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Arrow defense looks to be solid again this season

By Danny C. Davis

Arrow defensive coordinator Hammer Morgan instructs defensive linemen

Arrow defensive coordinator Hammer Morgan instructs defensive linemen

In 2022, the Clinton Arrows played well defensively against arguably the top offenses in Class 6A. The Arrows played against seven teams that were in the top five in the polls at one time during the season.

The Arrow defense pretty much stopped the run against most opponents but, at times, had breakdowns in pass coverage on deep throws in the secondary.

Defensive coordinator Hammer Morgan feels this year’s Arrow defense will be just as good at stopping the run and much improved on pass coverage in the secondary.

“Our secondary has more experience and depth than we have had the last couple of years,” said Morgan.

Overall, the defensive line looks solid again, with the biggest concern being replacing a couple of three-year starters at linebacker, Kamarious Gibson and Jacquavyian Carter.

Despite losing seven starters from 2022, the Arrows have a lot of guys who had playing time in defense.

The leaders in the secondary are senior returning starters Veshone Malone, 6’ 3”, and Donavon “Blue” Coleman, 6’ 0”, at corner back.

“We’ve really got three tall guys back there at the corner with Veshone, Donavon, and Chase Harper, who is also tall,” said Morgan. “This is the first time in a long time we have had height and experience in the secondary.”

“We feel like we can defend the pass a lot better this year,” said Malone, who also starts on offense at wide receiver.

“We have more depth in the secondary with a lot more guys like Brady back there now that can play,” Coleman agreed. “Also, we are a lot closer as a team this year. The chemistry is good.”
Morgan also said seniors Latravious Wheeler and Brady Torrence have both looked good and will be in the secondary mix. Also expected to see playing time and depth in the defensive secondary are juniors Josh Barnes and Justin Singleton.

The defensive line that was so good at stopping the run last season lost a couple of starters, but has three starters back.

Leaders returning on the defensive line are Jonathan Flowers, a 6’ 2” 275-pound defensive lineman and a Division 1 UAB commit, along with 6’ 2” 330-pound T. J. Spann, also on the defensive line. Both have two years of starts. Senior defensive end Bennie Jenkins had a lot of playing time in 2022 returns. Morgan said juniors James Farr, 5’ 9” and 230 pounds, and Lazivan Tinner, 5’ 9” and 275 pounds, will also be in the mix on the front defensive line.

“Both those guys have really been playing hard,” said Morgan.

“We have just about everybody back on the defensive line,” said Flowers. “Most of the big plays against us last year were passes. We feel we can stop the run again this year, and our secondary is much better.”

“We have a lot of very physical players on the defensive line and will play very physical again this year up front,” said Spann.

Despite losing two three-year starters at linebacker, seniors Lucian Price and Tyler Railey had a lot of starts last season at outside linebacker. Price can also play inside linebacker. Senior Michael Johnson has looked good and will play at the outside linebacker slot. Morgan says he is excited about a couple of young sophomores, Robsen Neblett and Jaiden Jefferson, who will also be in the mix at inside linebacker.

“I learned a lot playing behind Gibson and Carter last year,” said Railey. “We have a lot of young guys at linebacker this year that are really going to be good.”

Lucian Price agreed, “I feel Railey and I can pick up the slack this year, and the new sophomore linebackers, Neblett and Jefferson, are very good and can step right in.”

Morgan said his unit will have multiple alignments this year.

“We will be very multiple, instead of just a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment, to get the right people set up for the right situations.”

“I feel like we have some very smart football players this year. Like every year, it takes the first couple of games to get everything worked out; but we feel like this will be a good year,” said Morgan.


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