NEW CHAPEL HILL — The top-ranked Chapel Hill Bulldogs are still in the state playoffs.
Many will remember Andrew Tucker’s 93-yard dash to glory in the final minute to secure the Bulldogs’ 27-20 win over Waco La Vega last week. But it was all made possible by the defense’s goal-line stand that was every bit as memorable and dramatic.
On fourth-and-goal from the Bulldogs’ 1, a wall of Chapel Hill defenders stood tall and stuffed La Vega running back Randy Gober for no gain with 1:32 remaining in the game.
“We knew we had to step up,” senior defensive tackle Sir Calvin Wallace said. “It was just a matter of how bad did we want it. We wanted it really bad, and we’ve worked too hard to go home before we reached our goal.”
Added fellow senior defensive lineman Colton Moorehead: “Our mindset was we had to stop them. We looked at the clock and knew there wasn’t much time out there.”
For two years, Wallace and Moorehead have been the key cogs in a big, fast and physical defensive front.
“We’re fast and we get to the ball real well,” Moorehead said. “We run down plays from the backside, and we just clog up the holes and let the linebackers fill them.”
Moorehead (6-3, 255) has switched from defensive tackle, where he was a first-team all-state selection as a junior, to end this year.
It has allowed teammate Brandoyn Bell to emerge as a force up front as well. Last week against La Vega, Bell racked up a team-high 19 tackles and recorded a sack.
Moorehead, who gave his verbal commitment to Northwestern State of the Southland Conference on Tuesday, has taken the position change in stride. For the season, he leads the team with six sacks and is tied for the lead in tackles for loss at 10.
“He takes good angles and he’s constantly working his hands, working to the upfield shoulder,” Chapel Hill coach Thomas Sitton said. “He does a good job on the pass rush.”
Wallace, affectionately known around the Chapel Hill community as “Z-ro” due to his striking resemblance to the Houston-based rapper, is hard to miss at 6-2, 292 pounds.
But Sitton says Wallace brings more than size to the equation.
“He’s one of the more athletic big kids that I’ve ever been around,” he said. “He runs well, changes direction well. He’s hard to block, and he does a good job of getting penetration and making plays.”
Wallace, who committed to North Texas during the summer, has 54 tackles (eight for loss) to go along with three sacks, despite missing the first four games of the season due to an ankle injury.
The combo of Moorehead and Wallace require extra attention from the opposing offense.
“I don’t mind being double-teamed,” Wallace said. “If I get double-teamed, (Moorehead) can get pressure and get a sack or a linebacker could come in and make a big play. As long as it’s helping the team, it doesn’t bother me.”
Following last week’s thrilling win over La Vega, the players had the weekend to celebrate.
But that was it.
“When Monday got here, the coaches told us what we all did wrong,” Moorehead said. “We started game-planning for Navasota.”
Chapel Hill (12-0) and Navasota (11-1) meet Friday at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco with a spot in the Class 3A Division I state semifinals on the line.
And the focus shifts to the Rattlers’ dynamic quarterback Kadarius Baker, who has passed for almost 2,800 yards and 37 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Last season, the Bulldogs defense sacked Navasota quarterback Ian Day 11 times in a 42-13 rout.
But Wallace doesn’t see too many similarities with Navasota’s new quarterback.
“The quarterback is not much of a scrambling quarterback as he was last year, so that’s going to be a little bit different for us,” he said. “He’s more of a pocket passer.”
Prior to La Vega, the last team that played Chapel Hill to within a touchdown was Hallsville in the fourth week of the season.
And according to Wallace, the pressure will be on the Bulldogs early.
“Coach said if you let a team hang around, they’ll start getting hope,” he said. “You can’t let them get hope in this game. We have to demolish their hope from the get-go.”
NOTES: Kickoff for Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. The winner will face either West Columbia (12-0) or La Vernia (7-5), which play each other Friday night at the Berry Center in Cypress. … The Bulldogs, who average 49 points per game, need 27 points break the single-season school record set by last year’s state finalist team.