The Cascade Christian High football team’s defensive group is poised to continue its claim as the top unit in the Class 1A Nisqually League.
Last year, Cascade Christian’s defense was a stingy group — one hungry to make opposing offenses pay every time they touched the ball. The Cougar unit was too good at times — and by season’s end, it was too selfish as well.
“I think it’s a testament to how hard we work. Every day we’re out here busting our butts,” Zackary Bartolome said. “We go hard every day because we love each other. If you see us on the field, you see we have a love for each other through the way we play.”
And that love has led to success and rewards for the league’s reigning top defense.
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Ten of the 11 first-team defensive nods went to Cascade Christian players during a “down year” in the Nisqually League, but no matter how you look at it, claiming more than 91 percent of the first-team selections quite the feat.
With six players from that first-team selection returning, it’s a good thing as the new-look Nisqually League is beginning to take a familiar shape.
“We got a chance to be pretty good this year,” Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis said. “We won’t have 10 (players selected on defense) again, but (I believe) we should have at least a half a dozen selected again.”
‘Oh, he’s Mad’
It’s a phrase hard for Madden Tobeck not to hear from time to time. Out of the two-way players returning to the team, Tobeck was the only one to not make first-team offense.
“I think we have a great group of guys on defense. I’m not surprised we had so many guys (selected) like we did,” Tobeck said.
If personal motivation for being snubbed wasn’t enough for Tobeck, his teammates are making sure that he turns out like the Moose (his brother, Utah State linebacker Mason Tobeck).
“We tease him about it a little from time to time,” Tanner Carle said. “He’s the only one returning that didn’t make first-team offense, (and) we remind him about it. It’s always good to give him motivation.”
It’s okay that Tobeck didn’t get first-team honors, as the kid who beat him out won the Nisqually League MVP while leading the entire state in rushing yards: Vashon’s Bryce Hoisington.
Locked down in back
Cougars have arguably the top defensive duo in league with Austin Carder and Tyquan Coleman. They have it all — speed, size and the football acumen to turn the Cougar defense into a no-fly zone.
“It’s our intensity in practice and games, we just hold ourselves to a very high standard,” Carder said. “Every practice you have to have a certain number of turnover unless you’re running (afterward).”
On October 24, 2015, Cascade Christian’s defense had its biggest statement game: A match-up with league rival Vashon and the state’s leading rusher Bryce Hoisington (2,929 yards, 292.9 yards per game). Entering the game, Hoisington was having his way with teams as the Pirates’ playmaker entered the meeting with the Cougars averaging more than 250-plus yards per game at the time.
Except against Cascade Christian.
“We knew he (Hoisington) was going to be good,” Corbin Nohr said. “(But) for us, it starts off with defense. Defense wins championships. You get a good defense, score more on defense, and you’ll have a better chance to win each game.”
Against Cascade Christian’s first unit, Hoisington floundered. He could only muster 45 yards against the Cougars’ No. 1 defensive unit. Without a rushing attack, both Carder and Coleman picked apart the Pirates’ passing attack. Both came away with pick-sixes in the win.
“It felt good (beating Vashon), and it just proved how good our defense was last year. It proved that we wouldn’t back down even if (Hoisington) was the state’s leading rusher,” Coleman said.
Time and again, Hoisington and company faced speed like no other.
By the end of the game, Hoisington could only muster 95 yards on 54 carries, with over half his yards coming in the final minutes of the fourth quarter against the Cougars’ No. 2 defensive unit.
In that one game, Cascade Christian’s defense was the no-doubt-about-it best defensive unit in the Nisqually League.
And with six of those guys back, it looks to be more of the same when the league lines up across from Cascade Christian’s defense.
The returning six
▪ Austin Carder, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, WR/DB: The Cougars’ top ball hawker, as he turned out highlights on both sides of the ball last year. Selected first-team offense and defense.
▪ Zackary Bartolome, 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, RB/LB: Not only a walking highlight-reel for the Cougars, “Barto” often changes the direction a game is heading in one play. Selected first-team defense and offense.
▪ Corbin Nohr, 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, OL/DL: Quick for a lineman, Nohr continued the Cougars’ tradition of lineman dominating the trenches on both sides of the ball. Oh, and he has a decent 3-point shot, too. First-team defense and offense.
▪ Tanner Carle, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, TE/LB: Simply put, Carle is tough. Made bone-crunching hits at linebacker while absorbing blows over the middle at tight end. First-team offense and defense.
▪ Tyquan Coleman, 6-foot, 170 pounds, RB/DB: It’s a toss-up on who’s better in coverage between him and Carder. He has an innate ability at reading the ball in the air, Coleman looks to be even better in year 2. Gets pass for playing “D” only last year. First-team defense.
▪ Madden Tobeck, 6-foot, 185 pounds, RB/LB: He’s fast, he’s strong and now he’s using his second-team offense selection last season as motivation to punish defenses running the ball like he does hammering ball carriers at linebacker. First-team defense, second-team offense.