10/24/13 — James Kenan's solid defense due to depth

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James Kenan's solid defense due to depth

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on October 24, 2013 11:00 AM

James Kenan, the Carolina 1-A Conference football leader, finds itself atop several defensive categories.

And it's no coincidence, either.

The No. 1-ranked Tigers recorded their second shutout of the season, 36-0 over Lakewood last week. They've allowed just 80 points in eight games this season.

"The best thing about our defense this season is that everyone is healthy," head coach Ken Avent Jr. said. "I felt like our defense was pretty darn good two seasons ago, but injuries hurt us toward the end of the year. This year we are about 100 percent."

Depth has been the biggest ally for the Tigers.

The team's top four tacklers either play defense exclusively or have limited roles on offense. They are able to rest and make adjustments on the sideline between possessions.

Tyler Pugh leads Kenan's defense with 59 stops. Justin Boney has 40 tackles, while Juan Hooper has 37. Keevon Miller collected 34 tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and picked off a pass.

"Our linebackers have done a great job all season," Avent Jr. said. "Having those guys play defense only allows us to coach a little on the sidelines and it also keeps our guys fresh for the second half which is a big advantage."

James Kenan has also turned defense into offense the past two Friday nights. The Tigers scored three defensive touchdowns against North Duplin two weeks ago, and added two more scores in the win over Lakewood.

Princeton is the lone team to reach the end zone more than twice this season against James Kenan. Since that game nearly a month ago, the Tigers' defense has yielded 20 total points and their offense has outscored their opponents 143-20.

Overall, Kenan has a 307-80 advantage in total points scored this season and that margin could likely expand with Hobbton (1-7 overall) and Spring Creek (2-6) remaining on the schedule.

"We can't worry about what anyone else's record is," Avent Jr. said. "I tell the guys every day that we have to take a season one day at a time and focus on getting better in practice."