Linebackers guide Norcross' stingy defense

Norcross linebacker Warren McWilliams knows exactly what to say to get a rise out of his teammates Kevin Mouhon and Jaquan Frazier.

Maybe he’ll mention something about having more tackles than them in last week’s game. Or will say something about one of them missing an assignment.

“I instigate a lot with them,” McWilliams said. “It goes back to that going at it each day. We really know how to push each other’s buttons. We’re still family and it’s all fun.”

Frazier, McWilliams and Mouhon have developed a brotherly bond on Norcross’ defense. The three linebackers have been the centerpiece of the unit all season. All three are playing their best football of the year as they head into Friday’s Class AAAAAA semifinal game against Colquitt County.

“Yeah, they have to be leaders. Anytime you have a defense that’s solid, it’s starts with your linebackers,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. “They have to line people up. They have to know what the coverage is, they have to know what the front is, they have to know what the blitz is. They are really the only ones that have to know everything.”

Mouhon and Frazier started at linebacker last season, while McWilliams was a backup and also played fullback. The Blue Devils graduated Tommy Tate, the county’s leading tackler last year, and McWilliams has stepped in to take his place.

“He’s just one of those kids that loves the game,” Maloof said. “He’s a lot like Tommy. He throws his body around and gets after it.”

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound McWilliams is second on the team in tackles with 164. He has 31 tackles for loss, two sacks, eight quarterback hurries and five pass break ups.

“He has that nasty attitude. You have to have that nasty attitude to play this position,” Frazier said. “He puts on that role so well and goes out and plays hard each play.”

At 5-10, 170 pounds, Frazier doesn’t have your typical size for a linebacker, but that allows him to do multiple things at the position.

“He’s the one we can move around. With the kind of offenses we play, he’s the guy you don’t have to change personnel and bring in an extra defensive back. He’s the guy that can play solid against the run in the middle and then slide him out in space and make tackles in space.”

Frazier, a Georgia Southern commitment, is third on the team with 131 tackles. He has 32 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, seven pass break ups and two interceptions.

“He goes at it,” McWilliams said. “He’s not one of the biggest guys out there, but he’ll go and make his presence felt out on the field.”

Added Mouhon: “He has a knack for getting to the ball. He’s does a lot of things for the team.”

The 6-1, 225-pound Mouhon has received the most recognition out of all three. The former defensive lineman turned linebacker is a highly recruited player and is committed to Tennessee.

“He’s probably the most well-known,” Maloof said. “He’s a great player. When we had to move him to linebacker, he picked it up and flourished.”

Mouhon was third in the county in tackles last year with 152 stops. He leads Norcross with 167 tackles this year. He also has 24 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and six pass break ups.

“He brings the boom. He can really hit somebody,” McWilliams said. “He’s just ferocious out there and is really relentless on every play.”

Norcross’ defense has been pretty impressive all season thanks to the trio. The Blue Devils are only allowing 75 yards rushing and 108 yards passing a game. They’ve also recovered 12 fumbles and intercepted 11 passes.

“We push each other and we challenge each other every week to be better in practice and in games,” McWilliams said. “It’s a lot of fun playing out there with those guys. They make me better.”

During the playoffs, they’ve been even more impressive. The defense has allowed just 16 points in three games. A big part of that is Frazier, McWilliams and Mouhon leading the way.

“All three have bought into what Coach (Pat) Standard has asked them to do,” Maloof said. “They are like one. They are not individuals. They are just a solid group.”