Mustangs seeking defensive answers

After giving up 43 points to Valley Center, it’s been a week of soul-searching for the Mustang defense


Photo by Pylon staff photographer Mykah Trusty

Mustang defenders Charles Slothower (44), Zach Calisti (75), Dawson Hogan (14) and Hunter Swolensky (66) gang tackle a ball carrier during Central’s victory over Emporia earlier this season. The Mustang defense is looking to bounce back from a tough game against Valley Center last week.

Senior linebacker Dawson Hogan said he believes that “selfish” play needs to be cleaned up for the Mustangs to get a bounce-back win against the Andover Central Jaguars tonight at Salina Stadium.

“I think people are going to start doing their assignments better instead of being selfish and doing what they want to,” Hogan said.

Head Coach Mark Sandbo said he also thinks that the Mustangs need to make some changes.

“We weren’t as clean as we needed to be,” Sandbo said of Central’s 43-36 loss at Valley Center last week. “Doing your job is the most important part of the game.”

This is the Mustangs’ last home game of the season, having two straight away games after this week to end the regular season. It will be the seventh all-time meeting between the Mustangs and Jaguars, who both are 3-2.

Mustang defensive coordinator Austin Kingsbury said he was disappointed with the defensive performance against Valley Center.

“We did not execute as a whole defense,” Kingsbury said. “On the majority of our defensive snaps, we have one guy not doing their job.”

Kingsbury noted two main concerns based on last week’s performance.

“We also addressed a lot of missed tackles from last game,” Kingsbury said. “We have to be better at running to the football and tackling.”

Hogan believes that Andover Central’s pass-oriented offense will help the Mustangs defense succeed.

“They’re more of a spread offense,” Hogan said, “so they’ll be passing the ball more and that’s what I think our defense needed.”

The Mustang defense should be familiar with Andover Central, since it has a similar offense to the Mustangs.

“They’re the most RPO (run-pass option) team that we play,” Sandbo said. “I think they’re piggybacking on what we do.”

Coach Kingsbury said he knows what he needs to do with his defense for the Mustangs to win.

“We have to be assignment sound and we have to match their physicality up front,” Kingsbury said. “If we do those things, and we limit our missed tackles, we will have a great chance at having success stopping their offense.”

Andover Central lost the most seniors in the league, but Sandbo said the replacements have been solid.

“They were really senior-laden last year,” Sandbo said. “They can all play well. There’s a reason they’re 3-2.”

With the end of the season approaching, wins are more and more important for playoff seeding, Sandbo said.

“We’re getting better week in and week out,” he said. “We definitely want to be in the top part of the bracket.”