GARDINER — Seth Wing and the Gardiner defense had a little chip on their shoulders and a big point to prove.

“We wanted to make sure we would be one of the best defenses in the conference,” said Wing, a senior linebacker. “I think we proved it.”

Led by Wing, the Tigers allowed just 10.5 points a game, second best in the Pine Tree Conference’s Class B division behind only Leavitt (8.3).

It is, Wing says, a “big accomplishment.”

“Gardiner is known for its tough defense,” Wing said. “Everybody knows how much pride there is in Gardiner defense.”

Wing would know.

The team’s leading tackler — he averages about eight tackles a game — is a third generation Gardiner football player.

His father, Larry, played for the Tigers and graduated in 1980. Larry Wing was a defensive back on the 1979 team that won the Class B state championship.

Seth Wing’s grandfather, Ken Wing, also played at Gardiner. Ken Wing played for the Tigers in the early 1940s. He played for coach Danny Alvino on the 1940 team that finished undefeated. The Tigers allowed just one touchdown in 10 games that year.

“I didn’t even know about that until about a couple years ago,” Seth Wing said. “I was looking in a book and saw my grandfather. It’s pretty cool.”

Like his father and grandfather before him, Wing knows the importance of playing defense for the Tigers. It’s what made this season — which continues Friday in a PTC B quarterfinal game against Brewer (5-3) — all the more pleasing. The No. 4 Tigers (5-3) have held opponents to eight or fewer points in four of eight games.

“Defense is always a big deal in Gardiner,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “Good defenses can make a statement. We don’t have a lot of statistics — we don’t have a bunch of turnovers, for example. But we’re holding people off the scoreboard.”

And Wing is a big reason why. The leader of the defense, Wing calls the plays and is piling up the tackles, something he did last season as well.

“Coach always tell me to read the guards,” Wing said. “They just take me to the play. I love getting three and outs on defense. I feel like I’ve stepped up.”

The Tigers run a 3-4 defense, although not quite in the traditional sense. Wing and Brad Weston are the inside linebackers. The cornerbacks, Frank Chepke and Steve Sirois, play more along the line of scrimmage, leaving just the safeties in the secondary.

It’s a defense, Burgess says, that’s evolved since he became coach prior to last season.

“The kids have really embraced what we’re doing,” Burgess said. “Our defensive line grew up a ton. We lost of guys up front, like (Eddie) Donnell. A year ago, we had to teach the kids how to play the defense we wanted. I had to re-learn it and then teach it.

“Now, in the second year, the scheme is a little different. The kids are a lot more used to it. Seth is now a second-year linebacker, and he gets it really well.”

Added Dennis Meehan, a senior quarterback/defensive back: “We’ve put it all together. We have a lot of good athletes on defense. I think Seth is one of the best linebackers in the state. He just plays with emotion. We just wanted to prove that we can still play defense in Gardiner.”

The Tigers welcome the Witches to Hoch Field on Friday. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season. Brewer averaged 28.3 points a game, good for third in the PTC B. The Witches scored at least 30 points in half their games.

The Tigers say their defense will be ready.

“We’ve been doing a good job,” Burgess said. “The kids are comfortable in their roles. We’re getting production from a lot of different players.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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