Meacham the man at LB

Published 11:13 am Thursday, August 22, 2019

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Senior Hunter Meacham has the talent to continue Davie’s tradition of producing terrific linebackers.

Christian Launius (123 tackles in ‘13 and 168 in ‘14), James Boyle (160 in ‘15 and 206 in ‘16), Cody Hendrix (130 in ‘15, 182 in ‘16 and 203 in ‘17) and Matthew King (101 in ‘17 and 123 in ‘18) have left their marks on the program over the last six years.

In 2019, Meacham is going to be the man, and it’s going to be exciting to watch.

Defensive coordinator Blaine Nicholson said: “He’s got all the tools. He’s got the mentality. He’s nasty. He likes to run around and hit people, and he can cover ground really well.”

Meacham (6-1, 190) oozes star potential after making 56 tackles as a varsity sophomore and 39 last year, when he tied for fifth in that category despite missing five games with an injury.

Offensive coordinator Matt Gould: “He is always flying around making plays.”

Head coach Tim Devericks: “Hunter is the whole package. He can run with a back out of the backfield; he’s not going to be a mismatch problem against anyone we face. He also has the physicality. He can’t wait to hit somebody. He’s also a very intelligent player. He’s very good in the classroom and that transfers to the football field as well.”

The defense has some big pieces to replace after losing the top two tacklers from 2018 in King and Peyton Hampton (96 tackles). The other linebackers – juniors Gage Recktenwald (25 tackles at safety last year) and Trevor Richardson (10) – are undistinguished on the varsity level. They’re looking to quickly change that.

Devericks: “Gage was part of it last year. He got some reps and that will help him make more plays. He’s very capable of doing that.

“Trevor is a very smart kid. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he’s always where he should be and doing what he needs to do.”

The defense’s fortunes could rest with how effective the 6-foot-2 twins are in the middle of the trenches. Ben and Bishop Norman were born to be football players. The defensive tackles are beastly at 345 and 325 pounds, respectively. Ben became a consistent contributor as a junior, tying for fifth with 39 tackles and adding 13 for losses. Bishop (11 tackles) played a backup role.

Nicholson: “They’re finally getting a chance to play together (in starting roles). Ben is very productive in shutting down run concepts, not allowing people to pull on him and providing a pretty good pass rush.”

Devericks: “They’re excited to be able to play alongside each other. Last year it was one is in the game and the other one is out. As much as possible we’re going to try to have both playing next to each other.”

The ends/edge rushers – senior Zach Smith (6-3, 186) and junior Avery Taylor (6-2, 200) – are looking sharp.

Nicholson: “Zach’s coming off the edge and doing a lot of good stuff. He’s winning with a lot of speed and using his length. Avery’s an edge rusher on the other side. He’s doing a lot of good things. He’s physical and relentless.”

Gould: “Man, Zach’s hard to block (because) he’s so long and athletic. Zach and Camden (Beck, the left tackle on offense) has been a good battle to watch. They go back and forth.”

Devericks: “Zach is long, athletic and quick. He has really stepped it up as far as being the vocal and energy leader of the defensive line.”

Junior Ivan Poag, another defensive end, is an athlete. Last spring he was all-conference in the high jump and a state qualifier in the high jump and triple jump.

Nicholson: “He competed in the Junior Olympics (in July). We’re going to ask him to come off the edge – it’s a new position for him – and he’s going to have a lot of success.”

Devericks sees untapped potential in the 6-2, 170-pounder.

“Talk about somebody who probably doesn’t realize his full potential at times,” he said. “Ivan is a big kid. When you look at him, you think: ‘There’s a man.’ He just doesn’t realize the God-given talent that he has. We’re trying to expose that talent and take advantage of what he could bring to our team.”

Senior Paul Pollard and junior Darius Leonard are competing for time at tackle and end, respectively.