GRIDIRON PREVIEW

Salas high on ‘smothering’ Wildcats defense

By RUDY COGGINS
Of The Record Staff
Posted 8/17/22

A preseason coaches’ poll in NC Prep Football News magazine has Hobbton selected to claim the 2022 Carolina 1A Conference championship.

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GRIDIRON PREVIEW

Salas high on ‘smothering’ Wildcats defense

Posted

NEWTON GROVE — A preseason coaches’ poll in NC Prep Football News magazine has Hobbton selected to claim the 2022 Carolina 1A Conference championship.

Head coach Joe Salas agrees his Wildcats are contenders.

“We’re excited about this team,” Salas said.

Especially on defense. According to Salas, it’s the strongest unit he’s coached since his arrival three years ago.

During the offseason, his staff stressed the little details that make big things happen. It’s a simple package that could cause opposing offensive coordinators to search for headache meds Saturday morning.

Key defensive returnees are linebackers Torren Melvin, Garrett Britt, Bobby Dial, Riley Brewington and Julian Avilez.

Melvin logged 105 tackles, including eight stops behind the line of scrimmage, and collected five turnovers.

Avilez suffered an offseason ACL injury and should be cleared by his doctor Sept. 1. He collected 112 stops and seven tackles for loss.

“Melvin is an absolute superstar,” Salas said. “Brewington and Britt at safety are super smart kids that make the puzzle pieces fit together. Our linebackers are explosive. Our defense, they all hold each other accountable. They all like each other and they all don’t want to let the other down.”

“They get after it. It’s a smothering, swarming big-hit defense.”

Junior Cole Weeks takes over under center.

Salas says the lanky signal-caller has the same throwing ability as Loden Bradshaw, who graduated, and added that Weeks has a little more athletic ability and brings diversity to the offense.

Weeks has a new corps of receivers, but also has the offense’s bread-and-butter guy in the backfield - Dial.

An all-conference and first-team All-Record selection as a junior, the hard-nosed running back churned out 1,701 yards and 21 touchdowns on 275 totes.

He reeled in 27 receptions for 265 yards and two scores.

“Bobby is the heart and soul of our team,” Salas said. “He’s a lot faster than people think, he’s tough as nails. He loves to compete, wants to compete and wants to get better every day.

“The O-line loves him, the team loves him and the coaches love him.”

Hobbton seeks its first winning season since 2019.

For that to happen, Salas says the Wildcats must avoid turnovers and consistently move the chains. The defense has to swarm to the football and win the takeaway ratio.

“We’re going to have to play with a great tempo and wear people down because we’re not the most athletic team in the conference,” Salas said. “We have to drag them into the fourth quarter and take them down.”

Rudy Coggins can be reached at rcoggins@mydailyrecord.com.

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