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Wharton defense leads way into second round of state playoffs

Wildcats will play at Lehigh in the Class 7A Regional Semifinals
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Posted at 2:49 PM, Nov 16, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — The Wharton High School (9-2) football team will travel to Fort Myers for their Class 7A Regional Semifinal game against Lehigh High School (8-2) on Friday.

The Wharton defense has not given up more than two touchdowns in a single game this season. They’ll need that “D” to step up once again against another high-scoring opponent.

“Basically, we come out here Mondays through Thursdays with maximum focus,” defensive end Daveon Crouch told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “Everybody puts in the hard work and right mindset.”

Hard work and effort during the week lead to the Wildcats dominating on defense on Friday nights. Wharton has allowed 101 points through 11 games this season, about nine points per game.

“I just feel like defense is more important on this level,” head coach Mike Williams said. “With these high-octane offenses, guys can throw it, run it. So, if you really invest in the defense and make sure you got the right guys over there, some of those guys could be helping our offense, but we’re built the way we’re built, and defense kind of carries the torch and the offense, for the most part, don’t want to mess it up.”

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The sixth-seeded Wildcats upset three-seed Mitchell 15-8 in last week Class 7A Regional Quarterfinals to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2008. Second-year head coach Mike Williams was still playing wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans back then.

“(Coach Mike) loves to compete, loves to compete,” linebacker Cameron Campbell said. “He loves to call us out in practice. It makes it fun, makes the defense better. It makes us want to hit harder, play faster, just go 100 percent all the time.”

They’ll have to give 100 percent and maybe a little more against Lehigh. The Lightning are led by one of the nation’s best running backs in Richard Young.

“We can’t underestimate him,” Crouch said. “He’s actually the number one back in his class. But, he’s just like us. He practices the same, goes to sleep the same. We got to see who wants it more.”

Friday night’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.