NONLEAGUE: The Pilots apparently have shored up what used to be a weak defense. By Stephen McFadden CORRESPONDENT With a recent emphasis on defense, Banning appears to have solidified itself as a contender in the Marine League. The Pilots dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and running back Josh Limosnero rushed for 101 yards. Banning’s Michael Calloway was virtually unstoppable on punt returns, returning one for a touchdown and setting the Pilots up on Taft’s 10-yard line on another. Ferragamo credited the success on special teams to the practice time the Pilots have been dedicating to the unit every day. “Special teams are a big part of our game plan,” Ferragamo said. “It’s not something we just throw in there. It’s a big area of focus for us. We work on it every day.” Trailing, 14-7, in the second quarter, it looked as if Banning’s undefeated season was in jeopardy. Banning quarterback Anthony Rodriguez threw an interception and Taft took over on its 39-yard line, poised to stretch its lead. But the Pilots came up with a big stop on defense, forcing Taft to punt. Limosnero tied the contest moments later at 14-14 with a 2-yard touchdown run, his second of the contest. Calloway and the Pilots defense took control from there. After forcing another three-and-out series, Calloway returned the ensuing punt deep into Taft territory. Running back Joel Panteau ran for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Pilots ahead for good, 21-14. With Banning holding a 28-14 lead and stifling Taft on defense, Calloway put the game away late in the third quarter. The senior caught a punt on Banning’s 28-yard line, raced to the right sideline and ran practically untouched for a 72-yard touchdown. Limosnero, who had a relatively quiet game by his standards, was impressed with the effort of Banning’s defense. “Our defense stepped up big time,” Limosnero said. “They had some key stops. The special teams really came up big for us too.” Banning will face its toughest challenge of the season next week, when the Pilots travel to face City Section power Venice, considered one of the few teams capable of challenging City favorite Birmingham for this year’s title. “Venice is a great football team,” Ferragamo said. “It’s gonna be a dogfight.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The Pilots dominated at Taft, 35-14, Friday night in a nonleague game to improve to 4-0, thanks mostly to a stingy defense and big plays on special teams. “We are really emphasizing defense this year,” said Banning head coach Chris Ferragamo, now in his second year of his second stint with the Pilots. “Last year, defense was a big weakness for us. But this year, defense is really a sense of pride for us. We are coming along every week.” Ferragamo’s team certainly seems to be getting the message. After falling behind, 14-7, early in the second quarter, the Pilots shut down Taft (2-2) for the remainder of the game, scoring 28 unanswered points to pull away.