Both Sides Now?
It was a title of a popular song in the late 1960s. Those same words also describe how Episcopal's football team has fashioned a 4-1 record going into Thursday's District 8-2A opener.
The Knights have gotten consistent production on both sides of the ball going into Thursday's game against Capitol at Memorial Stadium. Episcopal's offense has averaged 34.8 points per game, while the defense has limited teams to 19.8 points per game with senior linemen Jamieson Bell and Alex Wilson helping to lead the way.
“We’ve had good senior leadership,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “We’ve been able to adapt to adversity. We’re a more mature team.”
On the defensive side, the Knights have been able to make plays with a couple of defensive linemen who don’t typically fit the profile.
Bell and Wilson don't fit the traditional profile of guys who play in the trenches. Both linemen are shorter than 5-foot-10 and weigh less than 200 pounds. But they are two-year starters and key contributors for the Knights.
So far, Wilson has compiled 23 total tackles. Bell has added 14 tackles for the Knights.
Both played linebacker as freshmen, but with the Knights in need of defensive linemen, Bourgeois and the Knights turned to Bell and Wilson — two players known for their tenacity and intensity in practice and games.
“They both started their freshman year on the scout team,” Bourgeois said. “Alex possesses a motor on him. Sometimes we had to keep him off of the scout team because he disrupted the offense so much. Jamie’s going to give you what he’s got. They’re both smart football players.”
With most linemen, the technique is key, but for Bell and Wilson, it is a must.
“I just try to play my technique and be faster than those guys,” Wilson said. “I may not be as physical as them, but I can be as tenacious as them. If I want it more, I’ll be able to be successful.”
Bell said he approaches every game the same, albeit in what he deemed an unusual fashion.
“My pregame routine is unorthodox,” Bell said. “I calm myself down listening to calming music. I try to relax knowing what I need to do to help the team and I go out and try to do that.”
Wilson, Bell and the Knight defense will have a tough task with the Capitol offense led by quarterback Colby Tucker with playmaker Jacoby Bellazar at receiver. The Lions are coming off an open date and got an extra week to prepare for Episcopal.
“When you play Capitol, you have to be disciplined,” Bourgeois said. “ They have a big offensive line and some athletes all over the field. We have to do a good job of containing the quarterback and the wide receiver. He’s a game-breaker.”