The phrase isn’t exclusive to the Timberline High football team anymore.
T-shirts bearing the phrase have been seen around school, and the Wolves’ student section picked up the chant during Friday’s game at Dona Larsen Park.
After Timberline’s 20-7 victory over Borah to open pod play in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference, it’s safe to say the “Dirty Wolves” defense has arrived.
And the phrase doesn’t imply the unethical, more like a willingness to get dirty on every play and sacrifice for the team, which has resulted in the first 5-0 start in program history.
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“It just means we hunt in a pack and come together as a whole,” Timberline defensive back Markus Chanthao said. “We’re trying to be animals, pretty much.”
The defense-first mindset is a benefit to the Wolves’ offense, too.
“I think our defense gives a presence to our offense,” said Timberline receiver Drake O’Neill, who finished with a team-leading 91 receiving yards and one touchdown.
“I think they push us, and they make us better every day in practice. That’s why we’re able to come out and put some points on the board. Our team is built around our defense.”
Timberline’s defense held Borah to a single possession in the first quarter, and the Wolves’ offense fed off their energy, driving 96 yards in 15 plays spanning the first and second quarters.
O’Neill, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, ended the drive by bringing down quarterback Justin Lavin’s 5-yard pass in the end zone.
The Wolves (5-0) kept the pressure on as defensive lineman Riley Knight sacked Borah quarterback Hayden Brown for a seven yard loss on third down, ending Borah’s second possession of the game in another punt.
“We’re not a fluke. People thought we had just played bad teams, but this solidifies us,” Timberline middle linebacker Shane Richardson said. “We’re a good team, and we’re a good defense.”
Lavin added his second TD pass of the game on a 33-yarder to senior receiver Terek Zimmerman with 2:10 to play before halftime.
The Lions tried to make a push for the end zone before the break, driving all the way down to the Wolves’ 14-yard line before Timberline closed the door on fourth down.
“The kids played hard. Our defense played very well,” Timberline coach Kirk Copeland said. “They really wanted to win this football game. They played with a lot of passion and emotion.”
The Wolves’ defense came up with one interception (by Chanthao) and a key fumble recovery (by Knight) with just over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The Lions only converted on one of four trips inside the red zone — one ended with a sack, one a fumble and a third on downs.
“I think (this win) is a really good morale booster,” Chanthao said. “It’s going to get everyone confident.”