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INDOOR FOOTBALL: Pittman is Axemen's defensive anchor

Bemidji’s Torlan Pittman, right, wrangles up Green Bay running back Lucien Walker during a recent game at the Sanford Center. The Axemen fell to the Tri-Cities Fever 51-50 Saturday night. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Whether it is indoor football, high school football, or college football, every defense needs an anchor. For the Bemidji Axemen, that anchor is 6-0, 280-pounder Torlan Pittman.

Pittman plays nose guard for the Axemen and has made 16 tackles — seven for a loss, with one sack — in nine games this season.

“Torlan has been a force at nose guard for us this year,” head coach Robert Fuller said. “He has been the anchor with our defense. He’s a defensive lineman that can actually play four quarters of football.”

“I play in the middle of the defense,” Pittman said of his role with the team. “It’s a little hard to get pressure, but when you can get pressure from the inside it really helps open things up for the ends.”

Pittman has anchored a Bemidji defense that ranks in the middle of the IFL in most categories and has forced 13 turnovers and scored three touchdowns.

“The defense, overall, has done a good job,” Fuller said. “They’re getting better as the year has gone on, too. If we can eliminate the mental lapse here and there, we have a chance to play at a very high level.”

The defense’s best game came on April 11 when it allowed only 14 points to Wyoming, but has surrendered over 60 points in two of the three games since.

“We’ve been up and down,” Pittman said of the defensive unit. “Some games we play well and others we have struggled. We have to work on being more consistent.”

Both Fuller and Pittman agreed that defensive players cannot use the excuse of “it is an offensive league” for a poor performance or poor play on defense.

“You don’t really have to motivate defensive players any different than offensive players,” Fuller said. “They are smart enough to realize that if they are not making plays, then they are not moving on. That is plenty of motivation in itself.”

Prior to this season in Bemidji, Pittman anchored the defensive line at Southern Methodist University (SMU,) where he totalled 71 tackles in his final two seasons.

The opportunity for Pittman to stay in Texas and experience life in the big city while playing football and getting an education was a no-brainer.

“It was my only Division I offer, so it was an easy choice,” Pittman said of his time at SMU. “I wanted to stay in Texas and I loved it there.”