The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

High School Sports

October 16, 2013

Somerset defense has been solid

SIDMAN — The football revival at Somerset has produced plenty of memorable plays from offensive standouts such as Tanner Stull and Dylan Barnes.

It’s hard to miss those quarterbacks as they make cuts and crafty moves downfield, or big, bruising back Matt Boyer plowing through the opposition.

But the Golden Eagles’ rock-solid defense has been just as important to Somerset’s winning six of its first seven games.

“We’re very lucky to have good football players right now,” Somerset coach Bob Landis said of his defense. “All the kids are weight room guys. The strength and conditioning really has done a lot for us.”

Somerset has outscored opponents 202-98.

Fifty-five of the 98 points allowed came in the past two weeks against Bedford (a 35-27 win) and undefeated Richland (28-24 loss).

But consider that the Eagles are the only team to hold Richland under 43 points this season, and that Bedford had a combined 151 points in its three games prior to meeting Somerset.

Junior middle linebacker Logan Eller ranks third in the area with 90 tackles, including 50 solo stops.

“He really has turned into a true Mike linebacker this year,” Landis said. “He really committed himself in the weight room this year and came back bigger, faster and stronger.”

Junior defensive end Bryce Mostoller leads the area with eight sacks and has 62 tackles.

“It’s his motor that makes him special,” Landis said of Mostoller, a two-year starter. “He’s always out there going. He’s always moving.”

Senior nose guard Boyer is an anchor, while senior end Stephen Sujansky and junior tackle Colton Slayback also are up front. The outside linebacker tandem of senior Doug Berkebile and junior Michael VanLenten complete the 4-3 set.

“Our front seven are very, very good,” said Landis, whose team hosts Forest Hills (4-3) on Friday. “We fly to the ball.”

“Getting Stull back at corner helps,” Landis said, “and Jordan Beistel and Zach Baker, our safeties, nobody talks about because we don’t have big interception numbers and the tackles are down because the guys are making the stops at the line. Justin Wilkow is solid at cornerback.”

Sophomore cornerback Jake Heiple stepped in when Stull was out with an injury and performed well.

“There are not many holes there, and these guys play very well as a unit,” Landis said.

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