Athlete of the Week: Instincts help Poway High’s Michaels drop QBs
By Michael Bower
Sacks are hard to come by when you play for the Poway High football team. Beating the guy across the line and tackling the quarterback before he gets rid of the ball is only half the battle.
The other half, and often the toughest part for the defensive players on the Titans, is doing it before someone else does.
“It is not like anything else,” said Titans’ linebacker Max Michaels about the art of sacking the quarterback. “There are four or five more guys on our team trying to get there. It is like a race to see who gets there first with us. Sometimes you will almost get there and be like, ‘man.’ But it ends up making everyone better so it works out well.”
The race was certainly on in last Friday’s CIF San Diego Section Division II semifinal game against second-seeded Helix. Five different players on the relentless Poway defense combined for nine sacks, as the No. 3 Titans upset the Highlanders 21-7 to advance to Saturday’s championship game against No. 1 Oceanside.
Michaels, a 5-foot-10, 183-pound senior, had two sacks and a team-high eight tackles against Helix. The two-year starter also helped hold the Highlanders’ explosive offense to just 13 yards and zero first downs in the first half. The last time Helix was held to just seven points in a game was 2007.
For his efforts, Michaels is the Pomerado News Athlete of the Week.
“I would say he is the glue,” Poway defensive coordinator Robby Sevier said. “He kind of holds us together. He and Alec (Moreno) make all the checks for us at the line. Max always has good information about what might work and not work when he comes off the field. He is just a very instinctual player. He understands the game of football.”
The win over Helix was especially meaningful for Michaels and all of the Titans. Last season, Poway went undefeated and captured the SDS Division I title, but the rumblings about a soft schedule carried throughout the county.
The Titans wanted a shot at Helix then, but the Highlanders were in Division II. They went on to win the CIF Division II state title and were regarded as the top team in the county.
“The win definitely meant everything to us,” said Michaels, who leads the team in tackles (73) and fumble recoveries (7) and is second in sacks (8). “All of the guys from last year’s team were back from Thanksgiving break and at the game. Last year, we wanted to match up against Helix and we thought we would do well. So it was nice for the guys to come back and see us get a win against them.”
The Titans are just one win away from capturing back-to-back section championships. But in order to do so, they will have to avenge a Week 4 23-13 loss to Oceanside. A tall task for sure, but Michaels is confident the team will be ready to pull it off.
“It would definitely be the perfect ending,” he said. “Football has already made up some of my best memories from high school. I think, since my freshman year, our class has played about 46 games and won 42, lost three and tied one. We are not really use to losing.”
And that’s what makes the race to the quarterback all the more competitive.
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