Davie Football: Defensive line could be a strength

Published 1:15 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Sports Editor

If trench play matters – and anybody who’s been around football will tell you it matters tremendously – then Davie’s defense is built to shine at the right spot.

There’s plenty of bulk, depth and experience up front. In fact, the defensive line should be the best it’s been in years.

“We return a lot of experience there,” defensive coordinator Blaine Nicholson said. “Those guys are bigger and stronger. We’re super deep. We like to rotate the DL like crazy so that they’re fresh in the fourth quarter. The offensive lines that we see are road graders. We see some big dudes, so we’ve got to be fresh. We’re two-deep at all those positions.”

Between the edge rushers, tackles and nose guards, six have varsity experience. Nicholson called junior Landon Barber (6-0, 265) the tip of the spear at nose guard.

“He’s probably the strongest guy in our program,” he said. “He’s kind of reshaped his body to not only be strong but to go as many plays as possible.”

Senior tackle Matty Warner (6-2, 230) has taken major steps forward since 2022.

“This is his time to shine,” Nicholson said of the third-year varsity player. “In spring and summer ball, he did everything the way he’s supposed to. He cares all about Davie and he’s locked in. He’s in better condition than he’s ever been and he does about the best job of any of our defensive linemen with his hands. He gets great lock-out with his hands, great punch, physical. I think he’s watched film and saw where he can get better, and he’s going to be a big player for us.”

Nicholson is crazy about Trey’von Doulin, who looks like a potential breakout star on the edge.

“He’s a first-to-get-off-the-bus type of guy,” he said of the 6-0, 200-pound senior. “He looks like a guy who can bend the edge. This year we’re trying to put him in better positions where he can just go to work on the edge and not ask him to kick in as much. You talk about somebody who looks the part. You’ll be like: ‘My goodness, who is that guy?’”

A name to remember is Xavier Parker, a 6-3, 350-pound sophomore who has the size to stare down a pit bull. The big fella will likely back up Barber at nose after missing most of the 2022 JV season with an injury.

“Xavier is an absolute mountain of a man,” Nicholson said. “If he can get right, there’s going to be guys coming to recruit him. In the (JV) games he played, he dominated. You can’t get the play started; he’s impossible to move. He does a good job with his lateral footwork. He’s just huge. Two guys have to block him to move him.”

Nicholson gave senior end Brandon Wood (6-0, 200) a strong compliment by calling him a junkyard dog.

“He doesn’t care where you put him,” he said. “He can be double-teamed, it doesn’t mater, he’s going to fight. He’s going to get up every single play. He’s really bought in this offseason. I’m really excited to see what he can do.”

The stacked DL includes junior tackles Grayson Cayton (6-0, 270) and Nathaniel Jordan (5-6, 220) and junior end Billy Krause. All will get a lot of snaps.

Cayton was the starting nose in 2022 before suffering a season-ending injury against North Davidson and missing the last eight games.

“Cayton’s another huge body that’s hard to move,” Nicholson said. “Great hands, good feet.”

“All of those guys can play,” head coach Tim Devericks said. “We can rotate, stay fresh and put pressure on offensive lines – being able to run to the ball, occupy blockers and occupy gaps. To not lose a lot when we rotate defensive linemen is phenomenal.”