PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

October 10, 2012

Memorial's Walter Oliver plugs middle of defense

PORT ARTHUR — Playing nose tackle is a thankless task, but Port Arthur Memorial senior Walter Oliver does it with gusto.

Take a play against Houston Memorial last year in the playoffs for example. Both head coach Kenny Harrison and Oliver pointed to this as the highlight of his Titan career.

“You just have to be a man,” Oliver said. “It’s a man’s position, because there’s a lot of contact. I just destroyed that lineman, but Houston Memorial had a very good offensive line. Darius had broken his leg, so I thought I had to step up after he went down. So, I just destroyed them. It was all game, but one play I just flat-out pancaked him and Matthew (Romar) made the play.”

Talking with Oliver about the defense, you get the sense that his selfless play is a result of his overall attitude. Lemora’s injury against Houston Memorial may have spurred his domination of that guard, but that’s also the attitude he takes with him into every game, taking care of business.

“It’s not personal, it’s just doing your job,” Oliver said. “Matthew and I will hold up in the middle. The twins (Melbrodrick and Meldric Matthews) have outside contain. We just love playing football and doing our jobs. I was very upset that Darius went down, but we just said that we have to step up and do our jobs.”

Oliver has been very productive this season, even if all his contributions don’t show up on the stat sheet. The 6-foot, 260 pound senior has 19 tackles and two sacks this season.

“He’s definitely an unselfish kid,” Harrison said. “He works extremely hard and understands his role is to take on double teams and keep blockers off our linebackers. He’s done a tremendous job of being an overall team player. He’s a team captain and he has been one all season. He’s embraced that and comes out to work hard day in and day out.”

Though Oliver has always had a knack for making big plays when the Titans need them, he’s seen a few less double teams this year with Matthew Romar moving inside to defensive tackle.

“Matthew gained a little weight and moved inside, which helps me,” Oliver said. “I know he’s not going to let anyone get past him on his side and I’m not going to let people get past him on his side. I’ve been seeing less double teams, because they’ve been doubling  him, so I just step up and make the play.”

Harrison echoed the point, saying that the two tackles complement each other nicely on the field.

“I think they feed off each other,” Harrison said. “They push each other on a daily basis. They understand that when they both are on and going full speed, we have a chance to be very good on defense.”

The two are linked not only in the defensive line, but also in the offensive backfield in the Titans’ goal line formation. When Memorial needs tough yardage, they bring in Romar as the tailback with Oliver as a fullback.

That led to Oliver scoring a touchdown last week against Channelview on a 1-yard run, which Harrison credited to his overall athleticism.

“All I feel is that I have to do whatever it takes to help the team,” Oliver said. “When they gave me that fullback dive, all I was thinking was I had to punch it in. It felt great scoring my first touchdown. When I got the ball (on the first run), they hit me right away. So, I told them to run it again and I’m going to punch it in for sure.”

One of the biggest changes for Oliver from last year to this one was his body.

“Last year, I was a little bigger and had a lot of gut,” Oliver said. “This year, I didn’t miss a summer workout and I lost some of that gut. My goal was to lose a little weight to slim down and get a little faster. I gained a lot of strength, so when I go against guys now, it ain’t nothing. I just get past them.”

That hard work has payed off handsomely, as Oliver is one of the anchors of a very stout Titans defense. Memorial is allowing just 230 yards per game this season, which makes the Titans’ the top defense in 21-5A.

Last year, Oliver was part of a defense that had four very talented senior linebackers leading the way. This year, he’s leaning on their example to provide some senior leadership up front.

“He understands that the strength of our defense was going to be our defensive line,” Harrison said. “Our linebackers were all new and young, so he knew that a lot of responsibility would fall on him, as far as our success goes.

“His knowledge of the game is a lot better. Last year, he was young and inexperienced. You could tell that at times. This year, he’s come into his own. He’s done a tremendous job controlling the line of scrimmage. Right now, we’re pleased with how our defense has progressed and how he’s been able to dominate the line of scrimmage and lead our defense.”

Oliver is also starting to draw some interest from colleges. Last weekend, he visited Louisiana-Lafayette along with some of his teammates for the school’s homecoming. Harrison thinks that Oliver, along with some other Titan seniors, will benefit from another long playoff run in getting more looks from colleges.

“I visited a college last weekend,” Oliver said. “They were interested in me, Darius (Lemora), James Jenkins, Jalen Barnes and John Leday. We went up there for their homecoming and that was a great visit. They’ve got a good college, so that’s where my interest is now.”

TITAN TIDBITS: The son of Constance and Dallas Oliver, Walter said he’s interested in majoring in criminal justice in college with an eye towards becoming a police officer after he graduates. … Fans going to this week’s game at Galena Park North Shore are being asked to wear red for a Red-Out. … This year’s matchup with North Shore will be the fifth between the two schools. Neither team has won two games in a row in the series, with the Mustangs taking the first and third matchups while Memorial won the second and fourth. The Titans are 1-1 in games at North Shore’s home stadium. … Last week, Noah Cano of Deer Park had his rushing touchdown total mis-reported at 20 for the season. Cano actually has nine, meaning Memorial quarterback Ricky Fisk leads the district with 12 rushing TDs this season.  Fisk needs 13 more rushing TDs this season to match Jamaal Charles’ school record of 25 set in 2004. Charles and Terrence Singleton are tied for second place with 22. … Titan quarterbacks went 11 for 13 last week against Channelview. The last time the Titans had two or less incompletions in a game was 2011 against Beaumont Ozen, when Memorial was 14 for 16. That was just the fourth time in school history the team had two or fewer incompletions. The other two time were in 2003 under Dean Colbert, when the team was 3 of 4 passing against Pearland and 2010 against Baytown Sterling when the Titans were 10 for 11 passing.

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