Bulldogs' defense has bite

November 25, 2006|by MARK KELLER

The Martinsburg football team has made nine straight trips to the postseason. In each of those nine seasons, the focus has been squarely on the Bulldogs' high-powered offense.

This year's Martinsburg defense has worked hard to change that, allowing just more than a touchdown a game on average over its last eight games to put the Bulldogs on the cusp of their fourth trip to the West Virginia Class AAA championship game in six years.

"I think it's a fair assessment to say our defense has been underrated," Martinsburg coach David Walker said. "They've probably not gotten a lot of recognition in the past because of the great players we've had on offense."

The defense, which has given up just nine points in the first two rounds of the playoffs, will get a stiff test today when the second-seeded Bulldogs play host to Fairmont Senior in a state semifinal game at Cobourn Field. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.


The Polar Bears (10-2), the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, run a spread offense similar to the Martinsburg offenses of old, scoring 399 points this season. Fairmont has not scored fewer than 26 points since the first game of the season.

Quarterback Kyle Allard leads the way for the Polar Bears, throwing for 2,696 yards and 33 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Allard was 26 of 33 for 307 yards and four touchdowns as Fairmont upset No. 3-seed Nitro 35-28 last week.

"He's an excellent player, makes them go. He's their trigger man," Walker said. "They've got a good running back as well, but the last couple games Allard has put the team on his shoulders and carried them."

While Allard's athleticism - he's also rushed for 519 yards this season - concerns Walker, it's nothing he thinks his defense can't handle.

"We don't have any real standout on defense, but we have a bunch of really good ones," Walker said. "They're more of a unit."

"We got these guys to believe in each other and they've bought into the team concept," Walker said. "They show up to play and give all they've got."

The Bulldogs (11-1) will be looking for running back Josh Twyman to bounce back from a down game last week. Twyman carried 24 times for 76 yards in Martinsburg's 13-2 quarterfinal win over South Charleston. It was the first game this season that Twyman has not rushed for at least 100 yards or scored a touchdown.

Marcus Scott picked up the slack last week, rushing for 125 yards to lead the Bulldogs.

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