Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Can 'The Prowler' help well-conditioned Rockwall-Heath outlast Highland Park?
Well-conditioned unit has stood its ground in numerous close wins
ROCKWALL — One of Rockwall-Heath’s most valuable players spent Tuesday’s practice sitting alone in the equipment facility, with stacks of weights on his powerful legs.
Cornerback Mario Henderson, defensive end Jordan Points and linebacker Gentry Rogers introduced their unsung hero.
“He’s right over there,” Points said. “The Prowler.”
The Prowler won’t play when Heath and Highland Park meet Friday in a matchup of 4A unbeatens. Much of the weighted sled’s work is done.
The Hawks felt burning pain in their legs, hips and arms while pushing the new device in rigorous preseason sessions. Now they are feeling the gain.
“You definitely notice it in the fourth quarter,” Points said. “You can feel the other team wearing down.”
While most other top teams have driven fancy spread offenses to blowout victories, the Hawks took a retro route to 8-0, chugging along with tough defense and close wins.
The Hawks’ offense has scored more than 26 points only twice. But only one team — Wylie, with 21 points — has managed to exceed 14 points against them.
Six of Heath’s games have been decided by eight or fewer points.
“I don’t think we’re any more talented than anybody we play,” coach Mickey Moss said. “But we’re blessed to have some physical kids who have shown a real commitment to work. We’re finding ways to win.”
The only other time Heath started 8-0 was 2008. That high-powered offensive team, which averaged 40.6 points, lost to Sulphur Springs in the state quarterfinals, 52-47.
The current offense takes fewer risks, content in a balanced scheme that is more ball control than point total. Most of the swag is generated on defense.
“The biggest difference is that we’ve really come together,” Rogers said. “We understand the importance of defense. We’re getting more turnovers, because we’re more aggressive.”
In eight games, Heath already has established school records with 12 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. The 2008 team came up with 21 turnovers.
Henderson has been the primary big-play catalyst with five interceptions. He attributes his success to the coaching staff’s simple gameplan, the defensive front’s ability to pressure quarterbacks without blitzing and, of course, the Prowler.
“We’ve worked really hard to get in shape,” he said. “That’s why we play so well in the fourth quarter.”
Shredding the spread
Rockwall-Heath’s defense by the numbers:
3.2 Opponents’ average rushing yards per carry.
13 Average points allowed.
24 Turnovers forced (12 ints; 12 fumble recoveries).
24 Points allowed in fourth quarter.
86.9 Rushing yards allowed per game.