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Div. I North semis: Senior Bryant leads defense for Raiders, who face rival Sp. Springs


12:00 AM, Nov. 09, 2012 EST

Douglas quarterback Michael Nolting is hit by Raiders linebacker Drew Bryant on Nov. 2 at Reed High. Nolting's pass was intercepted . / Tom Smedes/Special to RGJ

In an age of flashy offenses geared for big plays and high-scoring affairs, the defenses that often fare the best are the exact opposite.

Not necessarily simple. But definitely not exotic.

It takes the right player to lead such a defense, and Reed has that player in inside linebacker Drew Bryant.

"He's just a blue-collar guy who works his (butt) off," Raiders coach Ernie Howren said. "He's not exciting. He's not flashy. He just goes out and freaking gets after people. There is no flashy, exciting back story with him. He just does what he's supposed to do and does it well.

"He gives us a full-speed effort every single play. There is never a play you see where he didn't quite give us what we needed there. He's always going 110 percent and that's all you can ask."

Bryant recorded 115 tackles and 21/2 sacks in 14 games last season and has already bettered those numbers through 11 games this season. He has a team-leading 136 tackles and 41/2 sacks and is a major reason why the Raiders are in the Division I North semifinals tonight against cross-town rival Spanish Springs.

"We saw this coming when he was a freshman," Howren said of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior. "He's always had the business-like attitude when he walks on the field. He doesn't say a whole lot. He just does his job and he does it very fast and very hard."

Last year, Bryant benefited from playing opposite Broc Westlake, the region's defensive player of the year. There was no such luxury this season, when all the attention opposing offenses paid to Westlake shifted to Bryant.

It didn't matter. Bryant followed in Westlake's footsteps and earned the coaches' nod as defensive player of the year.

"There are just a few more guys in your face," Bryant said of the extra attention. "If you fly around they can't send everybody at you or else someone else isn't going to be blocked and will make the play. ... This year, I just wanted to make sure I was the fastest guy out there. Last year, I was getting my reads but I wasn't getting to the ball as fast as I wanted. I wanted to improve on my speed this year. If you get there before the fat linemen they're not going to block you.

"Our offense gives us a great opportunity, scoring a lot of points, that our defense can go out there and end games. You go out there in the third quarter and get a three-and-out on the first series, these last four games it just ended those games. You could see it in the kids' faces that they didn't want to play anymore. ... I feel like it's my defense. If we do good or bad I feel like it's on me."

Howren sees that leadership each time Bryant steps on the field.

"His demeanor on the field fuels us," Howren said. "He gets on his guys when it's needed and he pumps up his guys what that's needed. He does it the right way. He doesn't berate his guys. He's a team-guy and that's the kind of leader you want.

"He is our team leader and it comes down that he is one of the best players on our team. He's accepted that role and it's not easy for some guys to accept that role. It's not like he comes in and acts differently, he just does his job at a very high level and shows everybody this is the level of expectation we need to be successful."

 

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Rank School Record
1 Elko High School
Elko, NV
9-1-0
2 Lowry High School
Winnemucca, NV
19-2-0
3 Edward C Reed High School
Sparks, NV
21-6-0
4 Galena High School
Reno, NV
7-6-0
5 Reno High School
Reno, NV
10-6-0

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