Dating back to the days when Tom Weathers and Tim Daniels led the program, Red Bank has been known for its menacing defenses on the football field. This year is no different as Class 3A's third-ranked Lions have gotten off to an impressive start thanks to their stingy nature on that side of the ball.
Both Soddy-Daisy and Ooltewah were barely able to come up for air against the suffocating defense, which has allowed only 30 rushing yards this season while busting through opposing lines for 22 tackles in the backfield, including 10 sacks.
No one player has taken all the credit for a humble group organized by defensive coordinator Ted Lockerby. Each player embraces his role and knows the unit cannot thrive without everyone doing their jobs, whether in the secondary, at linebacker or up front.
Although the Lions benefit from blitzing speed on the edges — highly touted senior Cameron Bell (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) already has five sacks — credit is also due in the middle, where senior Javarius Watkins (5-10, 215) and Delmontae Gustus (6-0, 255) have thrived.
"I don't think our interior defensive linemen get enough credit for the job they do," Lions coach Chris Brown said. "Delmontae, Javarius, Delmetrius Gustus, BJ Ragland and Seth Lacy have been big for us. Those guys in the middle up front really keep our linebackers clean and have helped us get rolling defensively."
Overpowering teams in the trenches is the No. 1 priority for Watkins, who also starts at right guard for an offensive line that has led the way to 637 rushing yards and an average of nearly 8 yards per carry by the explosive backfield duo of Lumiere Strickland and Reco Trimble.
With a stout secondary led by Division I prospects Kel Eddins, Trimble and Strickland, the defense appears to be stacked at every level.
"We prefer to run the ball down their throats on the offensive side of the ball, and we all work together defensively," said Watkins, who is a third-year starter. "There is a lot of pride we have every time we put on the Red Bank jersey. Coach Brown has really inspired us to leave it all on the field every chance we get this year.
"With the next practice and game not promised due to the coronavirus, we are going out there and playing our hearts out every night for each other. We are trying to kick it up to the next level."
All week the Lions (2-0) have been focused on showing exactly how dominant their program can be after getting all they wanted from Signal Mountain the past two seasons in Region 3-3A play. The Eagles (1-1) will host Friday night's matchup, the latest meeting in a series with some exciting finishes of late.
Red Bank used a 21-point fourth quarter last season to break a 7-7 tie, while the 2018 game came down to the last possession in a 20-13 win for the Lions.
"We have something to prove," said Delmontae Gustus, a junior who has four tackles for loss and a fumble return for a touchdown this season. "Signal Mountain thinks they have a chance to beat us based off how they played us the last two years. We just have to go out there and prove who has the dominant program."
The line and linebackers Alex Cagle and AD Crutcher will face a unique matchup against the Eagles' hybrid wing-T/triple-option attack led by backs Braden Casner and Andrew Eichner, who have had success this season behind their offensive line.
"Playing for Red Bank inspires me in so many ways," Gustus said. "It's a blessing to be able to represent the community and play for this program. Every night I go out there wanting to make plays for the team and to be the best I can be. I will always go to war with this group."
After the uncertainty leading up to the start of the season, Red Bank players and coaches are just grateful for each game and the chance continue to carry on the tradition that was set long before them.
"You are not promised another day at practice or another game," Brown said. "If this is all that we have left, how are you going to walk off the field? I ask our players all the time, if this is the last one you get, how are you going to be remembered? Our guys know our standard and are excited to meet that each week."