Position Breakdown: Northside

Published 5:40 pm Saturday, August 12, 2017


Read more: It’s Marslender’s show to run

Northside loses mobile quarterback Jackson Midgette, but will have senior Matthew Marslender slotting into the signal-calling role. Marslender saw some snaps as Midgette’s backup last season. He provided one of the season highlights when he gashed Jones Senior for a 43-yard, last-minute touchdown run to steal a 20-12 win. While Marslender doesn’t bring the same level of raw athleticism Midgette did, he does possess plenty of football sense. His knowledge of the system will help newer players make an easier transition into larger roles this season. Behind Marslender will be sophomore Carter Boyd.


The Panthers’ talent on the offensive line will be key to helping their running backs adjust to taking on more responsibilities. It starts with center Zachary Griffin. His chemistry with Matthew Marslender and his leadership on the line will help the offense run smoothly. Senior guards Anthony Oro and Ryan Carawan also bring experience. At tackle, Gray Lewis (290 pounds), Samuel Aria (285) and Jon’Malik Foreman (315) will provide the raw power to create gaps.



Northside graduated its five-best rushers from last season — including James Barrow, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. He and Midgette combined for over 1,600 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground. Johnathan Clark showed flashes of brilliance as a sophomore and should get more carries this year. Senior Raydarius Freeman will provide Northside with a power option. A handful of other two-way players will help fill the void, making up what should be more of a committee approach than last year.


Passing isn’t a big part of what the Panthers do. Last season, a lot of the throwing they did was either to players out of the backfield or on trick plays. Even so, they have a handful of talented, albeit younger, players at the receiver position this season. Senior Tyreck Brown will lead the group. At nearly 6-foot, he can use his athleticism and height to beat defenders in one-on-one scenarios.



The tight end position will provide Northside with another avenue to move the ball. The Panthers have two experienced, different players at the role in seniors Parker Boyd and Dawson Jackson. The strength Boyd has added since last season will let him block effectively, or make a catch in traffic and fight for yards. Jackson brings know-how to the position. He showed consistency as a junior in 2016. He led a run-heavy squad with seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.



Most of the offensive line will hold down the front on defense, too. Northside will have a healthy combination of size on the line and speed on the ends. Big Panthers like Jesse Black will help stop the ball from being run through the middle. Longer players like Ryan Carawan, Zachary Griffin and Raydarius Freeman — who will likely see time at linebacker and defensive end — will help curb the loss of Rhys Alligood.



Northside appears to have more talent at linebacker than any other position. Seniors Cameron Cahoon and Parker Boyd return and will hope to build on a fantastic showing last year. Cahoon led the Panthers 93 tackles, and Boyd ranked third with 69 tackles. On the outside, another senior in Raydarius Freeman showed his ability to get behind the line of scrimmage in 2016. His 5.5 tackles for loss were third best on the team. Dawson Jackson and a handful of other capable, younger players should add depth at the position, too.



Even though Northside lost two top defensive backs in Jackson Midgette and Chris Slade, this year’s secondary seems like a stronger group. Matthew Marslender will be a defensive leader just like he’s the leader on offense. Shikeem Carter and Tyreck Brown are two seniors at the cornerback position that, from an athletic standpoint, should be able to effectively cover opposing receivers. The Panthers also have another senior in Tyree Blount, and junior Johnathan Clark showed flashes of brilliance last year. With Marslender at strong safety, they also have Tanner Alligood at free safety to lock down the entire defensive backfield.



Samuel Arias and Parker Boyd have been working toward filling the need for a kicker and punter. From a coverage standpoint, Northside’s experience on defense gives it plenty of smart and athletic players that can contribute on special teams. The Panthers also have numerous athletic players that can return kicks, although it will be tough to replace the explosiveness brought by James Barrow.