COUGARS FOOTBALL: Cougars’ defense has been getting better … Hawks, Titans, Tigers among Mountain Pass elites … ‘Yes,’ says Steinberg on Dillard starting at quarterback … Citrus Hill’s running, Tahquitz’s passing should pose problems.

Maybe the best defensive play-calling showed up in the second half of the Cougars’ 28-20 War of the Wheel rivalry win at Banning High School on Sept. 14.

“I think a lot of times,” said Cougars’ coach Jeff Steinberg, “we over-analyze … sometimes, the best adjustments we can make is to make no adjustments.”

Beaumont, which opened with a Week Zero game in Palm Desert, had a bye last week.

Perhaps its most entertaining game was the small road trip to take on the Broncos. All it took to shut down Banning in the second half was a goal line stand, capped by DT Logan Perez’s tackle of Taron Madison on 4th-and-goal. That started the comeback.

Counting that half, Beaumont has 3 ½ shutouts this season, counting a 46-0 win over Lake Elsinore Lakeside, 35-0 over Inglewood Morningside and a 43-0 win over Perris — combined records, 3-12.

Beaumont’s first-year defensive coordinator Derrick Dial, a one time high school quarterback at Redlands High, served as that school’s interim head coach in 2017. Upon not being hired as Terriers’ permanent head coach, Steinberg brought Dial to Beaumont.

“He comes up with the defensive practice plan,” said Steinberg, “and I set for the offense. We talk a little bit, but he’s running the defense.

“He’s very good at finding out what other teams do well,” said Steinberg, “and limiting that. Derrick tries to take their playmakers out of the game.”

Granted, the three teams that have been shutout have losing records.

Said Steinberg: “In games like that, it takes a lot to maintain a shutout. You’re changing a lot of personnel. It’s tough to keep the same game plan flowing.”

Despite surrendering 127 yards, Beaumont kept Banning out of the end zone in that Sept. 14 second half.

Not lost, perhaps, was the relief quarterback job of junior Eddie McCulloch, whose inspiring play has underscored the Cougars’ 4-1 record. In less than five full games, McCulloch has passed for nearly 1,100 yards.

Steinberg knows quarterbacks, though, and he’s not looking past Devin Dillard, who was injured in a Week Zero loss to Palm Desert. The veteran coach believes fans have yet to see Dillard’s best on-field work.

“Yes,” was his one-word response this past Monday on whether or not Dillard would be his starting quarterback.

Beaumont, however, would be lost without its defense.

Kamari Ross’ interception return for a touchdown, Perez’s goal-line play, plus a variety of stops from Josh Dominguez, Peter Lewis, Billye Johnson and Elijah East led to the come-from-behind win. Banning led at halftime, 20-0.

“We didn’t change anything,” said Steinberg, “except attitude. It was an attitude change. That’s all it was. Banning was making plays we weren’t making. We didn’t need to change anything we were doing.

“Our game plan was set.”

MOUNTAIN PASS LEAGUE NOTES

There are a trio of teams at 5-0, counting Perris Citrus Hill, San Jacinto and Hemet Tahquitz … Beaumont is one late touchdown pass (against No. 1-ranked Palm Desert) from being 4-0-1 … In Hemet’s 3-2 record, the Bulldogs’ lone blemishes have come against No. 1-ranked Indio Shadow Hills (5-0) and Temecula Chaparral (5-0) … It should be no surprise that stopping Citrus Hill’s vaunted running game is key to beating the Hawks. They’ve scored 23 rushing touchdowns, averaged 7 yards a carry and have 5 legitimate backfield threats that can break off a long run … Tahquitz is the big surprise, however, the Titans’ quarterback, Robert Young throwing 14 touchdown passes with no interceptions … Out of wide receiver Antoine Sullivan’s 19 receptions, 8 have gone for touchdowns.

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