Regardless of win/loss records, most high school football fans would agree that these linebacking units deserve top recognition. These groups possess the most important ingredients to being a highly ranked unit. Those ingredients would include excellent play side flow, speed across the unit, and the ability to have each player in that unit around the ball when making the tackle. Each player brings his own talents and knowledge to the team and they eventually blend, with the ending result causing opposing offenses to adjust their playbooks. Give the position coaches on these teams a large amount of credit because its not easy blending different talents and personalities. Expect these linebacking units to boost their respectable teams up to the top of every defensive category for 2014-15.
1) St. Xavier (OH) Led by All-American Justin Hilliard, the mighty Bombers of St. Xavier look to start off the season by shutting down one of the nation’s top running backs in Natereace Strong of East St. Louis Sr. Hilliard will lead a group of determined backers who are known for bringing smack after smack to opposing offensive players. Don’t be surprised if the Bombers are a top 5 national leader in rushing defense.
2) Plano East (TX) Look for the Panthers to boast speed and extreme ball-hawkishness as they look to shut down teams behind the leadership of Landis Durham. Although their schedule proves nothing less than a “walk through football hell” their linebacking core will help the panthers step into any opponent’s cage and put up a tough fight. Look for Plano East’s defense to compete for a top spot in QB sacks as well as defensive turnovers.
3) Gordo (AL) The Green Wave look to surround opposing offenses with an array of talent on defense led by Ben Davis. The boys in green and gold won’t focus on a disappointing preseason national ranking but instead look to stand firm with a “bend but don’t break” style on defense. Red Zone defense may prove to be this team’s biggest plus. You can count on Davis to lead the Wave’s defense into battle with results that may surprise pre-season poll voters.
4) Granite Bay (CA) With hard-hitting USC commit Cameron Smith leading the Grizzlies’ defense into action this year, most scouts would sum up the year for opposing offenses in one phrase…”uuummmm that’s gonna hurt!” Simply put, these guys hit and they hit extremely hard. The Grizzlies’ opponents will have a hard time holding onto the ball when facing what national scouts would consider one of the most physical linebacking units in the nation.
5) The Patriots are have been known in past years to throw up an iron curtain when opposing backs attempt to get yardage. This will especially be true this year when all-world linebacker Jason Vravick leads the Patriots’ defense into battle. Excellent tackling, fast flowing, and discipline are some of the attributes that stand out when you watch this linebacking corp. Look for Stevenson to have one the top defenses in the state of Illinois and possibly be a top ten nationally ranked defense by season’s end.