Defensive line trio makes plays for Aurora Christian
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org November 22, 2012 4:24PM
Defensive linemen Josh Kok (68), Jon Czerwinski (57) and Jonah Walker (65) have been stalwarts for Aurora Christian this season. | donnell collins ~ for sun-times media
Updated: November 22, 2012 8:41PM
They may not be three of a kind in stature, but they wreak havoc on an offense in a like manner, working in tandem as the three-man line that anchors an Aurora Christian defense Don Beebe calls his best in nine years.
“One thing is, they’re big and they’re athletic,” said Beebe, before catching himself to note, “Well, the noseguard isn’t (big). But he squats 500 pounds. He’s very strong in the legs and very explosive.”
He’s speaking of junior Jon Czerwinski, who is listed at 5-foot-8 and 183 pounds on the Eagles’ roster. He’s become an outstanding contributor, involved in 56 tackles including 7.5 for loss in the 12-1 Eagles run to a second straight Class 3A playoff title game.
“I love kids like Jon who work their butts off and then, when they get a chance to start, they take the bull by the horns and run with it,” said Beebe.
Czerwinski came into the season thinking he’d back up all three starting spots on the line but he’s become entrenched, due to his strong play and Nick Larson’s knee injury.
He’s flanked by a pair of matching defensive ends in 6-4, 258 senior Josh Kok and 6-3, 230 junior Jonah Walker. Kok (pronounced Cook) has been involved in 62 tackles, has six sacks and has forced two fumbles. Walker has been in on 75 tackles, has nine sacks and has forced four fumbles in the postseason.
“Josh and Jonah just come flying,” said Beebe. “They’re just relentless. ‘Kookie’ has been going both ways and last week, Walker played at right tackle on offense and Czerwinski played left guard due to injuries we had. I couldn’t believe how well they played.”
With the injures o-linemen (Jacob Galbato and Eric Motisi) back this week, it gives him comfort knowing they’re available if needed.
“We don’t really worry about how many tackles we make because we’ve got great guys behind us,” said Kok. “If we do our job (occupying blockers or filling gaps) they’ll make plays.”
Middle linebacker Joel Bouagnon leads the team with 122 tackles and Brandon Mayes, who plays linebacker and safety, has 112.
“We definitely try to do things that help our linebackers get tackles,” said Walker. “I don’t know what Joel says to you guys, but he definitely thanks us and so does B. Mayes as well.
“I think it’s our chemistry that makes the difference. There isn’t a closer group of guys.”
Kok marvels at Czerwinski’s aggressiveness and how he gets after people.
The accompanying picture may tell the story. Check out Czerwinski (57) as Kok (68) and Walker (65) seem to be casually waiting for the Sterling Newman offense to come to the line of scrimmage for the next snap. Czerwinski, however, has hands on hips, mouth guard in place and appears ready to go.
Think he doesn’t play with a chip on his shoulder?
“I can be just as physical as the other guy,” said Czerwinski. “Obviously, most of the time the other guy will have more weight than me, just like this week. The Tolono center is 290 pounds. He’s quite a large fella and probably the biggest guy I’ve faced.
“If I were bigger, then I’d be able to take them straight on but (the size difference) means I have to rely on my technique. I’ll be slanting, cutting his legs, whatever I can to take on his weight.”
And, no doubt, prompting his coach — who knows something himself about being termed “undersized” — to repeat a phrase he first heard as a player.
“Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and they’ve done that,” said Beebe.