Posted On: 03/11/21 6:25 PM

Like in Week 1, we saw some incredible performances in Week 2. So many, in fact, that I’ve decided to split this and future POTW features into two parts — one of the offensive standouts and another for the top performers on the defensive side of the ball. As always, the more info I get from players, coaches and parents, the easier it is for me to highlight the top performers of the week.

More than just a rundown of the most rushing yards, receiving yards, tackles, etc. I want this to highlight players that made huge impacts the previous Friday and also raised their recruiting stock. So without further delay, here are my defensive players of the week.

John Balas, LB- Providence

Stats: `10 tackles, sack, pass deflection, 2 TFL, INT

Balas’ versatility really impresses me. He can line up as a fourth down lineman on one play, line up in the slot on the next, and then return the ensuing punt. He’s a big hitter that makes impact plays in every phase of the game.

Cody Hardy Cody Hardy 6'5" | LB Parkwood | 2022 State NC , LB- Parkwood

Stats: 13 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack, 60 receiving yards, rushing TD

Before the season, we debated where to rank Hardy for a while. In the end, we put him decently far up our board. Obviously, we didn’t do enough. Hardy has been on fire to start the season, becoming a key offensive player while actually improving on his defensive production from a year ago. He projects as a dynamic edge rusher, but for Parkwood he never leaves the field, playing nearly every snap on offense, defense and special teams. If he keeps up this production, he’s going to be hard to leave of the postseason All-State team.

Joshua Harrelson Joshua Harrelson 6'0" | LB Hoke County | 2021 State NC , LB- Hoke County

Stats: 15 tackles, fumble recovery

Harrelson has put up at least 15 tackles and a fumble recovery in each of Hoke County’s first two games. Simply put, he’s all over the place. He excels at shooting gaps and putting a lot of pressure on offensive linemen to pick up their assignments. He’s also a longsnapper and makes plays on special teams as well.

Josh Iseah, DL- Independence

Stats: 10 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks

Iseah has come out of nowhere to dominate early this season, putting up 10 tackles in each game as a defensive lineman. Against East Mecklenburg, he also caught a touchdown pass as a tight end.

Tamorye Thompson, DL- Grimsley

Stats: 7 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks

Grimsley’s defense has been dominant this season and while top recruit Travis Shaw Travis Shaw 6'6" | DL Grimsley | 2022 State NC gets a lot of the recognition, Thompson has been terrorizing offensive lines this spring. He has five sacks and eight tackles for loss in two games.

Caleb Bowling Caleb Bowling 5'11" | DB Davie | 2021 State NC , FS- Davie

Stats: 14 tackles, pass deflection, interception

Bowling is one of my favorite defensive back prospects in the state, as he’s all over the place defensively. He can play as a single-high free safety, an in-box, strong safety or in the slot as a corner. His upside is tremendous and he’s off to a fast start this year.

Aundrey Loftin, LB- Hunt

Stats: 25 tackles, TFL

I almost featured Loftin’s 17-tackle week 1 performance last week, but left him off the list. This week, there was no way he wasn’t making this article. He’s not racking up tackles by getting in on the action late in plays and stealing assists on already-wrapped ball carriers, he’s had at least 14 solo tackles each week, with 20 of that variety this week.

Xavier Jackson, LB- Western Harnett

Stats: 21 tackles, rushing TD

Jackson is patient as a linebacker, and doesn’t make many false steps. He wraps up well and drives with his legs to limit yards after contact. This week, he chipped in with a powerful 1-yard rushing touchdown on offense.

Justin dsf Justin dsf 6'0" | QB Charlotte Latin School | 2023 NC Taylor, DB- Goldsboro

Stats: 7 tackles, 3 interceptions

If you pick off three passes in one game, you’re going to be a player of the week, it’s just a fact of life. What’s better than three interceptions in a game? How about three interceptions in the end zone in one game? Taylor was a huge factor in Goldsboro’s 21-7 win over Anson.

Ta’Darrin Griffin Ta’Darrin Griffin 6'2" | LB Shelby | 2023 NC , LB- Shelby

Stats: 4.5 sacks, forced fumble, fumble recovery, 16 tackles

Griffin had a game for the ages against R-S Central, racking up 16 tackles, 4.5 sacks and forcing and recovering a fumble. It came seemingly out of nowhere as he had six career tackles coming into Friday’s game. He wasn’t really on our radar before, but now I’m watching him closely.

Other Top Performances

Liam Barbee Liam Barbee 6'1" | LB Charlotte Catholic | 2021 State NC , LB- Charlotte Catholic (21 tackles)

Gabe Bare, LB- Ashe County (16 tackles, forced fumble, interception)

Joshua Stoney, LB- Mountain Island Charter (3 sacks, 6 tackles, safety)

Hunter Berryhill, Edge- Overhills (3 sacks, 9 tackles, 5 hurries)

Angus Weaver Angus Weaver 5'10" | LB Polk County | 2023 State NC , LB- Polk County (8 tackles, TFL, fumble recovery, 151 yards, 3 TD)