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West Ranch football camp: Key to continunity

Safety Jared Monroe in charge of an inexperienced defense

Posted: August 23, 2014 10:00 p.m.
Updated: August 23, 2014 10:00 p.m.

West Ranch safety Jared Monroe, left, and outside linebacker Connor Morgan follow a running play during a scrimmage against Buena at West Ranch High School on Friday.

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The West Ranch football team lost a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball.

Each level had significant losses.

On the defensive line, Alex Rassool and his 18.5 sacks is gone.

Trevor Aleshire, who had 69 tackles and seven sacks, leaves a big hole at the outside linebacker position.

It’s in the secondary where the Wildcats will be bringing back the only defensive returner.

Senior Jared Monroe, who as a cornerback last season had 22 tackles and three interceptions, is back patrolling the secondary.

This offseason he made the switch to safety in order to take advantage of his experience.

“Jared knows the defense and it’s easier for him to call things from back there,” said Wildcats head coach Jan Miller. “He understands the coverages and knows when to switch to something else when the offense lines up differently. He’s been with us for four years so he’s very comfortable in the defense.”

While Monroe says he’s more comfortable at the cornerback position, he’s taken his new role head on.

As the lone returner he has to help coach up the young cornerbacks as well as get the secondary in the right position pre-snap.

“We have calls that go into the linebackers and then we have separate calls that I get. So I have to make sure everyone is lined up correctly and make changes depending on what I see the offense doing,” said Monroe. “It’s a little stressful, but I like it.”

Monroe said the hardest part in his transition from corner to safety is getting used to not having the sideline at his back and having to keep an eye on multiple receivers rather than just one.

“You’re also the last guy so if you don’t break down and make a good open field tackle, that guy is in the end zone,” he said.

Accompanying Monroe in the secondary is senior Zachary Heinz.

Heinz, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound playmaker, is the Wildcats’ go-to receiver but will also start as the free safety.

“He’s dangerous back there,” Miller said. “He’s got great hands, as a receiver he understands routes, and there’s been a few times already where he makes a good read and gets a pick he understands how the offense works.”

At the cornerback position, junior Alek Kehoe has made an impression on Miller with his ability to maintain tight coverage in man and zone defenses.

The Wildcats will use a rotation of junior and senior defensive backs to lock down the corners, and Monroe has embraced the challenge of getting them ready for game day.

“I just tell them that mistakes happen,” he said. “Everyone makes mistakes but just make sure they aren’t happening every play. If they can do that then they’ll be fine.”

With so much inexperience lining up on the defensive side of the ball, having a player like Monroe becomes extremely valuable for a coach.

“It’s kind of like having another coach on the field,” Miller said. “We have some young cornerbacks, so Jared is able to point things out to them on the field that normally us coaches would do. It’s definitely good having him back there.”


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