Livin' on the edge -- and how Ted Stote turned his defence into a powerhouse
Cougars’ defence was livin’ on the edge in 2019.
When you ask nine- and 10-year-olds to play football it’s often a miracle that you can even get them to line up correctly – but in 2019, the Mosquito AAA Lakeshore Cougars defence was asked to do a lot more than just line up correctly – they were asked to line up many different ways, over and over, to great benefit, and they did so by playing without ego or selfishness, coordinator Ted Stote said.
Stote, who doubles as the Lakeshore Football Association president, dramatically shifted his defensive personnel and alignment right before the playoffs and had to hope the players could handle the new tasks and alignment while playing with their usual attacking style.
Stote’s faith in his defence was handsomely rewarded when they locked down both offences they faced in the playoffs, shutting out both their semifinal opponents (Pointe St. Charles Aces) and their LFMM President’s Cup final opponents (Sud-Ouest Wildcats).
In fact, the 45-0 aggregate score in the playoffs capped off a season in which the Cougars gave up a paltry 90 points total over their 12 league games, helping the team to a 10-0 regular season and 2-0 playoff run. Even those 90 points don’t tell the whole story. In the regular-season finale against the Laval Dragons and missing several key players on defence, the Cougars gave up 30 points. Take away that one anomalous performance and you have a team that gave up about five points per game.
Hard to lose games when you give up less than one touchdown a game, no?
After the Laval game, Stote rejiggered his defence, adding emphasis and personnel to the edge of the line of scrimmage, thereby rendering the outside unattainable for opposing offences. Shifting rookie inside linebacker Justin Lavigne outside, and moving other players such as Liam Cook, Jeremy St-Vil and Jackson Stote to different spots and watching rookies Jake Rokas and Ethan Feldmann turn into seasoned veterans right before his eyes, Stote was the architect of a ballet of attacking aggressiveness.
“It’s a testament to what happens when you put the team first and play without ego and work hard learning and getting better,” Stote said.
Middle linebacker Niron Sexton, halfback Matt Cooper, defensive linemen Roman Cordoba and Justin ‘Jumbotron’ Verrault, and cornerback Nathan Piotrowski were also important pieces to a defence designed to send opposing offences backwards.
“We tried to attack offences, to put them on their heels. We wanted to play fast and when we did, we were very, very effective as a defence," he said.
It marked the second consecutive undefeated season for Stote as defensive coordinator for the Cougars, led by head coach Glen Cooper. Stote’s got his eye on even more success for his group of players at the next level.
“There’s no reason these kids can’t be just as good at the peewee level,” he said. “But only time will tell.”