Hockomock Football: Players to Watch on Defense

Hockomock Football Players to Watch on Defense
North Attleboro’s Thomas Reynolds (#54) is a player to watch in the upcoming season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Hockomock Football Players to Watch on Defense

Paul Darcy, Senior – Foxboro

Foxboro graduated some key pieces on defense but the Warriors will be relying on experience in both the linebacking and defensive backs corps. Paul Darcy is one of the more experienced defensive backs for Foxboro and will be an important leader for the Warriors’ defense. The Davenport Division got even more competitive with the addition of North Attleboro, putting all three of the 2015 Hockomock champions in one division. Darcy will provide stability on defense, making plays in the passing game and also playing a role helping against the run on the outside. The Warriors should be in the race for the division title and Darcy’s leadership in the secondary will be a big reason why.

Xavier Hackett, Senior – Sharon

Whether he lines up at outside linebacker or drops deeper to play as a safety, Hackett is a playmaker for the Sharon defense. He can quickly read a play and see where it is headed, but has the speed and quickness to hang back for an extra beat before closing on a ball carrier. Hackett can also provide the Eagles with an edge rusher when they choose to blitz and on the next play drop deep into coverage down field. Hackett’s versatility meshes well with the Sharon lineup that includes a number of players who can switch between positions in the back seven. Hackett also adds his speed on special teams and lined up in the backfield on offense.

Blake Hill, Senior – Milford

 

The Yale-commit could have been on the offense or defense list, as Hill has been a star for the Hawks on both sides of the ball. He caught 15 touchdown passes last season, lining up in the backfield, on the edge of the line, or split out wide, and was also team’s leading tackler as an imposing middle linebacker. Hill has the size and strength to bully his way past a blocker and the speed to be a menace as an end-rusher. He pursues the ball well and was in the middle of seemingly every defensive play for the Hawks. In addition, the speed he shows on the offensive side of the ball helps him cover running backs and tight ends downfield. Hill is the rare player that teams have to game plan for on both sides of the ball.

Jake Lyons, Senior – Franklin

A lot of safeties at the high school level are one dimensional but Lyons has shown he can help defenses in a variety of ways. He has impressed in pass coverage with his ability to read the play as it’s happening and make a play on either the ball or the receiver after the catch. If it’s a run play, he’s quick to react and attack the ball carrier, typically making a play. In one on one situations, Lyons is patient and doesn’t over pursue, and sizes up the play he needs to make. On passing plays, he can quickly read it and either knock the ball down or come away with an interception. Lyons should be a vital part of Franklin’s defense as they work towards getting back to the playoffs.

Bobby Mylod, Senior – North Attleboro

North Attleboro’s defense was its primary weapon in clinching the Kelley-Rex title last season and Mylod was integral to the Rocketeers’ ability to stop other teams. Mylod is a speedy linebacker who was one of the team’s leaders in tackles. He can play close to the line of scrimmage to get involved in stopping the run and can also be effective in the pass rush either on the end of the line or up the middle on a stunt. He does not have the size of a player such as Milford’s Blake Hill, but he is strong enough to shed blockers and make the play. Mylod’s athleticism gives him the versatility to drop back into coverage when needed and he can keep up with running backs and even slot receivers. His performances last season have led to Mylod being touted as a potential all-state selection this year.

Alex Olsen, Senior – King Philip

Whether he’s leading the way as the fullback on offense, or he’s coming at you on defense, you don’t want to be in Alex Olsen’s way. Olsen is a strong, quick linebacker that can do a lot of things for the Warriors. Whether it’s coming on a blitz, coming up to stop a run, or dropping off into pass coverage, Olsen is a reliable option. He can read the play well and attack the ball carrier. Olsen has the speed to get around the edge and the strength to make the tackle. If the play is coming up the middle, Olsen is no stranger to big hits and can make a play there too. He’s solid in pass coverage and quick to make a play if the pass is completed.

Alec Ragusa, Junior – Canton

Canton middle linebacker Alec Ragusa is going to have a lot more responsibility in 2016 with some key pieces departed from the Bulldogs’ defense but don’t expect his production to change much. Ragusa hasn’t seen a ball carrier that he isn’t willing to chase down, no matter where on the field, and make a play. Even when someone is attempting to block Ragusa, he somehow manages to push his way towards the ball carrier and influence the play. When he does get his hands on an opponent, it’s not likely that they’ll be able to free themselves. As just a sophomore, Ragusa had some pretty big hits so with another year of growing and lifting, Ragusa could be one of the toughest players to get through.

Thomas Reynolds, Senior – North Attleboro

Another member of North Attleboro’s vaunted defense, Reynolds gives the Rocketeers a presence on the defensive line to bottle up opposing running games and take on blockers to allow lanes for linebackers such as Bobby Mylod to make plays. Reynolds was also able to get into the backfield from his interior line position, shedding blockers to get to the ball carrier or to the quarterback. He has quick feet and gets off the ball well, while having the size and strength to bully his way past the opposition line of scrimmage. A lot of attention is rightly paid to North’s linebackers and secondary but the line led by Reynolds and Thomas Kummer regularly won the battle at the line of scrimmage and gave the defense a foundation on which to make plays.

Travis Sjoberg, Senior – Mansfield

Coming off a season in which he recorded more than 80 tackles, Sjoberg is the lynchpin of an experienced front seven for the Hornets that has Mansfield fans hoping for a quick turnaround from a 5-6 season and a challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown. Sjoberg is an aggressive linebacker who closes quickly and is relentless in pursuit of the ball. He is always around the line of scrimmage making plays and will be one of the vocal leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Behind Mansfield’s big defensive line, Sjoberg and the linebackers will have room to make plays and he has the potential to reach the 100-tackle plateau this season.

Izon Swain-Price, Senior – Stoughton

Teams are going to have a hard time throwing the ball against the Black Knights this season with Swain-Price in coverage against the top receiver. Swain-Price has the size and athleticism to match up with just about any receiver in the league and the closing speed to make plays on the ball even when it seems that he has been beaten on a route. There are plenty of times when quarterbacks think they have a sure completion on a throw to the sidelines only to see Swain-Price swoop in and get a piece of it. As a receiver on offense, he also has the hands to make plays in the secondary and then turn it into points on the other end. Between Swain-Price at the edge and Ryan Sullivan at safety, speed will not be an issue for the Black Knights defense.

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Ryan Lanigan

Ryan Lanigan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HockomockSports.com. You can contact him at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and follow him on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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