up I-135 to face Salina South (1-3). Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
The Cougars have been unable to break a late-game funk that has plagued them over the last two years. Over their last 13 games, they have been within a touchdown in the second half in six of those games. They are only 2-11 over that stretch.
The Derby coach pointed out a defensive front, who is led by sophomore Kayson Dietz, as being one of its toughest challenges to this point of the season. Dietz, a defensive end, (5-11, 280) is the son of former Kansas State defensive tackle Tank Reese.
“It might be the biggest defensive line we see,” Clark said. “They’ve got 280 and 285 and 200-plus at other spots they shuffle in.”
Salina South is coming off a dominant 49-19 win over Campus. The game was pushed to Saturday afternoon after storms derailed their game on Friday evening.
The upcoming matchup against the defending Class 6A state champions has not favored coach Sam Sellers’ crew in recent years. Derby has won five straight and seven of the last eight games against its league foe. Each of the five wins in the current streak have come by 31 points or more.
2019 DERBY FOOTBALL STATISTICS (THROUGH WEEK 4)
Grant Adler, 41-of-59 (69%), 682 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT
Lem Wash, 3-of-7, 65 yards, 1 TD
Tre Washington, 49 carries, 343 yards, 7 TD
Grant Adler, 33 carries, 257 yards, 4 TD
Lem Wash, 23 carries, 250 yards, 3 TD
Dylan Edwards, 12 carries, 113 yards, 0 TD
Jacob Karsak, 9 catches, 229 yards, 1 TD
Cavion Walker, 9 catches, 164 yards, 2 TD
Tre Washington, 8 catches, 132 yards, 4 TD
Davin Simms, 6 catches, 90 yards, 0 TD
Reid Liston, 6 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD
Tanner Knox, 2 INT
Brecken Kooser, 1 INT, 1 FR
Ladell Clemons, 1 INT
Jack Hileman, Cole Minton, Isaac Swetnam, Trent Voth, 1 FR
1,707 yards of offense (426 ypg)
965 rushing yards (241 ypg)
742 passing yards (185 ypg)
3rd down conversions: 11-for-28 (39%)
4th down conversions: 5-for-13 (38%)
Opponent total yards: 646 (161 ypg)
Opponent rushing yards: 203 (50 ypg)
Opponent passing yards: 443 (110 ypg)
Opponent 3rd down: 14-for-58 (24%)
Opponent 4th down: 7-for-15 (46%)