Charleston Defense Dominates Glen Rose
By Leland Barclay Special to the Charleston Express
LITTLE ROCK — Charleston has been there and done that.
In 2008, Fountain Lake needed 49 points to set the all-time scoring record in the state in the state championship game against Charleston.
Instead, Charleston romped past the Cobras 47-20 to claim the 3A state championship and was just a conversion away from invoking the mercy rule.
Saturday, Glen Rose rolled into War Memorial Stadium for the 3A State Championship Game as the state’s top scoring team with 625 points and again Charleston rolled to a 42-19 win for the title.
Charleston absolutely dominated Glen Rose up front with ends Colton Ward and Dillon Walker and tackles Garrett Conway and J.J. Johnson.
“We’ve all worked our butts off since January,” Walker said. “We’ve been out blood, sweat, tears, working together. We dedicated our life to football, and it paid off at the end.”
The senior quartet was excited about facing Glen Rose’s potent running game led by the state’s leading rusher, Carlos Burton. He entered the game with 2,257 yards and 37 touchdowns.
“Every time we scored, we just got more excited, more excited and more excited,” Johnson said. “We’d just go to the next play, just go hard and keep working until we get to the fourth quarter. We focused on every game.”
Charleston held Burton scoreless until the mercy rule was applied and the game was out of hand.
“That’s all we’ve heard is they have good running backs and their offensive line thought they were all that,” said Walker, who recovered a fumble. “They hadn’t faced a defense like us, I think. We always go (all) out and everything. We played our hearts out.”
By the time Charleston yielded its first touchdown with 4:55 left in the first half, the Tigers had already scored 35 unanswered points in the game’s first 17 minutes.
“We heard every week in practice, from Week 1, how good Glen Rose was going to be and how we had to shut down the run,” Conway said. “We got tired of hearing about it. We came out prepared.”
Glen Rose eliminated Charleston from the playoffs last season in the third round, 31-28.
“We had a bad taste in our mouths from last year,” Conway said. “We had a bunch of revenge to give back. There was a lot of mouthing, but we didn’t mouth back. They were giving it to us.”
Johnson led Charleston’s punishing defensive effort in the first half with 10 tackles, including 1 1/2 for lost yardage, and finished with 13 tackles. Johnson also forced a fumble.
For defensive coordinator Brett Hobbs, he couldn’t have asked for more from a defensive front of senior leaders.
“All of the credit goes to the kids,” Hobbs said. “I got to come into a great situation. We knew Burton, the running back, was extremely good player. We knew we were going to have to stop the run and be physical up front. Those guys have done it every single week and continued it tonight.”
In fact, coaching at Charleston kind of reminded him of his teammates when he played for Springdale and legendary head coach Jarrell Williams when he was an Associated Press Super Team linebacker in 1999.
“It really is with the style of football and mentality of the kids,” Hobbs said. “It’s something I’ve grown up with and are accustomed to. It’s a little bit smaller version, but I’d put these kids up against anybody. We feed off each other, and I think it’s a great fit. I couldn’t be happier for these kids.”