Hockomock Football: Players to Watch on Defense

Franklin football Evan Wertz
Evan Wertz (25) celebrates a fumble on Milford’s opening possession of the game in 2018. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Player are listed alphabetically

Sam Callanan, Senior – King Philip

King Philip senior Sam Callanan could be poised for a breakout season as a vital piece of the Warriors’ defense. The bar has been set for the three-time defending South Sectional champs but King Philip did graduate a good amount of its top players from last year’s defensive unit. Callanan will bring experience to the King Philip defensive group and, as a captain, will be relied upon for his leadership both on and off the field. Last year, Callanan had a lot of success coming off the edge, using his speed to get past the offensive line and be disruptive in the backfield. He does a nice job of reading the play and using his speed to track down the play. He’s a versatile player that does a nice job in coverage as well, giving the Warriors some flexibility on defense.

Woudanly Danger, Senior – Taunton

Taunton senior defensive lineman Woudanly Danger lives up to his name, giving the Tigers a force at the line of scrimmage that opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers need to watch out for on every play. Danger had 30 tackles and three sacks from his tackle position, despite regularly facing double teams and blocking schemes designed to try and contain him. He also had 9-1/2 tackles for loss, helping the Tigers finish 2018 with a winning record and build momentum for a run at a playoff spot this fall. Strong and quick, Danger brings his wrestling background to the gridiron, finding ways to gain leverage, clog holes, and get into the backfield. With Danger back in the middle of the line, Taunton’s defense has a solid foundation and could be the strength of the team this season.

Kyle Fitzgerald, Senior – Canton

Canton senior Kyle Fitzgerald could easily have been on the Players to Watch list for offense as well because the running back and defensive back had a breakout season on both sides of the ball to help the Bulldogs secure a share of the league title for the first time in nearly three decades. Fitzgerald’s speed and his versatility made him a weapon on offense (16 touchdowns), but also made him a tenacious member of the Canton secondary. He recorded 41 tackles, had two interceptions, and recovered a pair of fumbles. A ballhawk, who gives the Bulldogs a solid cover guy on the corner but who can also step up and stop the run, Fitzgerald will be a key to Canton’s defense this season and one of the reasons that the Bulldogs have confidence that they can win back-to-back titles for the first time since winning a fifth straight in 1981.

Anton George, Senior – Foxboro

Foxboro’s Anton George seemed to play better and better throughout the 2018 campaign and will be looking to carry that into 2019 for the Warriors. A HockomockSports.com Hock 5 selection for defensive line, George is a disrupter and we mean that in a good way. He had 62 tackles last season, including five sacks and 11 quarterback hurries — simply put, he was a handful to deal with. He forced a pair of fumbles and deflected a pair of passes as well. A captain this year, George will be looking to anchor Foxboro back to the playoffs. The combination of speed and size helps set him apart from others and makes him a tough matchup for opposing tackles.

Christian Georges, Junior – Stoughton

The term playmaker is often used when talking about players on the offensive side of the ball, but Stoughton junior Christian Georges does it on the defensive end. Georges made a big splash as a sophomore, playing mostly as a defensive end but also a little time at outside linebacker. He has the strength to power his way past opponents but is also a very quick player and can use his speed to get around. That combination made him a tough match-up last season as he recorded 58 tackles (including 20 for a loss), six sacks, eight pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. He will likely line up at linebacker this season so the Black Knights will rely on him heavily to continue to make plays. He does a great job of tracking the play and then coming up to make the play. Stoughton is typically known for its defense and Georges could be one of the top players in that group.




TJ Guy, Junior- Mansfield

Mansfield junior lineman TJ Guy, the 2018 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, returns on the edge of the Hornets defensive line after a dominant first season on varsity. Guy, who was also in the running for Underclassman of the Year in basketball, had 30 tackles, including 10 solo stops, and was second on the team with seven tackles for loss. His quickness and athleticism at defensive end allowed him to set the edge, take up blockers, and open spaces for Mansfield’s talented linebacking corps. He was also part of an offensive line that opened up holes for the Mansfield ground game, which amassed more than 2,600 yards last season. With expectations sky-high at Alumni Field this fall, Guy is one of the main reasons that this Hornets defensive unit is drawing rave reviews.

Vinnie Holmes, Senior – Mansfield

One of the premier linebackers in the state, Mansfield senior Vinnie Holmes will close out his record-breaking career with the Hornets as one of the leading candidates for MVP in the Kelley-Rex division this season. Holmes has already eclipsed the 200-tackle mark for his two-year varsity career, was named the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, and has developed into a sideline-to-sideline presence for the Hornets defense. He is one of those players who seems to be in the middle of every play, no matter where on the field it ends up. Holmes had 92 tackles as a junior, including 41 solo, and led Mansfield with 10 tackles for loss. He added three sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries, not to mention eight touchdowns as a running back. Opposing offenses know that they have to account for Holmes, one of the top defensive playmakers in the league, on every single play, and his tenacity drives one of the league’s most complete defensive units.

Luke Rosa, Senior – Milford

If you go to a Milford football game this year, one name you’re probably going to hear a lot from the announcer is Luke Rosa. A two-way starter, Rosa was one of the Hawks’ top players last season and earned captain this year. On the defensive side, Rosa lines up at linebacker and is at his best when he’s attacking the ball carrier. He reads the offense really well and does a nice job of finding the gap and is among the top tacklers in the league. Even if it looks like there’s someone to block for the back, Rosa has shown the ability to fight through the first line and get to either the back or quarterback. Offensively, he’s one of the more versatile backs in the league and does everything well. He has great vision with the ball in his hands and can also sneak out and catch a pass in the screen game. Look for Rosa to have a big year on both sides of the ball this year.

Michael Strachan, Junior – Attleboro

Attleboro junior linebacker Michael Strachan is the rare football player who has been on varsity since his freshman season. He enters his second year as a starter in the Bombardiers defense as a highly-recruited prospect and as the team’s leading tackler from 2018. Strachan led Attleboro with more than 80 stops last season and is poised for an even bigger year in the middle of an experienced corps of linebackers. He is also a dangerous weapon at tight end for the Attleboro offense, taking advantage of his size and athleticism to create matchup challenges for opponents. The Bombardiers didn’t finish 2018 the way that they would have hoped, but with Strachan back in the middle behind a big defensive line, Attleboro will be hoping to replicate the 4-1 start they had last year and the meager five points per game that they allowed during that dominant stretch.

Evan Wertz, Senior – Franklin

Franklin senior linebacker Evan Wertz has been a dominant presence in the heart of the Panthers defense, having already set program records by racking up huge tackle totals every week. Wertz had 122 tackles in 11 games last season (a remarkable 11 per game), including 45 solo stops and 10 tackles for loss. He can also drop into coverage, recording three pass breakups and an interception. Just like Mansfield’s Vinnie Holmes, wherever the ball goes Wertz is there, ranging from sideline to sideline and covering as much ground as any linebacker in the Hock. The Panthers nearly stunned powerhouse Xaverian in the playoffs last season and that has ramped up the momentum and expectations coming into this year. With Wertz leading the defense, Franklin will hope that they can push for the Kelley-Rex title and another long tournament run.

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