FOOTBALL: Fox leading the way for revamped College Park defense

October 1, 2017 GMT

THE WOODLANDS - When Lonnie Madison took over as the head coach at College Park High School during this past offseason, it meant the Cavaliers’ defense was going to experience some changes.

Senior defensive end Austin Fox and the rest of his teammates weren’t sure what to expect, but once they began to learn the new scheme, they caught on quickly.

Through the first four games of the season, College Park has a 1-3 record, including an 0-1 mark in District 12-6A play after a 21-3 loss to Lufkin on Friday at Woodforest Bank Stadium. But improvements have been made over last season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

College Park allowed 40.3 points per game last season on its way to a 1-9 overall record. But with Madison taking over this year - bringing his strong resume as the former defensive coordinator at Klein Collins - the Cavaliers have that number down to 19.6 over the past three games.

“We’ve been tough, and everyone’s been playing really hard,” Fox said. “We’ve had a lot of mental toughness, which is a little different from the last few years. But it’s been great to see everyone just go all-out to the ball and tackling better.”

The lone outlier for College Park was the 49 points Tomball posted in the first game of the season when neither team had any tape of the other. But since that loss, the team has allowed totals of 19, 13 and 21 points to Deer Park, A&M Consolidated and a high-powered Lufkin offense, respectively.

“At first, it was a bit hard,” Fox said of adapting to the new 3-4 defensive scheme. “But it’s been more natural for us as we’ve gone on. Everyone has been figuring things out pretty easily, especially the past few weeks since we had our first game. After that, I think it’s just clicked for everyone.”

Fox, who was a second-team all-district selection last season as a junior, is leading the charge for the Cavaliers’ unit this year. Through four games, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound defensive end has a team-high 25 tackles, including 21 solo stops and four tackles for loss. He also has three sacks, four quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.

“Probably the biggest thing has been that he’s a great leader,” Madison said of Fox. “He doesn’t have any quit in him. He deep snaps for us, he basically plays every snap for us on defense, and he plays special teams. And then he still has the energy in the fourth quarter to rush the quarterback and create pressure. He hunts down guys down the line of scrimmage, he’s a great athlete and has great speed. He’s always around the ball, and he’s extremely coachable.”

Being a leader for the defense and the entire team in general has been a task Fox has taken to heart. He and the rest of the seniors want to make the most of their final season playing high school football, and keeping everyone on the same page as they navigate through district play will be key.

“We’ve got a few good leaders on the defense,” Fox said. “We’ve had guys really step up. Cooper Lucas has been on varsity for a few years, and (Haden) Stark, all three of us are basically the main leaders on the defense, and everyone’s been working really hard, so we haven’t really had to get on anyone.”