It was a tough year for Clinton Arrows especially on defense.
The 2013 season saw just three wins, the worst year since 1995. Last year, the Arrows gave up an average of 30 points per game, or a total 328 points. The defense gave up more than 30 points five times, gave up 44 three times, and 48 points once.
Injuries to key starters and inexperience played a big role in the losing season. But, do not look for a repeat from the Arrow defense this year, coaches say.
“We had so many injuries to key players and we were playing so many young players who had not played in a varsity game,” said Arrow defensive coordinator Bobby Bass. “Our players this year are so much more mature. They have gotten a lot stronger and faster.”
The strengths of the defense are in the linebackers and in the secondary.
Senior Nick Chatman anchors the linebackers. He was a starter as a sophomore two years ago, but missed five starts in 2013 with injuries.
“We’re a lot stronger this year and are playing with a lot of confidence,” said Chatman. “We’re going to stop the run first and get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year.”
Joining Chatman at linebacker will be junior Roy Douglas, who played a lot last year, and senior Isaac Gooden. Lamarques Thomas, known as “Baby D,” was a leading tackler in 2013. He will rotate between linebacker and defensive back.
"Last year was a learning experience for all of us,” said Thomas. “We can’t use youth as an excuse this year. We’re a lot better and are the underdogs in most of our games. But we are going to surprise a lot of people this year.”
The defensive secondary will also be a strength with senior strong safety Tyrance Carr returning. Carr missed the entire 2012 season and the final six games of 2013 with an injury. He is healthy heading into the season and excited about the season.
Said Carr: “It was hard the past two seasons to watch from the sidelines. I am
excited about the challenge this season.”
Also vying for a start in the secondary is junior Armani Lewis. Senior Jamel Johnson is one of the most improved players this year, and will see a lot of action on defense and offense. Junior Ty Irwin will also see action in the secondary.
Senior running back Kenarius Harper and sophomore offensive stars Cameron Akers and Darius Maberry will rotate in at defensive back in long passing situations.
Senior and two-year starter D. J. Henderson has the most experience up front on the defensive line, along with junior Rodney Edwards, who earned a start at the end of the 2013 season.
Junior Haven Cox, a starter up front on the defensive line, also returns.
Also vying for start at linebacker are senior Branden Bernard and junior Carlos Thomas.
“We’re getting better on defense with every practice,” said Cox. “Once our defensive line gets motivated, it sets the whole defensive unit off. If we can stay healthy, we have a chance to go a long way this year.”