November 7, 2017 2:38:22 PM
MACON -- It's easy to fall in love with explosive offenses when you're involved with the Noxubee County High School football program.
Tyrone Shorter has learned to appreciate quarterbacks who can sling the football, running backs who can pound defenses, and offensive lines that can dominate the point of attack as an assistant coach and now as the team's head coach. If pressed for an answer, though, Shorter will tell you he considers himself a defensive coach.
But that doesn't mean Shorter can't acknowledge the effect the Tigers' offense is having on his defense.
Ever since a 2-4 start to the season, Noxubee County has scored 35 or more points in five-straight victories. The latest -- a 48-26 win against Amory in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) -- came on a night that saw the Tigers' defense record 12 stops for no gain or negative yards on running plays.
Take away the big plays and Shorter likes how his defense has matured as his team continues its preparations for its second-round playoff game at 7 p.m. Friday at Yazoo City (7-4).
"I thought the kids did a good job," Shorter said. "The (Amory offensive coordinator) and I were playing a cat-and-mouse game. He caught me in a couple of blitzes and it hurt us. We missed a tackle or two. The only thing that hurt us were big plays. Beside that, I thought our defense played really well."
Shorter said the addition of junior Maliek Stallings at cornerback has solidified the secondary. He also said Noxubee County is using junior Kyziah Pruitt more at safety now that the weather has cooled off, even if you wouldn't have known it from the humid conditions Friday night in Macon.
Shorter said the defense has gained confidence from the improved play of the secondary and from the offense's high-scoring ways. He said the team's ability to score enables the defense to play with more aggressiveness.
"When our offense gets some scoring, our defense really turns it up," Shorter said. "As a defensive coach, I can do more things and take more chances.
"This defense is good, but it is not as dominant as defenses in the past, so I think it is very important that we feed off our offense."
Shorter also praised the play of senior defensive lineman Myles Smith, junior defensive lineman Tamorris Luster, senior middle linebacker L.C. Clemmons, and senior linebacker Terry Joiner. Smith was a fixture in the middle up front against Amory. Joiner used his athleticism to walk down from his linebacker spot. He uses his speed to give the Tigers another rushing option from the end.
"Myles has been playing great all year," Shorter said. "I think we have to do a better job as a coaching staff of moving him around. I think we have to play him a little bit more like we have played all of our really good defensive linemen. He is being disruptive and tearing down a lot of stuff.
"It starts with our defensive linemen. If our defensive linemen play well, our defense feeds off that and we can do a lot more."
Shorter said the Tigers will go back to studying film to prepare for Yazoo City, which is coming off a 24-23 victory against Ripley last week. He said the Tigers will try to learn their lessons from last week and make sure their defensive players are in the right positions and are ready for the play-making abilities of senior quarterback Roncedrick Weekly and senior running back Jared Waters. Weekly has thrown for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also leads the team with 1,713 yards and 17 touchdowns. Waters is second on the team in rushing with 1,376 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Our kids' attitude makes you feel good," Shorter said. "They remind me of the New England Patriots. Once they get to the playoffs they are hard to beat. No matter how the season goes, they have one mind-set. They just have the attitude who is next. We have a challenge against Yazoo City. They kind of remind me of us. They have a lot of team speed and they have some athletes."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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