Chemistry a main reason for defensive success

BENNINGTON — The Southern Vermont Storm have gotten off to a strong start.

The offense has been a big part of that, scoring 95 points in the first four games of the year. But it's the defense that has led the way as the Storm have a 3-1 record.

They've allowed only 37 points and have weapons all over the place.

According to the players, the reason for their success is simple: Chemistry.

"I didn't expect the success we have had," said linebacker Gary Hewson. "This is my fifth season with the team. The fact that a group of us have been playing together allows us to build the consistency you expect out of a team. Everybody knows their job on defense and it gives [the front seven] room to run, especially since we know the defensive backs are going to do their job."

The longest tenured defensive player on the Storm is linebacker Adrian Gruber, who has played for 11 seasons. There are others with years of experience with the Storm, including defensive end Billy Demers, linebacker Kevin Coon and defensive back Perry Snyder.

"Chemistry means more than anything," said Demers, who leads the Storm with 5 1/2 sacks. "I know the other guys strengths and weaknesses and knowing that allows me to adjust my game. It gives us a lot more opportunity to play off of each other."

On Saturday, the Marauders offense never made it past the Storm's 40-yard line. Offensives have struggled against the Storm, as they have only allowed 18 defensive points this season, as the rest have been scored by opposing defenses or special teams units.

"The progression of the defense in the last four games has been phenomenal," said head coach Guy Changa. "I couldn't be more happy with the defense so far this season. With Gary Hewson out there, he runs the defense. Having him out there is like having a coach on the field. As a linebacker he makes sure everyone is in the right position. Adrian Gruber, who is in his 11th year playing middle linebacker, gives us a lot of experience on defense. These guys have seen so many looks in the league that they know what to expect."

Leading the way for the Storm is their defense, which was only allowing a touchdown a game, until they shut out the Marauders 29-0 last weekend. The defense swarmed the Marauders as they came away with five sacks and an interception in their first shutout of the season.

"Talent goes a long way, but without the camaraderie and brotherhood, you're not going to get the same result," said Demers, the defensive MVP of the league in 2014.

They have proven that they win the close games and can take advantage of opposing team's weaknesses. As a result, the Storm have a 3-1 record, good for second place in the Maritime conference. They find themselves half a game back with four games left to play in the season.

"You can get all the talented players in the world, but you cannot replace chemistry. When you play together as a team like these guys do, it's lights out," Changa said. You cannot replace the football IQ that these guys have."

The Storm and their stout defense look to build of their victory against the Marauders on Saturday as they play the Franklin County Greyhounds at Mount Anthony Union Middle School at 4 p.m.


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