Bellaire#039;s defense works in shadows of offense

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2003

The Bellaire Big Reds are known for their offensive prowess. And maybe the defense prefers it that way.

Bellaire uses a wide-open offense led by sophomore quarterback Nate Davis, younger brother of Jose Davis, who throws to a variety of receivers.

But the defense seems to be operating in the shadow of the offense which steals the headlines.

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"Everyone talks about Bellaire's offense, and that's understandable. It's pretty good. But any good team has to have a good defense and they do," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "Bellaire has always had tough kids. They play hard and they like to come up and hit you."

In last week's 27-6 win over Westfall, the defense shut down running back Brice Redman who came into the game as the school's all-time leading rusher with more than 2,800 yards. Bellaire's defense held Redman to just 67 yards on 18 carries.

The defense is led by linebackers Scott Antonik, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior, and Bryan Mancini, a 5-11, 230-pound senior. Antonik has 82 tackles and three sacks while Mancini has 70 stops.

Junior defensive lineman Dirk Soland (6-0, 210) has racked up five quarterback sacks and senior defensive back Maurice Jeffreys (6-0, 190) has 35 tackles and three interceptions.

The Big Reds have allowed 169 points this season, but 43 came in a loss to unbeaten Lisbon Beaver which downed Gallipolis 38-13 in the Division III regional quarterfinals. Bellaire had four key starters out against Lisbon Beaver.

"Lisbon has a pretty good team. You kind of have to throw that game out like you would our DeSales game," Lutz said.

The Big Reds defense has not had a shutout, but opponents have scored only one touchdown in a game six times and two scores in two others. The other win was 21-18 over Union Local in Bellaire's homecoming game.