There is one linebacker in particular that has caused fear for many offenses Morristown West has faced this season.
James Ross is no stranger to the physical play at the linebacker position. He’s entered the 2021 season with a hungry mentality of taking down the best of what an opponent has to offer. After four games played, he’s led the Trojans defense with some impressive numbers his senior year.
Ross leads the team with 38 tackles through four games. Of the 38 tackles, 23 of them have been solo and four have been tackles for loss.
“He’s a kid that puts his heart and soul in everything he does,” West coach Alvin Sanders said. “He is committed to this team and committed to getting better. We can always count on him on the defensive side of the ball to make a play for us. He’s extremely important for us.”
He’s also added a sack against Hardin Valley in Week Two to his senior resume.
For Ross, his confidence at the linebacker position comes from his teammates beside of him in the core of the defense.
“I have a competitive nature already,” he said. “When I’ve got two of my best friends beside me in Corson Olodey and Jake Duquette, it makes me push myself to be better.”
Ross ended his junior season with 47 total tackles and is sure to exceed that this season with six more games to play as he is averaging 9.5 total tackles a game this year.
His game goes beyond the numbers, though, according to Sanders.
“He’s the type of kid that will do anything we ask of him,” Sanders said. “He’s at the point now where he is leading drills in practice if we need him to. He’s always looking to lead the team in some way. He is always in that zone as a leader should be.”
Ross first started with seven tackles in a win against Morristown East, where he was a part of a defense that held the Hurricanes to seven points in the second half. His season-high came against Hardin Valley with 15 tackles and followed the impressive performance with 12 tackles against David Crockett.
The senior only managed four tackles against Greeneville’s explosive offense but played as a vocal leader for West’s defense as the Greene Devils avoided his side of the field.
“Although I was being avoided, I made sure everyone else knew their assignments for every coverage on the sidelines after each series,” Ross said.
As the season progresses, Ross is seeing himself turn into the leader he has worked hard to become since starting at the linebacker position his sophomore season.
“I think my biggest growth as a linebacker has been physically,” Ross said. “When I started as a sophomore, I was on the smaller side and was in danger of the offensive linemen. Now, the offensive linemen are in danger of me.”
This kind of confidence from Ross has created a player opposing offenses have feared during matchups.