Defense sparks Cavalier to 3-0 start
CAVALIER, N.D. -- The shutout streak ended at 11 quarters for Cavalier.
After giving up no points in its first two games of the high school football season, Cavalier allowed two meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns last Friday in a 40-14 win against Dunseith.
While the defense has been stingy, veteran Tornadoes coach Sandy Laxdal isn’t sure how good it is.
The first three teams on undefeated Cavalier’s schedule -- Larimore (0-3), North Border (1-2) and Dunseith (1-2) -- have a combined 2-7 record. Cavalier has scored 164 points while allowing 14 against those teams.
“That’s definitely a concern,’’ Cavalier coach Sandy Laxdal said. “We haven’t faced a big-play running back yet, a kid who can go to the house on any given play. We haven’t been tested. How will we react when teams put long drives together against us.’’
But, Laxdal said, “We are pretty solid on defense. The kids are fundamentally sound. They’re aggressive. They tackle well. They know their assignments. They take a lot of pride in getting three-and-outs.’’
The first big test for the Tornadoes figures to be Friday, when Cavalier and North Prairie match 3-0 records in a 7 p.m. 9-man game at Rolla.
Like the Tornadoes, North Prairie has dominated its first three opponents, holding a 124-36 scoring advantage.
The Cougars have a big-play back in Xavier Mitchell. He has scored 12 of the team’s 17 touchdowns, seven of those on plays covering more than 20 yards.
“He runs hard,’’ Laxdal said. “He’s physical. He’ll break a lot of tackles. He’s shifty in the open field. He’s an all-state caliber running back.’’
That’s a challenge the Tornadoes have enjoyed.
“Our goal every game is under 50 yards in total offense against our first team,’’ senior lineman Isiah LeTexier said. “We don’t want to allow a point. It’s part of the Cavalier football tradition.
“We pride ourselves in our defense. We like to hit. All nine guys are flying to the ball to force fumbles, get interceptions or get to the quarterback. I think we’re pretty aggressive.’’
The defense is led by the line of the LeTexier brothers, Isiah and Andre, along with Dan Hinkle and Tanner Urlaub.
Cavalier has already forced eight turnovers. It has 11 sacks -- four by Isiah LeTexier and 3.5 each by Andre LeTexier and Demetrius Avila. Opponents average only 142 yards in total offense per game.
“It’s a swarm mentality,’’ Laxdal said. “We don’t rely on one or two kids to make plays. We’ve gotten good penetration on the line and had a lot of kids flowing to the ball.
“When you do that, it makes your defense look pretty good.’’
Cavalier at a glance
Rushing leaders: Tanner Urlaub 29-240, Colton Ratchenski 15-155, Demetrius Avila 9-120.
Passing leader: Ratchenski 19-26, 379 yards.
Receiving leaders: Andre Carrier 13-259, Trevor Hinkle 4-85, Brodie Cluchie 4-74.
Tackle leaders (solo-assisted): Avila 23-9, Isiah LeTexier 12-15, Andre LeTexier 18-8, Brannin Cleem 14-6.