SHELBY — Alligators are known for their powerful bite and toughness.
These ferocious characteristics have the alligator as one of the most feared creatures on the earth. With the ability to bite down on its prey with 2,960 pounds of force as well as having bony armor in its skins and serum in its blood to combat bacteria and viruses, this species is something to fear.
This season, the Northside High School Gators are proving that they are both tough inside and out, and the power of their Gator Chomp defense has the team atop Region 3-2A with a 4-0 mark and a 9-0 record overall.
The Gators continued that dominance Thursday with a 70-0 win over the Coahoma County Red Panthers extending their current winning streak to 12 games dating back to the 2018 season.
While the offense has been impressive in each performance scoring 386 points, it’s the defense, which has only allowed 20 points, that is slowly creeping under the radar, forcing opponents to take notice.
In the Coahoma County win, the defense recorded three takeaways with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. One interception was returned for a score.
Their speed and physical play are the keys to their success so far this season, and head coach Tavares Johnson expressed how those two factors are vital to what they do on defense.
“The pillars of our defense are to be fast and physical, and if you want to take it to the next level, we want to be fast and physical,” Johnson said. “That is what we live by and what we practice. We give them scouting reports each week, cheat sheets, and we have film breakdowns, so we want to provide them with every tool in our arsenal for them so that they don’t have to think and can play fast.”
Johnson added that the team plays with a massive chip on its shoulder, and that has also served as bait for the Gators.
“All of the naysayers and rankings that have come out have created a chip on our shoulders. I use (that) as motivation because they feel like they are not respected, and I teach them that the only way we get respect is by taking it,” Johnson said.
“The only way we can take it is by going out there and being faster and more physical than the other team,” Johnson added.
TreShun Johnson (junior linebacker), DeAnthony Brown (junior linebacker), and Cordarrian Hickman (sophomore defensive end) are three of the underclassmen defensive standouts that have made an impact on the defense.
In just their second season as a squad following the merger of John F. Kennedy High School and Broad Street High School, the Northside Gators are using a total team effort to maximize each opportunity they have on the field.
Brown said the thing that exists between the guys on defense comes down to how well they play as one.
“We communicate on every level on the field, and we try to play as one whole person. The guys from Mound Bayou and the guys from Shelby have always known each other, so when we came together, we became a lot closer. Now, we are friends and family,” Brown added
Hickman expressed that playing on a defense like this is a dream come true.
“I love the way we execute and play every game. I’m not a big talker, but when we hit the field, I allow the way I play to speak for me. We enjoy playing together, and we enjoy shutting the other teams down,” Hickman said.
Johnson, who is the youngest son of the head coach, said stopping the opposing team is addictive.
“We feel like no one can touch us on the field because we work hard, and we play that way sending all 11 hats to the football,” Johnson explained. “Once you stop somebody once, you want to do it again and again.”
The younger Johnson expressed how putting the Hornets and Jaguars together made for a strong force, and they want to continue to improve as a team.
“We are a family, and we are not focused on the past,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t here for the JFK and Broad Street stuff, but all I hear from everybody is that we are focused on becoming the best Northside team we can be.”