After Tanner Savoy was injured last year as an outside linebacker for the Justin Northwest football team, he came back and reverted to the weak safety or “rocket” position he had previously played.
It has proven to be a good move. Northwest enters the playoffs with one of the strongest teams – and defenses – it’s ever been able to put on the field.
Savoy is just one of the key reasons for the Texans’ 9-1 record, the best the school has registered.
While Northwest has become known this season for efficient offense, the defense has certainly been holding up its end of the bargain.
Savoy said the strength of the corners is a major factor.
“Our corners are really good,” he said. “There aren’t many deep shots taken on us and we don’t get beat deep too often.”
At the rocket position, Savoy said his strength is giving run support.
Savoy acknowledges that while he’s able to play the run effectively, his first concern is to read his key and protect the pass.
“You can’t go until you know,” Savoy quoted as though he’s heard the weak safety mantra plenty of times before. “If not, they’ll fade on you,” he said of the pattern left open for a receiver. “I think pass first and see if the running back has the ball, then you gotta go.”
Playing at 6-1 and 185, Savoy is still cautious about how he rolls into a hole against a big back.
“I still have to go low on the big ones,” he said.
His size and quickness are attributes he appreciates in his number 28 namesake, Adrian Peterson.
“I paid Tyler Weaver $20 for the number when I was number 29,” Savoy admitted.
Northwest and Savoy have shown they can defend the pass.
Savoy has four interceptions, while corners Caden McDonald and Emmanuel Ogunwolu each have three picks.
Going into the season after being at OLB, Savoy said he was hoping to grab a couple of picks this year.
“Now I have four. I need to go get some more,” he said.
Those numbers are helping Northwest toward what Savoy said is one of its goals for the season.
“We want to be the number-one defensive team in district,” he said. “We are just trying to stop the other offense enough and give the ball to our offense, who can score. We want to get the ball back for our offense and get turnovers.”
Having lost to Aledo is now an ancient memory to Savoy and his teammates, and he noted that Northwest will be playing in the Division I bracket and Aledo will play in Division II.
“But we know we can compete at a high level,” Savoy said. “We can beat whomever in the playoffs.”
Northwest will take on Denton in the first round of the playoffs. The goal now, Savoy said, is to win each day, including making each practice the best it can be.
As a senior, Savoy takes pride in that level of expectation. Northwest went 1-9 last year.
“I think some of us (seniors) and Coach Poe have helped change the program,” Savoy.