Dominating defense defines Amite

You don’t become one of the perennial contenders in the state and reach the state final four times in eight seasons by mistake.

The Amite Warriors (13-1) will face Welsh (11-3) at noon Friday in the Superdome. What has powered Amite back to the final this season is its defense. And it is not just any ordinary defense.

The Warriors have produced seven shutouts and allowed 6.7 points a game.

"Our defense has been playing lights out since Week 2," said Amite head coach Zephaniah Powell. "We haven’t surrendered that many points. The most we have given up was Week 1 (24) and the next-highest point total was 20 this past Friday night to Ferriday. Our defense has been our strong point for us."

The only real bump in the road was in Week 1 when Amite lost 24-23 to Metairie Park-Country Day.

Since the loss, the Warriors have won 13 consecutive games and didn’t give up more than 18 points until Ferriday scored 20 in the semifinals last week.

"We opened up with a strong Metairie Park-Country Day team," Powell said. "Our kids and coaching staff did not panic.

"We knew we played against a well-coached team, but we just didn’t to the things that it took to win the game. We brought our kids in that Saturday morning, got back to work Sunday. It has been a pretty good season from that point on. We just had to come in and show our kids the things that they were missing — a missed block or a missed tackle, misalignment or missed assignment. Our offense didn’t change and our defense didn’t change and our personnel didn’t change."

The defense starts up front with five-star defensive end Ishmael Sopsher. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound senior is regarded as one of the top linemen in the nation and LSU and Alabama are reportedly fighting over him. Sopsher has 17 tackles for a loss and five sacks, but he is not alone as junior end Larry Woolridge leads the team in sacks.

"Our other defensive tackle, Shemar Buckley, has been playing some great football," Powell said.

The Warriors also boast strong linebackers in tackles leader and senior Qadry Jackson and juniors Qabari Jackson, James McGowan and Daran Branch, who is rated a three-star recruit by 247sports.

The Warriors are also loaded in the secondary with four-star safety Devonta Lee, who, like Sopsher, is being sought after by LSU and Alabama, and three-star cornerback Kyle Maxwell. Both also play wide receiver.

"(Lee) is everything that you dream you could coach," Powell said. "He’s big, strong, fast and physical. He can do a lot for us.

"We play a lot of kids in our secondary because we have to play both ways. Kyle Maxwell is another highly rated kid. He loves playing corner."

It helps that the Warriors have a high-scoring offense that is averaging 44 points a game, led by three-star quarterback Amani Gilmore, who is committed to play football and baseball for Kentucky.

"He (Gilmore) hasn’t turned the ball over that much this year," Powell said. "He is a true duel threat. He can beat you with his arm and legs."

Running back Corey McKnight has found plenty of room to run behind a large offensive line led by senior center Dakota Cox (6-3, 310). McKnight has rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 30-plus touchdowns while Gilmore has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 30 combined touchdowns.

"They have done a fantastic job of running the football for us," Powell said. "We spread people out and can throw the ball too, but in championship football you have to be able to play good defense and run the football."

<span>Amite vs. Welsh …………… Noon CST</span>

””SuperdomeAssociated Press

Local News

From Moss Bluff to Diitabiki and back again

Crime

O’Brien sentenced to life for rape of child

Crime

Five accused of attempted ATM burglaries

Local News

I-10 bridge task force chair: Wednesday crash highlights need for new bridge

Local News

National Seat Check Saturday at Southwest Beverage

Crime

State Police investigating officer-involved fatal shooting of inmate

Crime

LC man arrested after shooting at neighbor’s home

State News

Coroner identifies man killed by alligator

Crime

Sulphur High student arrested after threat made

Crime

Sheriff: Escapee shot after firing at officers

Local News

Governor optimistic about federal hurricane aid for SW La.

Local News

Eastbound lane of I-10 bridge remains closed after fiery crash

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Finally, a feel-good movie

Business News

$21M rice mill should be complete by next harvest

Crime

Three more linked to Oakdale bar shooting

Local News

State confirms seventh pediatric death from COVID-19 in fourth surge

Local Business News

Jeff Davis hoping to join program designed to attract business

Local Business News

EMS Academy looking for ‘right people in right spots’

Local Business News

Four state amendments await voters Nov. 13

Local Business News

George Swift column: Recovery, rebuilding after storms

Local Business News

Names in the News: People making a difference in the Lake Area

Local News

Breaux has honed some serious culinary skills since his Crock-pot days

Local News

Cemetery Association asking for help with hurricane-damaged graves

Crime Brief

Fort Polk soldiers charged in DeRidder drive-by shooting