Ferris defense making strides

ZENNER: Ferris State linebackers KC Zenner and James Wimberly track down a Grand Valley State player during the 2014 season. (Pioneer file photo)

ZENNER: Ferris State linebackers KC Zenner and James Wimberly track down a Grand Valley State player during the 2014 season. (Pioneer file photo)

Bulldogs’ defense focused on bouncing back from playoff loss

BIG RAPIDS — After losing 46-33 to Ohio Dominican University in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs last season, the Ferris State football team’s defense is ready to get the bad taste out of its mouth.

The Bulldogs’ defense allowed 548 yards, six touchdowns and didn’t force a turnover against the Panthers. With 2015 spring practices underway, the loss is still lingering in the minds of returning players.

“We were all really eager to get back on the field after losing that last game,” said linebacker KC Zenner, who will be a sophomore in the fall. “Now, we have been focusing on making big plays and getting the ball back to the offense.”

Ferris has had eight spring practices so far, and Zenner said the defense is working to improve in all areas.

“We are attacking really well (in practice),” Zenner said. “We are playing as physical as the coaches will allow us, and doing a pretty decent job of getting some turnovers, too.”

FSU lost five starters on defense in Corey Stone, Marcus Cribbs, Carlton Johnson, Darnell Morris and AJ McEwen, but Zenner is confident in the returners.

“We lost some guys but have players stepping into those holes who will do well,” Zenner said. “The practices have been pretty intense as everyone is out there trying to get better every day.”

The Bulldogs led the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in rushing defense last season, allowing a league -low 116.1 rushing yards per game. But they were the second-worst passing defense, allowing 261.8 yards per game through the air.

“Our goal is to have a team defense, have everyone get to the ball on every play,” said Anthony Darkangelo, who will be a junior in the fall. “It’s been a really hard, competitive spring. Everyone has been working hard and hustling, so it’s been nice.”

Darkangelo has not yet practiced in the spring due to surgery he had in January, he will back before the start of the season.

Zenner and Darkangelo led the Bulldogs in tackles last season, combining for 179 stops. Darkangelo also had a team-high 11.5 tackles for a loss as the linebacking combo started each of FSU’s 12 games.

“It’s great to have someone who plays the game just like you on defense,” Darkangelo said. “He knows exactly what to do all the time, and I have trust in him. If we can get everyone on the same page, it will work out nice.”

Leave a Reply