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Savannah Area football monsters of defensive to watch for 2022

By Travis Jaudon/For Prep Sports Report | August 1, 2022

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The Prep Sports Report previews the 2022 high school football season for Savannah area teams by taking a look at some of the top defensive players coming to a field near you this fall. This group includes notable defensive linemen, linebackers and secondary players. All stats are courtesy of MaxPreps unless otherwise noted and there is no specific ranking in order of posting of players.

Week 1 for most of the teams in this area (GHSA, GISA, SCISA) is Friday, August 19. All stats are courtesy of MaxPreps, unless otherwise noted.

Here are some notable names to look out for this season.

TROY FORD JR. – DE/LB – CALVARY DAY

Ford has played multiple positions for Calvary since arriving on campus as a freshman. Now a senior, the three time first team All-Region 3-A Private standout has racked up 176 career tackles (26 for loss) and 12 sacks. He is verbally committed to play for the University of Central Florida at the next level.

LORENZO COWAN – DE – JENKINS

The junior has had a productive off-season in terms of gaining momentum in college recruiting. He has scholarship offers from Kentucky, Duke, Georgia Southern, South Florida and Minnesota. This season, Cowan figures to be used as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end across from his older brother Tavion Gadson. He had 13 tackles in just six games last season, but he’ll easily surpass that mark this year, likely in the first game or two of the season.

TERRY SIMMONS – DT – CALVARY DAY

In terms of consistent production from an interior lineman, Simmons was the head of the class in 2021 as a junior. He had 67 tackles (19 TFL’s) and three sacks on his way to being an all-region 3-A Private first-team selection. He is committed to play at Duke.

ANTONIO “A.J.” BUTTS – LB – CALVARY DAY

While the Calvary Day defense is stacked across the board, Butts is the player that has produced more than any other. He led the team in tackles as a sophomore in 2021 with 132 (11.5 for loss). As a freshman, he had 87 tackles giving him 219 through two years of high school football. Remarkably, 500 career tackles is within reach for Butts, and that would be a historic achievement for the middle linebacker.

BRYCE BAKER – LB – BENEDICTINE

Baker is every coach’s dream to have linebacker. He is a tackling machine and is seemingly always around the football at the second level for the reigning Class 4A state champion Cadets. As a sophomore last year, Baker racked up 129 tackles (12.5 TFL’s) and 2.5 sacks. In the final three games of the state playoffs, including the title game, Baker tallied 46 tackles (six TFL’s). Still with two high school seasons to play, Baker has 174 career tackles.

TAVION GADSON – DE/LB – JENKINS

Gadson is one of the better athletes in south Georgia as the senior can do a lot of different things for the Warriors. As a junior, he earned first team All-Region 3-4A honors after tallying 60 tackles and six sacks in 2021. He has college scholarship offers from dozens of Power 5 schools, including: the University of Georgia, Miami, Florida State and Auburn.

SHA'RON MCGERT – DT – ISLANDS

McGert is the definition of a nose tackle. The big man is accustomed to taking on two or three blockers on any given play, and his ability to get off the ball, and to the ball, is rare on the high school level. On any list of defensive players in the Savannah area, McGert would be a lock to be on it, and likely near the top of it.

DAVID BUCEY – LB – SAVANNAH CHRISTIAN

Bucey may well be the most underrated linebacker in the area. As a freshman in 2020, he had 98 tackles (14 for loss) and last year as a sophomore racked up 108 (nine) more for a two-year total of 206 tackles. He was forced into quarterback duty last season when SCPS suffered an injury at the position, but it didn’t seem to slow his production on the other side of the ball. Look for Bucey to surpass the 100-tackle mark again this year while pacing the Raiders defense.

COLE SEMIEN – DL – BENEDICTINE

The big D-Lineman was extremely productive as a junior despite being a focal point in opposing team’s scouting reports all season. He racked up 68 tackles (10 TFL’s) and five sacks in 2021.

ASHLEY THOMPSON – S – EFFINGHAM

Thompson is widely considered to be the best safety in the area. His stats back up that consideration. He was a first team All-Region 2-6A selection last year as a junior after logging 52 tackles, three interceptions and five pass break-ups. He has a scholarship offer from the United States Air Force Academy.

ELIJAH GRIFFIN – DE – SAVANNAH CHRISTIAN

Griffin is the youngest player on this list, but he just might be the best someday. The sophomore is a rare talent with college scholarship offers from basically every major college football program in the country. Those schools include Ohio State, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Georgia Tech and dozens of other blue-blood schools. As a freshman last year, the defensive end had a nice season for the Raiders. Griffin logged 69 tackles (eight for loss) and 3.5 sacks (five QB hurries).

FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at travisLjaudon@gmail.com.

PHOTO CREDITS - Players Twitter Pages & Hudl video accounts

Optim Orthopedics supports Benedictine Military School, Calvary Day School, Richmond Hill High School, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham High School, and St. Vincent's athletics. Benedictine Military School's team doctor is Dr. David SedoryDr. David Palmer is the team doctor for Calvary Day School, South Effingham, and Richmond Hill. Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's team doctor is Dr. Thomas Alexander. Remember, Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game!

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The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!


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