The foundation has been set.

It doesn't matter who lines up on defense for the Steers, each unit is supposed to do one thing.

“Every team is different,” defensive coordinator Clay McChristian said. “But, it's an expectation these kids know that we play great defense.”

Packing the offense with talent and lighting up the scoreboard has become the focus for many teams, but the Steers keep true to the adage that defense wins championships.

Last season, the Steers showed that defense still matters, holding  opponents to 9.7 points per game and forcing 43 turnovers en route to the state semi-finals.

But that's in the past. The 2013 defense has thrown on some mortar, laid its bricks down and handed off the trowels.

Now, the 2014 defense must start the process all over again.

The Steers will have plenty of experienced hands when it comes time to start adding a new layer to the defensive wall.

Senior defensive linemen Dustin McWhorter and Colton Langley each bring a full season's experience to the Steer's front three. Their partner-in-crime, honorable mention all-state nose guard Husky Melendez graduated.

Finding his replacement will be crucial since Graham's defense relies on a solid nose guard to lead the defensive attack. 

Junior Juan Arredondo can do it.  He's “strong as an ox” and has the potential to be better than Melendez, McChristian said.

“We strive right here to build on the guy before you and be better than what he was,” McChristian said. 

Read the full story in this weekend's Graham Leader.