A team usually misses the presence of leaders come game time.
When it comes to Bullard Brook Hill senior linebacker Ross Lee, coach Terry Pirtle misses his leader when he’s not at practice.
“There’ve been a couple of practices we’ve held (Lee) out because he’s been banged up and you could tell the difference in the intensity of the defense during those practices,” Pirtle said. “He brings an intensity and a focus and a spark to our guys that’s going to be hard to replace next year.”
Lee, who Pirtle described as the heart and soul of his team’s defense, leads Brook Hill into a TAPPS Div. III-District 2 matchup with All Saints today at 7:30 p.m. from Herrington Field.
The Guard (3-3, 1-0) are coming off a 75-0 destruction of Dallas Lutheran. Despite the offensive explosion, Lee, who also plays some running back, enjoyed the shutout more.
“I liked the 0; we hadn’t had one of those this year,” he said. We’d been trying every week, been playing tough teams every week and it’s great to finally get rewarded for all the hard work we do.
“We’re going to try to keep it going, but we’re playing some tough teams coming up.”
The Trojans (3-3, 0-1) meanwhile are working to get past a 17-12 loss to T.K. Gorman, a game in which they outgained the Crusaders but were hurt by turnovers and penalties.
Senior quarterback John Norton leads All Saints’ offense with 1,053 total yards, 673 on the ground.
“John Norton’s their best athlete,” Pirtle said. “Stopping him is going to be a key point for us.”
Lee will be among a stout linebacker corps called upon to slow down Norton, freshman fullback Brice Borgeson, junior tailback Merritte Greene and the Trojans ground game.
With 58 tackles, Lee leads Brook Hill’s defense. He has forced and recovered two fumbles to go along with eight tackles for loss.
But Lee doesn’t do it alone. Starting linebackers senior Jared Dickey (52 tackles, six sacks), senior Dylan Horinek (47 tackles) and sophomore Ryan Young (40 tackles, two sacks) are the Guard’s top four tacklers.
“Everyone does their job,” Lee said. “You don’t have to worry about a weakness or anything like that. Everyone’s in their spot at the right time at the right moment.
“We have a lot more speed at the linebacking corps (than last year).”
Lee described Horinek as a smart player who’s always in the right place. As for Dickey: “(He) just brings the wood all the time; he’s just a stud.”
In addition to holding the Lions to 0 points last week, the Guard also held their opponent to 0 total yards (41 passing, -41 rushing). On the year Brook Hill is allowing 272.7 yards per game while recording 17 sacks, nine interceptions and seven fumble recoveries.
“(Lee) is a spark for our defense, no doubt,” Pirtle said. “Every day he pushes them in practice. He’s a true leader and we’re looking forward to see where he can take his skills to the next level.”
Lee has a visit scheduled to Rice and also has interest from McMurry and several other smaller schools.
First, Lee wants to help lead the Guard to a title. Lee already has one ring as a member of the state champion boys golf team last spring, but is motivated by losing two straight state finals in football.
“It’s a different kind of will this year; I think there’s more determination than ever,” Lee said. “We’re not going to be complacent. We’re going to get there and we’re going to work every week to try to prepare for the playoffs and try to make that run back to the state championship.”