The 2014 football season is just around the corner and as part of our preview, we have compiled 10 of the best defensive players in the Hockomock League that people should keep their eyes on. The players are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Colton Cardinal, Franklin – Senior Linebacker
Colton Cardinal is one of the best middle linebackers against the run in the entire league. Cardinal does a very good job of reading the play and then attacking. When you think of a “tackle machine,” Cardinal is the type of player that comes to mind after leading the Panthers in that category the past two season. He has great closing speed if the quarterback or running back bounces outside and is a sound tackler, part of the reason he has received a D1 offer from Central Connecticut.
Steven Harrison, Taunton – Senior Safety/OLB
There aren’t many people who make such a big as big of an impact on both sides of the ball as Steven Harrison. To be clear: Harrison is a legitimate candidate for HockomockSports.com Football Player of the Year. Harrison has been making plays for the Tigers on the defensive side of the ball the past two seasons and his senior year shouldn’t be any different. No matter where Harrison lines up on defense he has the ability to read the play well. He’s quick to react to whatever the play is but especially against the run. He is quick to get to the ball carrier and is a solid tackler.
Brendan Hill, Mansfield – Senior Defensive End
If you look strictly at tackles last season, Brendan Hill’s 12 total tackles don’t exactly pop. But when you look a little deeper and realize he had a team-high 7.5 sacks (for a loss of 42 yards) and three forced fumbles, its apparent just how dangerous Hill is on the line. It’s rare that Hill receives a single block and there’s a good reason for that. He’s fast, strong, and has great instincts when it comes to getting after the ball.
Adrian Lingo, Sharon – Senior Linebacker
Lingo has developed into a true leader for the Eagles and has emerged as one of the top linebackers in the league. He’s patient and doesn’t overreact as soon as a play starts, but rather he reads it and then attacks. He does a good job tracking the ball carrier and is a strong tackler. It’s not exactly defense but Lingo is arguably the top kicker and punter in the league. His ability to help out in the kicking game gives Sharon an advantage that not every team has.
Joe Moreshead & Q’Ra Guichard, Mansfield – Senior Linebackers
It wouldn’t be fair to just pick one of these two players as out as they are both tackling machines. Guichard had a team-high 65 total tackles last season and Moreshead was third for the Hornets with 59 tackles, which combined was nearly 20% of Mansfield’s total tackles last year. Guichard is a strong, physical linebacker that is very hard to get through. Moreshead comes in from the edge and can track down the ball carrier or quarterback with his speed, which is the reason he had seven tackles for a loss last year and a sack.
Kyle Murphy, Attleboro – Junior Defensive End
Only one junior made the defensive players to watch list and not surprisingly it was Attleboro’s Kyle Murphy. Murphy had a very strong season last year as a sophomore and he’s added more size and strength, setting up a possible monstrous junior year. He’s very tough to block one on one and will track down the ball carrier and make a play. He’s versatile in different roles along the defensive line and clogs the middle well. Teams game planning for Attleboro are going to be focusing a lot on Murphy this season.
Wavol Prentice, Canton – Senior Defensive Tackle
5’8 – 275 – Defensive tackle – Wavol Prentice was one of the most overlooked players on the defensive side of the ball in the entire league last year. Prentice is a very strong defensive tackle that more often than not requires multiple offensive linemen to block him. Against the run, Prentice does a terrific job of clogging up any holes up the middle and can also come from the outside and get into the backfield. Prentice isn’t just all power either, he has great instincts and impressive speed for his size.
Anthony Raneri, North Attleboro – Senior Linebacker
Raneri stepped into the linebacker spot last season as a junior and instantly became a playmaker for the Rocketeers. He reads plays well from his inside position and is a strong presence in stopping the run. Raneri also showed the ability to step back into coverage against tight ends and running backs when the outside linebackers blitz. He has the strength needed to play guard on North’s offensive line, but also has the quickness needed to be an all-round linebacker. With several key players gone from last season’s linebacking corps, notably Chris Hunter and Kyle Rodriguez, Raneri will take on added responsibility this year.
Joey Tepper, Oliver Ames – Senior Middle Linebacker
If you want to run the ball against Oliver Ames, you’re going to want to run in whatever direction Joey Tepper isn’t. Tepper is a very strong linebacker that quickly fills up gaps in the run game, especially anywhere up the middle. He’s very quick to track down the ball and is one of the most sound tacklers in the league. Tepper will be the anchor for the Tigers’ defense this season after OA graduated a lot of talent along the defensive line.
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