The Clovis Wildcats’ defensive secondary goes after interceptions like dogs after tablescraps.
Senior cornerback Jaden Isler has been the big dog for the Wildcats, who have pilfered 12 passes in five games. With two picks last week at Rio Rancho, Isler set the school’s single-season record with seven.
Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said interceptions have become a source of bragging rights for the secondary, which also includes cornerbacks Derrick Phillips and Scott McMath and safeties Stefan Mills, Cerron Bailey and Diondre Hunter.
Phillips, who alternates by quarter at running back and cornerback with McMath, is second on the team with two interceptions.
“They’re competing for the ball,” Kelley said. “When they get to the sideline, they’re talking about it.”
The Wildcats (3-2) have allowed three touchdown passes heading into tonight’s game against Goddard (4-1).
Mills was getting razzed Wednesday after dropping a sure interception late in the game last week, only to have Isler pick off a pass on the next play. It is the second time that has happened this season.
“I keep joking with (Isler) that he has to take Stefan out to dinner,” Kelley said. Isler hasn’t anted-up — yet.
Isler said he’s a little surprised teams keep throwing his way.
“They haven’t had a lot of success (on my side),” he said, “but we’ve faced some young quarterbacks and maybe they just don’t realize where they’re throwing it.
“Plus, we’ve been ahead in a few games and teams have been forced to throw the ball.”
Isler moved from free safety to cornerback this season, a more natural position for him, Kelley said.
“Jaden does a good job of staying deep and breaking on the ball,” Kelley said. “He’s also doing a good job of going up and getting the ball.”
An all-district point guard in basketball, Isler is used to going after the ball in traffic.
“I’m short, but I’m used to going up and getting rebounds,” said Isler, who is tied for third in the country in interceptions, according to maxpreps.com. “I think that helps a little.”
Bailey, Isler and Phillips are returning starters from last year, while Hunter played in his first game last week since his sophomore season.
“We’ve done a good job of not giving up the big play,” Kelley said. “That’s something that hurt us last year.”
J.C. Pacheco held the previous record for single-season interceptions with six in 2001. Defensive statistics weren’t kept until 1978.