By BOB CRAMER
For two years now, seniors Liam Krivanek and Judson Rowland have been the heart and soul of the defense for Mustang High School’s football team.
Krivanek plays safety, and Rowland is the middle linebacker. They are returning starters and MHS’ defensive co-captains.
First-year head coach Lee Blankenship said the pair have been integral to coaches installing their program.
“Those guys are phenomenal leaders for us,” Blankenship said. “They have been huge in buying into the program and helping our coaching staff build a strong foundation for our program.”
Krivanek and Rowland will lead the defensive effort this week as Mustang tries to win its third straight district game.
The Broncos (4-2 overall, 2-1 in district) travel to Edmond North (1-5, 0-3) to meet the Huskies at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Krivanek and Rowland lead the Broncos in tackles with 56 and 48, respectively.
Krivanek also has three interceptions (one on a two-point conversion) and a fumble recovery, while Rowland has recovered one fumble.
A year ago, despite Mustang not qualifying for the playoffs, Krivanek and Rowland finished with 126 and 116 tackles, respectively, to rank in Class 6A’s top five statistically.
Defensive coordinator Sam Dollar spoke of how essential Krivanek and Rowland are to Mustang’s 4-3, multiple defense.
“Liam is our leader in the back end,” Dollar said. “I have four guys that can cover and play in the box, which is perfect to execute what we do on defense. Those are two of the guys that can do that.”
Dollar said Rowland has been playing extremely well in recent games.
“Being multiple on defense includes asking guys to do multiple things,” Dollar said. “Judson is getting better each week, and I anticipate his improving isn’t over yet. He has played really well the last two weeks.”
Krivanek has been one of Mustang’s steadiest players and first started when he was a sophomore.
“Liam has played very well and was instrumental in our win versus Union “ Dollar said.
Last week, Mustang defeated Southmoore, 66-24, but Bronco defenders were not happy when they went to the field house ahead 35-17 at halftime.
“We didn’t play a very good first half, obviously,” Rowland said. “We made some adjustments in the locker room, more mental adjustments than anything. We just went out there and played how we had practiced all week.”
Krivanek agreed with his teammate: “Players were making mistakes. All week, we talked about playing great in the third and fourth quarter, and we were able to do that.”
Mustang’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown in the second half, but the special teams did yield a 68-yard TD return on a kickoff.
Mustang will oppose an Edmond North team that posted its only victory during Week 3, a 21-20 nail-biter over Edmond Memorial.
The past week, Moore rolled to a 49-7 victory over the Huskies.
Last year, Mustang beat Edmond North, 38-14.