By NICK McQUEEN
It might be difficult to imagine a defensive down lineman leading a team in tackles, let alone tackles for loss.
Oh yeah, and Norton Community High School's Jacob Green is just a sophomore. But that's just what he did.
A 6-foot-2, 235-pound lineman, Green arguably was Norton's best lineman on both sides of the ball. He led a stout Norton defense with 86 tackles (22 for loss), and recorded three sacks, all from a down position.
"Even as a freshman, Jacob did a lot of great things," said Norton coach Lucas Melvin. "He just continued to improve. He just stepped in this year and was awesome for us."
One of the best defensive players on one of the best defensive team in the area this season, Green was named the Defensive Player of the Year on the HDN's 31st annual Super 11 All-Area Football Team.
"On the lines, he' just a tough young man," Melvin said. "He's got great feet, and is an athletic kid for his size."
Also a third-place medalist in Class 3-2-1A as a freshman 220-pound wrestler last winter, Green this fall was a key cog on a defense that, outside of a 55-20 playoff loss to perennial power Scott City, was nothing short of dominant. The Bluejays surrendered no more than 16 points in a regular-season game, and gave up just three touchdowns in Mid-Continent League play. Norton also recorded three shutouts. And, Green and the rest of the starting defense was not on the field much late in games.
"Defensively, he's just a tough kid to block," Phillipsburg coach J.B. Covington said of Green. "He about requires a double team, and you have to account for him all the time."
Ten-win Phillipsburg, the league's second best team, managed just a lone touchdown against the Bluejays, and that came on a kick return in a 34-7 Week 2 loss. Most of the scoring against Norton came in the second halves of games when the outcome was all-but decided, and numerous times was against the Bluejays' backups or even third string.
Green, and the rest of the Norton defense was a big reason for that. Green was one of three interior defensive linemen -- along with seniors Breven Sondergaard and Wyatt Hartling, who all recorded at least 25 solo tackles.
Melvin said that took away from a great linebacking corps that really didn't get a chance to make any tackles. Norton gave up approximately 800 yards rushing and 600 yards passing all season.
"He's just not a great defender, but a dominant offensive lineman too," Melvin said of Green.
Norton's offensive line paved the way for 330 rushing yards per game. Other than the 55 points allowed to Scott City, Norton gave up just 70, which was among the best in Class 3A.