Now that we have looked over my thoughts on offense, it’s time to take a look at the guys on the defensive side of the ball. Much like the offense, there are plenty of skill positions available for Westfield, it will just come down to the big guys on the first two levels of defense and how they will fill in for the loss of some key seniors to graduation from last year.
Returning: Matthew Moore, John Walker Moore, Alex Myatt, Austin Doyle
Key Losses: Walker Davison, Khory Holiday, Ben Murphy, Cam Forrester
The “Moore brothers” (I know they aren’t actual brothers) will lead the Westfield defensive line this season after a loss of some key players from a year ago. Matthew Moore was the leading sack man for the Hornets a year ago, and I expect him to pick up right where he left off last year and pin his ears back to get to the QB. JW Moore will also be a force to be reckoned with as he will utilize his tremendous size and strength to dominate opposing offensive linemen.
As for the rest of the line though, there are going to be some big shoes to fill. Alex Myatt and Austin Doyle will have to do their part to try and plug in for the undersized, but great player in Walker Davison. The job of filling in for Davison will most likely fall to Alex Myatt, as he did have a steady job in the rotation a year ago. Austin Doyle, on the other hand, will most likely fill the void of Ben Murphy. Murphy played really well a year ago, but had a bad ankle he sustained in the Westminster game. The time off let some other guys get in the lineup, and I think that will help Westfield this season.
A couple of surprise players I can see making a difference on the defensive line this year could be Jarius Hart and Connor Doles. Jarius has the strength and speed of someone that could really bend the edge and be a force on the outside at OLB/DE. Connor also has great size and strength, and could fill in as a DT/DE hybrid type player as well. I look for these two guys both to make an impact on the defensive line this year.
Bottom Line: There are some holes to fill, but John Walker Moore will be the anchor to keep the Hornets on the right track.
Returning: Josh Jenkins, Gavin Edmondson
Losses: Wade Walker, Conner Cawthon
Of all the positions on the Westfield defense, this is actually the one that concerns me the most. Losing Wade Walker and Conner Cawthon is hard to replace. The two guys combined for close to 200 tackles last year, and provided more than that even in heart and hustle. Conner was always there to make the big hit and have that swagger that every defense needs, and Wade was in on every single tackle for the past four years it seemed. So while trying to match the production of these guys will be virtually impossible, there are some players that could step in and certainly be steady.
Two players that are returning are certainly “steady”, and those two are Gavin Edmondson and Josh Jenkins. Gavin was a starter a year ago, and really blossomed into one of the top LBs in the state. I look for him to step up this year and become the captain of this crew. Josh too started last year at times, and played extremely well. He has the heart, the hustle, and the toughness to play in a similar role to that of Cawthon, it will just depend on the toll of playing both FB and LB will have on his body.
So, with two of the LB spots sewn up, that leaves two more open. I already touched on one guy I could see playing an OLB spot in the defensive line discussion, and that is Jarius Hart. I am really high on Jarius because I think with the way he runs to contact with the football; he could easily do the same to opposing ball carriers at the LB position. He has the speed and the size, and could fill a vital role stepping in here. The last spot to fill out the linebacker spot will probably go to Aidan Murphy. Aidan is a steady player as I mentioned in the offensive breakdown, and I think he could provide that same value at an ILB position. He played a lot last year, and should fill in just fine inside.
Bottom Line: Losing Walker and Cawthon hurts, and filling those voids will be hard.
Returning: Reagan Waller, Giles Amos, Austin Burnette
Losses: Tanner Westbrook, Tucker Moody
The “swat squad” as they liked to refer to themselves a year ago will return 2 of the 4 guys that were in the rotation. Tanner Westbrook and Tucker Moody have graduated, and it will be interesting to see who moves up in their spots. We already know that Reagan Waller will hold down one side of the field, but who will be on the other side is the question. My guess is that Austin Burnette will man the other side and give Westfield two dynamic playmakers at the CB spots. On the back end, Giles will be roaming out there in centerfield and looking for even more interceptions this year (is that even possible?).
Beyond those three guys though, there really isn’t a lot of depth for the Hornets. Wyatt Young could be possibility as he has played DB, and is very similar in size to Burnette. Josh Kinnebrew and Griffin Elmore could also provide some depth if need be. All of these players will need to get plenty of work in the summer though, as they don’t have much in live game action.
Bottom Line: Starters are solid, but depth is a little concerning.
All in all, I think the Westfield defense will be a solid unit. I do think they will take a step back this year, but I don’t know if any team could have played on the same level as the 2014 Westfield defense. So while the points allowed might go up a little, I still think they are a quality group that will make the plays when needed.