Havelock defensive coach Caleb King affectionately calls his players a bunch of old men. Seven of his 11 starters on defense have started for him the past three seasons, and they’re peaking as the Rams head to the third round of the playoffs.
"We’ve been playing really fast," King said. "Our defense is built on speed. And, they’re doing their job really well."
Havelock has posted consecutive shutouts in the first two rounds of the playoffs. A third against Washington Friday would match the feat of the 1988 Rams, who shut out three straight playoff opponents.
"I think this defense is so good because we get to the ball really well, and we love to hit," said linebacker Andrew Ramirez, who leads the Rams with 77 tackles on the season. "We just read the offense really well. Everybody’s been getting to the ball real well and just stopping them on every play."
Havelock’s starting defense has given up just 52 points through 13 games and just one rushing touchdown the entire season. The Rams force an average of two turnovers per game and are averaging 3 1/2 quarterback sacks per game.
"They play very well as a unit together," King said. "They know each other and they feed off each other. We’re like a no-name defense. They take pride as a unit in what they do."
King said the multiple 3-4 scheme is designed to do one thing.
"We’re going to try to take away what you do best," he said. "We try to put our players in situations where they can be successful."
The task may be difficult against Washington (10-3), which rushed for 288 yards when the Rams won 34-7 in a Sept. 28 meeting.
"We’re going to have to shut down the quarterback and the running backs because that’s their main focus," Ramirez said. "Everyone is going to have to do their jobs and play football like we’ve been doing the last two games."