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Hill brings rare experience to otherwise green defensive backfield

Morris senior defensive back Kyle Hill must feel at times like he’s in charge of quality control.

As the lone cornerback returning to the Redskins secondary with experience at the varsity level, Hill said the summer seasoning the unit has gotten this time around is of great value.

“We’ve all played as freshmen and sophomores, so that experience is going to help some, but varsity is another level. Everything is faster,” Hill said. “That’s what I think the summer is good for, helping you learn the speed of the game. You learn to communicate more and you get to work coverages, but communicating is the big key.”

Communication for the defensive backs has been a point of emphasis this summer according to defensive coordinator John Courter.

“As far as the DBs go, our safeties and corners, our communication has gotten much better,” he said. “The adaptation to the way that the offense sets up has also gotten much better, They still bite on the receiver once and a while, but that’s natural. But we’re breaking that habit. Overall they are doing better. This is not the same team we started out with at the beginning of summer, two months ago, by any means.”

Yet the key to stopping the opposition’s passing game this fall seems to have fallen on Hill to be a king.

“What Austin (Laurie) is to the linebackers, Kyle is to the DBs. He’s been the leader and he’s vocal,” Morris head coach Alan Thorson said on Thursday after a 7-on-7 encounter with Seneca.

“Kyle is one of those kids like (graduated) Jake Hogan. You look at him and he’s not real big, but he’s going to hit you. Actually a couple of times tonight, he wanted to make a hit, but he obviously held back. Kyle is going to be a real sold corner for us.”

One corner with some varsity experience does not a secondary make. So who is going to fill in the remaining blanks?

“Me and Deano Meucci have been getting the most snaps this summer at corner and Tyler Post and Jake Walker have been the safeties,” Hill said.

Though he lacks varsity experience in the secondary, Thorson seems to like the guys who have been in the rotation this summer.

“Jake Walker was a star on the sophomore team last year and had an unfortunate injury that put him out, but he’s a force on both sides of the ball,” Thorson said.

“(Walker and Hill) looked locked in and then we’ve really been working guys into rotation.”

Courter said that the development of Robbie Meucci as a linebacker has created openings for others in the secondary, including Dean Meucci.

“We’ve moved Robbie from a DB to a linebacker spot and he’s staying there. I’m not moving him out,” he said. “As far as Deano goes, we’re worried about injuries. He’s had to deal with them. So, we’re hoping that he stays healthy and can come up and make that hit. As far as where he needs to be and where he’s going and the way he’s communicating, he’s doing great.”

The consensus then is that much of who plays where and when is going to be determined by what happens next week at the Redskins’ padded camp.

“That’s going to come down to when what happens when we put the pads on next week,” Courter said. “I’m 90 percent sure I know who is going to start at safety, but we have probably four people who could step up the first game. We’re really going to see who steps up next week. Everybody’s progressing and everybody is learning. But it’s a whole different game when you put the pads on and have to hit a wide receiver.”

Thorson agrees.

“Our camp next week is going to really give us a better gauge as to who the starters will be, but Deano Meucci and Tyler Post have been getting first team reps and are doing a good job,” he said. “Matt Darlington, Jeremy Shannon, Josh Hulbert and Jake Reed have all been rotating in and doing a good job. It’s a good competition. The nice thing about this year’s group is that, if somebody needs a break, we really feel like we are going to have a guy ready to step in for them.”

That is a good thing if Morris football fans want to rest easy when the defense needs a critical stop late in the game.

“We need to keep communicating and talking,” Hill concluded. “We need to know where the routes are going. As long as we know where the routes are, we should be able to stop it.”

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