Andy Spears, Mt. Vernon linebacker
Though he occasionally moonlights at fullback, Spears makes his mark on defense. As the leader of MV’s Black Out defense, Spears has racked up a team-best 60 tackles. The senior has persevered through multiple injuries during his career in Fortville, but still helped last season’s unit surrender only 19.8 points per contest.
“Last year our defense carried us. We played pretty darn good defense most of the year. Losing guys like Harrison Bova, Brandon Lockart, JonMichael Weaver ... our defense is still trying to fill in for some of those guys,” Mt. Vernon coach Doug Armstrong said. “We played our best defensive game against Pendleton, and our defense is getting better week to week.”
Dalton Korlowicz, Eastern Hancock safety
What Spears is to Mt. Vernon, Korlowicz is to Eastern Hancock. The senior safety is second on the Royals in tackles — he led EH with 90 stops a season ago — and roams the secondary with a buck-stops-here mentality, making him one of the surest tacklers in the area.
Lucas Rice, Mt. Vernon defensive lineman
Armstrong doled out serious praise for Rice before the season, saying that Rice “could be as good a sophomore as I’ve had in a long time.” So far, Armstrong’s prophecy has come to fruition, as the six-foot-2, 240-pound Rice is tied for the county lead in sacks (four) and is third on the Marauders in tackles with 40.
Jackson Taylor, New Palestine linebacker
Taylor has used the knowledge he gained from suiting up alongside 2012 NP seniors Brandon Wiggins, Josh Penley and others to become a leader for this season’s version of the Red Rage defense. Though undersized for a linebacker (5-9, 190), Taylor has the chops to bring down bigger players, and leads the Dragons in tackles with 61.
“He’s not going to be in the high school football Hall of Fame, but he really wanted to play middle linebacker and has packaged the game experience that he got last year and has been a productive player for us,” said NP coach Charlie Hill of Taylor.