MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

July 3, 2014

Ironhead returns to familiar spot in defensive line

Eufaula coach Larry Newton made the observation in a moment of reflection on his Ironheads’ 2013 campaign.

Shifting Daxton Williams from his customary defensive tackle to defensive end due to need, it created a soft spot in the middle of the Eufaula defense.

“He’s better inside against the run and I think that was when things went downhill for us defensively,” Newton said.

Williams took it in stride.

“You do what you’re asked to do and I’m going to go anywhere he needs me to,” Williams said. “I’d rather play inside because I’m a little quicker against the guys I match up with there and I can clog the gap up easier. But it’s what was needed, so I went to the outside.”

Having your uncle as coach brings a little more accountability on those things.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior will be back at the tackle spot this year and should be one of the area’s best. He could be an even better tight end, where he was a standout at a camp in Duncanville, Texas, and will go to the University of Oklahoma’s elite camp this month.

“I want to be the guy where there are moments I can put the team on my back,” he said.

One thing stands as key to making that happen, said his coach.

“Up to now I think one of his biggest drawbacks is a lack of a mean mentaility,” Newton said. “He's becoming more comfortable with his body size so I think that will come around.”

The light went on in basketball, Williams said.

“I was the guy in the paint and I had to make myself a bruiser-type,” he said. “I’m just translating that mindset to the field.”

Graduation hit the area hard on the defensive front. All-Phoenix Defensive Player of the Year Tramal Ivy, who played substantial time there for Muskogee High School a year ago but also manned the free safety and a linebacker spot, is gone. The two highest vote-getters at the position, Hilldale’s bookends of Justin Sanders and C.J. Hunnicutt, both are gone. Among those returning who look to  step up are as follows:

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