Mustang DC excited about young defense

Juniors Moore, Payne among new key defenders


Mykah Trusty

Junior Jameer Moore will be a big part of the Mustangs’ new-look defense, his defensive coordinator Austin Kingsbury said.

An experienced defense was a big factor in the Mustangs’ 7-3 record last season.

Things are different this year. There will be five new starters with little to no varsity experience, but Mustang defensive coordinator Austin Kingsbury said he remains confident in his guys.

“They put in a lot of work in the off-season and they have done a nice job with picking up everything we’ve been putting in,” Kingsbury said. “We feel really good about where we are at right now with our defense.”

The main focus has been limiting missed tackles and capitalizing on turnover opportunities, Kingsbury said, adding that other defensive goals include forcing three turnovers a game and holding opponents under 16 points a game.

Those are lofty goals considering the lack of experience, but Kingsbury has made adjustments to help his guys out.

“We have tried to slow it down and not have too many plays so they are comfortable with our base package, allowing them to just line up and play,” he said.

Another effort to address the loss of experience was a shift toward a more man-to-man coverage, Kingsbury said.

Despite the youth, Kingsbury said he’s excited about several of his new starters.

“Jameer Moore is a guy that has taken a lot of steps, just an extremely hard worker,” Kingsbury said. “We are really excited about what he brings to the table. Sam Payne is a guy we gain on the back end and he’s really stepped into his position.”

Moore is a junior cornerback who played a lot of junior varsity last year and was in the varsity rotation. He has played in the secondary since his freshman year and has a lot of experience on the outside. Preparation for him has consisted of extra work on the field and spending time in the gym as much as possible, improving in every aspect whenever he can, Moore said.

“Focusing on fundamentals and going all out every game is my main goal throughout the season,” he said.

Payne is a junior who is switching from inside linebacker to safety this year. This is his first time playing that position, but he said playing cornerback in middle school helped him with the switch. Studying film and staying conditioned also have helped with the transition, he said.
“There have been some bumps with learning a new position and not knowing what to do on some play calls, but I lift and run on my own so I’m ready come game time,” Payne said.

As he looks forward to the season, which starts with the Mayor’s Cup game Friday night at Salina Stadium, Payne has a simple philosophy.

“Let’s beat South then we’ll go from there,” he said.