Northside’s linebackers ready to get the season started

Published 5:56 pm Friday, August 2, 2019

PINETOWN — The defensive side of the ball will be the most experienced for the Panthers this fall, and the linebackers are ready to take on the task of anchoring the defense.

Head coach Keith Boyd said the Panthers will “hang their hat” on the defense this year as they will be loaded with juniors and seniors. With a solid group of linebackers, coach Boyd is looking for them to be responsible for their gaps and assignments this football season.

“We want to keep it simple,” Boyd said. “That’s our philosophy. We want to be gap responsible, we want to be assignment responsible, and we feel like if we can keep it as simple as can be, the kids can run around and make plays.”

Senior linebackers Zakkai Wilson and Tyler Turner will lead the linebacker core this season, and will help guide the youngsters that have come up from the JV ranks.

“We got a couple people in new places. Tyler Wayne Harris in the middle, Mitch Godley and Will Godley, those are our JV guys that have moved up and what we’ve seen in practice out of them we’ve really loved.”

The Panthers usually line up in a base-52 defense, according to Boyd. A 52 defense showcases five men on the line of scrimmage. Usually, there will be three defensive linemen accompanied by two defensive ends/outside linebackers — also known as hybrids — on each side of the defensive tackles, with two inside linebackers stacked behind them, creating the 5-2 front.

The Panthers linebackers sounded up for the challenge when asked about the upcoming season.

“Tyler and myself have a little bit of experience,” Wilson said. “I’ve been playing this position for the last two years so I’m trying to help all the younger guys get their feet wet like I did.”

Sophomore linebacker Mitch Godley, and junior Harris, said they were ready to make an early impact in their first year on varsity.

“I think we’ll do pretty good,” Mitch Godley said. “I’ve been playing linebacker since seventh grade, so this will be my fourth year playing the position.”

Harris commended the defensive line, saying the strength and experience they have will help them out immensely.

“I think we’ll have a lot of help from our defensive line,” Harris said. “A bunch of seniors, a bunch of guys that are aggressive and keep guys from getting to us, like Zakkai and Tyler.”

Obviously the defense’s job is to not allow points, and simply put, that was Turner’s goal for the defense.

“Mainly, just keeping the other team off the scoreboard,” Turner said. “We don’t want anybody getting yards or points on us, really. Just make sure nobody can go anywhere.”

Turner also added that the team has been in the weight room before school even let out of session for the summer this year.

His teammate Harris, said that a lot of beef has been put onto this year’s team.

“It seems like everybody has put on massive amount of weights (on their lifts) compared to where we were last year.” Harris added.

The linebackers were ready to get started, while the 2019 campaign is just three weeks away from beginning, as the Panthers will host Perquimans on Aug. 23.