Graduation wiped out half of Country Day’s stellar defense from last season.
Two games in though, the Cajuns haven’t missed a beat.
They have yet to allow a touchdown in one-sided wins over Ecole Classique and Ben Franklin.
“The defense just plays well together and is like a brotherhood in a way,” middle linebacker William Nalty said.
Nalty is one of four sophomores who starts on the youthful defense. It also features four juniors and three seniors.
“They are getting better each week and jelling,” Country Day coach Richard Wood said. “They gang tackle and have speed off the ball. They just want to win.”
The Cajuns (2-0), ranked No. 7 in The New Orleans Advocate Small School Super 10, get their toughest test of the season Friday when they travel to Baton Rouge to play Episcopal (2-0).
“This will be our first real test,” Cajuns defensive coordinator Steve Victory said. “We’ve played them for the last seven or so years and have never beaten them.”
Episcopal dismantled Country Day 44-3 last season, handing the Cajuns their only regular-season loss. It was the only game the Cajuns allowed more than 14 points during the entire 2013 regular season.
“We want to go out there and take care of business and forget about that score from last year,” Wood said.
The Knights are averaging 29.5 points in their first two games, victories over North Vermilion and St. John.
“This is the type of game that will show how good we are and how united we are and that we will stay together through the good and bad,” Nalty said. “They are big ole boys and they are quick. We just have to play our hearts out. This can set the tone for the season.”
Nalty is joined on the linebacker corps by Felix Miralda and Jake Gitter or Jase Griffin.
Senior defensive end Walker Bright anchors the defensive line, and is joined by tackles Briggs Ham and Andre Nguyen and end John Wagner.
Cornerbacks Trey Harrell and Robert Livaudais and safeties Chandler Wynne and Buddy Waguespack man the secondary for a defense that allowed just 94 rushing yards last week against Ben Franklin.
But Episcopal, ranked No. 9 in Class 2A by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, should be much tougher for Country Day, ranked No. 8 in 1A.
“We need to come out and look like a team that’s progressing from week to week,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “We want to keep making that climb and positive push forward.”
Wood said the same thing about his team, looking to finally get a win over the Knights.
“We just have to get better each week because we have a lot of kids who played sparingly last year,” Wood said. “Now they have to take the reigns.”