by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
Same destination, different route taken.
SouthLake Christian defensive linemen Taylor Jurney and Scott Richardson have been dual disruptions for opposing quarterbacks this season. They use distinctly different styles to accomplish the same thing: a sack.
In four games, Jurney, a defensive end, has seven sacks.
Richardson, a nose guard, also has seven sacks.
“I don’t know,” Richardson said, pulling on his cleats before a practice this week. “I think I might have eight.”
Jurney, smiling nearby: “Then I must have eight, too.”
Richardson: “But I lead the team in tackles.”
The friendly competition has played a key role in SouthLake Christian’s 4-0 start this season. Jurney and Richardson, the Eagles’ version of Mapquest, break down offenses with constant pressure.
“With my size (6 foot 1, 200 pounds), I’m not going to put a bull rush on anyone,” Jurney said. “I use my speed and quickness to get around (offensive) tackles. The key is having quick hands, quick feet and that initial contact. You’ve got to get the offensive lineman off of you.”
Brute strength. Picture a rhinoceros knocking over a refrigerator.
He’s 6 feet tall and one of the strongest 230-pounders around. Eagles coaches and teammates shake their heads and smile recalling Richardson weightlifting tales.
At a Shrine Bowl combine in Charlotte last summer, participants competed to see how many times they could bench press 185 pound s.
“I did it 19 times and thought that wasn’t bad,” Jurney said. “Then I found out his number.”
Richardson lifted it consecutively 47 times, a combine record.
The national record: 52.
Last summer, Richardson won the teen division of the Republic of Texas Strongest Man competition. He benches more than 400 pounds, squats more than 600 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds.
Explosive, with talent and a you-can’t-stop-me attitude.
“Everything reflects on my hard work in the offseason,” Richardson said. “Weight room and sprints. (On Sept.18) at 9 o’clock p.m. I was sprinting near Presbyterian Hospital. Training twice a day in the summer, doing everything I can to get ahead of my opponents.”
“It’s the will to be the best, the will to be successful. My parents have always put that past me, especially my dad. I’m one of those people that don’t stop until I’m on top.”
SouthLake Christian coach Rich Landis said Jurney benefits from being a third-year starter at defensive end.
“He’s not the biggest, but he’s very quick for that position,” Landis said. “Taylor is a kid that’s real easy to coach. He knows that position well, and he has the technique to play it well.”
Richardson, who Landis said “is an extremely powerful kid,” has been getting double-teamed by blockers in recent games. But it hasn’t slowed him down much.
The attention blockers must pay to Jurney and Richardson has a positive ripple effect on the defense. SouthLake Christian linebackers often have more room to roam and make tackles. In the past, sometimes they’d get caught up in the traffic near the line of scrimmage.
“Big hits change the game,” Richardson said. “That’s what we say all the time on our team.”
Added Jurney: “Sacks or interceptions just get the momentum changing. And it can take the other team out of the game, especially if it’s third-and-long. Then it’s fourth-and-20.”
The duo is a bit different in its pre-game routine, too.
Jurney, as is the case with many players, takes it easy. Relax. Quiet. Conserve energy for the ensuing battle.
Then, there’s Richardson.
He goes to the school gym and gradually works his way up to lifting 315 pounds in what he calls a “fast triple.” Then he does some jumps with weights on his shoulders. Then he flips some tires for about 20 minutes.
“I can tell immediately how good of a game I’ll have,” Richardson said. “If I can destroy it, lift it in half a second, I know I’ve peaked in my explosiveness that day.”
It’s hard to argue with that routine, based on Richardson’s play.
“He does all that beforehand,” Landis said, “and by the time he meets us to go out on the field, he’s worked up a pretty good sweat.”
SouthLake Christian is off to the best start in school history. The victories have been by 20, 19, 18 and 19 points.
“We’ve got solid tacklers all around,” Jurney said. “All of our defensive line is big this year. The linebackers are solid, and the defensive backs hit. I put a lot more confidence in our defense than I did last year.”