Back to basics

A Kodiak High School football player works the ladders during a drill at Monday’s practice at Nemetz Gazebo. (Derek Clarkston photo)

Kodiak is going back to the basics when it comes to defense.

“Last year, there was a lot of things at the end of the year that I wanted to focus on, and it turned out it all comes back to basics,” Kodiak football head coach and defensive coordinator Todd Cook said.

“We are spending every spare minute that we can working on the basics.”

When Cook says basics, he means solid tackling, shedding blocks and creating turnovers.

That is what Cook is looking for when Kodiak opens the 2011 high school season Friday at Houston in a Northern Lights Conference (NLC) game. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

“We just want to play good, solid football,” Cook said. “I’m not asking for a shutout or anything like that. I think if we can prevent the big plays and play solid defense, I will be happy.”

Cook, entering his seventh season as head coach, claims this is the most rounded defensive squad he has had.

“They are going to be as good or better than any defense I have had in the past,” he said.

That is saying something, because Kodiak has had some stellar defenses in the past.

In 2006, Kodiak’s defense posted four consecutive shutouts on its way to the school’s first of three straight appearances in the small-school state championship game.

In 2008, Kodiak’s Gary Anthony was the NLC’s defensive player of the year.

“We may not have one or two standout players, we are going to have several,” Cook said.

One of those players is senior inside linebacker Charlie Johnson. Johnson was awarded the top senior inside linebacker award at the All-Alaska Football Camp in July.

“His technique and reading ability outshines everybody else right now,” Cook said. “He should be our go-to guy as far as that playmaker.”

Joining Johnson as linebackers are Darren Sene, Chris Parsons and Freddy Sorto.

On the line are Josh Kamai and Connor Murphy as defensive ends, Leo Sega as tackle and Mua Sega as nose guard.

“I feel pretty good about all the positions, really,” Cook said. “I think that our inside backers and our interior line are probably our strengths right now.”

Filling the secondary are cornerbacks David Anderson and Andrew Gregory and free safety Justin Goff.

“They are real solid with their pass coverage and open-field tackling,” Cook said.

As excited as Cook is about the defense, he is even more pleased with the help he has received this season. Normally he has only two defensive coaches. This year he has four.

“It has made a tremendous difference,” Cook said. “I don’t feel like I have to do everything myself … It is nice to have one coach at each position.”

One of the coaches is Kodiak’s first coach, Ken Cole. Cole coached the Bears for two years beginning in 2002.

“He has been gracious enough to give us some of his time and he stepped in and filled in to help out the junior varsity as defensive coordinator,” Cook said.

Derek Kosub and Tate Marcinkowski are also helping coach the defense.

“We have the personnel this year to dedicate to these different positions,” Cook said. “We don’t have holes in our coaching staff like we used to.”

Mirror writer Derek Clarkston can be reached via email at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

2010 defensive stats

Points against per game — 17.3

Rushing yards against per game — 159

Passing yards against per game — 101

Key returners

Charlie Johnson, linebacker; Chris Parsons, linebacker; Darren Sene; Justin Goff, free safety; Connor Murphy, defensive end.

Key losses

Michael Atonio, linebacker; Travis Marion, linebacker; Riley McFarlin, cornerback; Eddie Arellano Jr., cornerback; Will Vogt, line; Quincy Dingus, defensive end; David Sweeney, defensive end.

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