Dora’s secondary unit of senior defensive backs Devonta Gosha, Kai Thomas, JaiCorian Parker, Deionte Smith and junior Kenton Petties, together with senior linebacker DeAngelo Pendleton, have made moving the ball through the air a nightmare for their competition — holding opposing teams to 86 yards passing, while also combining for 20 interceptions.
Dora (11-1) travels to Troy on Friday to face Charles Henderson High School in a Class 4A, third-round playoff matchup. The game will be played at Troy University with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
The secondary’s ability to lockdown the competition and create havoc for offensive coordinators is a source of pride for Smith, who leads the team with six picks on the year.
“It makes us very proud when we can hold a team under 100 yards passing,” Smith said. “When we can change the direction of a game with an interception or by deflecting a pass in key moments, it’s something that we hang our hats on.”
“I feel we’ve done a great job as a secondary this year,” said Parker, who has recorded five interceptions this season. “We work together as a team to get the job done, and when one of us makes a big play, we all feel a part of it.”
The Bulldog secondary has also been on hand in clutch situations where one play can make the difference in the game. Petties provided some of those moments last week in a 41-40 overtime victory against Tallassee, intercepting a pass on a two-point conversion in the third quarter, while Smith blocked a extra point attempt late in the second quarter.
“We didn’t really know how the season and how our defense would be at the beginning of the year, considering we have a new coach and coaching staff, but it’s been a great year for us — we’re playing well together and winning,” Pendleton said, who has five interceptions on the year and made a key fourth-quarter fumble recovery last week that helped Dora take their first lead of the game.
Dora coach Johnny Wright has praised the success of his secondary, stating that the squad is an “unquestioned strength for our team.”
“We have some exceptional athletes in our secondary — they really know how to play,” Wright said. “They all love to practice and have a lot of fun competing together when they’re out there. It makes them better for it too. We’ll have a big challenge this week against Charles Henderson, as they like to throw the ball a great deal and have the numbers to prove it. But I’ll take our secondary guys against anyone — they guard the pass and tackle well.”
Dora’s defensive backs will be put to the test against the Trojans.
Charles Henderson sophomore quarterback Austin Ingram set the school record for passing yardage this season. He has completed 136-of-215 passes for 1,963 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has also thrown eight interceptions.
Friday’s matchup will be the first between Dora and Charles Henderson (9-3). Since a 1-2 start, the Trojans have won eight of their last nine games with the loss coming against 5A Eufaula.