At Carroll, as with most schools, the “hands team” plays on special teams. But on defense, the Chargers send out “The Hands Team.”
Led by defensive end Tyler Hands, the Carroll defense put on a clinic, forcing five turnovers and scoring two touchdowns for the second straight week. The Chargers' first-team defense left the field late in the third quarter with a 41-point lead en route to a 48-28 victory.
Barely a minute into the game, Hands recovered a fumble in the Delta end zone for the Chargers' first score. Later in the first quarter, the junior defensive lineman snatched a loose ball out of the air and returned it 52 yards for another score and 21-0 lead. He was credited with an interception.
When a defensive end scores two touchdowns, it's tempting to explain it away as simply being in the right place at the right time. But with Hands and the rest of the Chargers defense, it is not luck, fortune or chance. It is by design. They don't just go to the ball, they go for the ball, evidenced by their 10 turnovers forced.
“Part of it might be luck,” Hands said, laughing. “But part of it I owe to my teammates for forcing those loose balls.”
On Hands' first score, linebacker Drue Tranquill forced a fumble by Bryce Dishman, and after linebacker Matt Melchi batted the ball into the end zone, Hands fell on it. On the second score, fellow lineman Taylor Goshen hit quarterback Cade Jones as he prepared to throw. An opportunistic Hands snatched it and rambled to the end zone.
So, was it a fumble recovery or an interception?
“Interception for sure,” Hands exclaimed. “The ball never hit the ground. Interception!”
Hands' post-game enthusiasm was matched on the field by his teammates. The Chargers play an aggressive 4-4 defense that takes advantage of their speed, experience and physicality.
“We have eight starters back on defense, and several are three-year starters,” said Carroll coach Doug Dinan. “They create opportunities by flying to the ball and hitting hard.”
Said co-defensive coordinator Nico Tigulis: “This year we've been practicing turnover circuits each week and the kids have bought in. On every tackle you will see at least one of our kids trying to get the ball. We have the talent, but now they are experienced, so the game has slowed down for them. They have so much confidence.”
One of the defensive leaders is senior linebacker Ross Koble, who scored his own “pick 6” last week against Goshen.
“We knew we'd be strong, but to come out and score four touchdowns and get 10 turnovers in two games,” Koble asked rhetorically. “We are off to a great start. Our line is awesome; Hands is a goon. He's got great speed, strength, everything you want in a lineman.”
Koble and Justin Tranquill also had interceptions for the Chargers, and Andy Noll and Ryan Anchor recovered fumbles. Carroll also had 10 tackles for loss, led by Drue Tranquill's four.