Meeting the Hornets' outstanding defense


They've shut out one opponent and they haven't given up more than fifteen points a game. That's good enough to rank them first in scoring defense among the Pac 6 Conference so far, and has allowed them to absolutely suffocate opposing offenses.

The defense is led by a core of seniors that includes Nick Stone, who starts at the middle linebacker position. "Our defense is very experienced," he said. "Just about everyone is experienced and has been playing at the varsity level for at least one year."

Nick strikes me as a classical linebacker; he looks like he's got the power of a freight train and enough mobility to track down errant ball carriers. He began playing football when he was six years old, and is driven by the passion of the sport.

"What motivates me is the drive. I see the NFL, I see college, I want to get there one day."

Like many of his fellow seniors, Nick is planning on attending college. Right now, Ohio University is at the fore, but he is hoping to receive scholarship offers from the likes of Duke, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest.

"I'm still keeping my options open right now, so I'm just looking to see what more offers I get towards the end of the season."

With only two games left, the Hornets are on the final stretch of their season. Their only blemish is a loss to Southern Durham, a 9-12 heartbreaker. Said Nick, "I think this is just a wake-up call for our team, to get us woken up, and recognizing that we have to play harder."

And woken up they have -- since then, the Hornets have won their last four straight by an average margin of 15.24 points.

Helping out the Hornets up front is senior defensive linemen Jamari Bynum. Even without his pads, Jamari resembles a sixty-ton tank. He's humble and soft spoken, but there's no mistaking the fire behind his play. When asked what his favorite aspect of playing defensive end is, he responded with a laugh, "Just hitting somebody. Playing an assignment and just unloading all the anger into one person."

A good thing too, since Jamari also plays fullback for the Hornets. "In the fullback, I'm still hitting people, so it's the same as in defense."

So far, Nick, Jamari, and the rest of the Hornets' defense have done an outstanding job not only limiting opposing teams, but relieving the pressure on their own team's young offense and giving them the time mature into an effective unit. Nick remains confident that his offense can overcome any growing pains.

"Well, we have great coaches, so I trust my coaches with all my heart. The offensive line is young, and I trust my coaches to get them in shape to where we can win. I'm pretty much confident that we're going to pull it together within the next few games and get to the state championship."

As of right now, the Hornets are sitting near the top of the Pac 6. Yet they know they can't afford to begin thinking about the post-season just yet. Each game is taken as it comes. Said Jamari, "It's all just business, that's all. Can't take nothing personal, just got to have it in the back of your mind, just got to go get the money."

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