by Staff Writer
Four years ago, Yannis Togi was a rookie. Togi had never played the game. Today, Togi leads the Pirate defense in tackles and spirit. “It is hard to be the quarterback on defense. I have to communicate.”You do not need a roster with jersey numbers to discern who he is. Togi is the linebacker in the middle with 12 inches of long curly hair and a type of “mane” coming out of his helmet. Togi plays with intensity and delight. He enjoys hitting people. His enthusiasm can be seen at every Pirate kick-off as he rallies the team to play.
In 5 games, the Pirate defense has surrendered 51 points. Thirty-eight of those against Kennedy Catholic, last year’s state runner-up in 4A State. Team defense and speed have delivered two shutouts in the mix.
It is hard always to assign who gets credit for a tackle. Togi is often there first, but the Pirates play to their strength and speed to the point of attack. It is rare to see a Pirate bring down an opponent. If it is anywhere between the tackles, it is also rare not to see the flow of hair in the stack.
Togi leads the defense at work. When conditioning, Togi is often the first to the finish, even though he is not the fastest on the team. In the weight room, he is focused and driven; Togi seems to relish the hard work.
Togi’s whole career has been under Head Coach Deontae Cooper. “He gives us special treatment, not in a bad way, but we get to see what it is like to play for someone who wants us to be better, to achieve higher things in life,” said the “man with the mane.” Togi believes the success has come from hard work. Everyone has bought in.
When asked what the goal is, Togi said, “To win the last game.”