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Before the football is snapped, the defense is at the offense's mercy.
The coach can change the play from the sideline. The quarterback can audible from a run to a pass. A wide receiver might come in motion. The formation can be shifted without any notice.
Suffice it to say, there are plenty of moving parts. That's why it's vital for a defense to have a quarterback of its own. The Northwest Whitfield High School Bruins have one in senior middle linebacker Logan Akins.
"It's the ability to grasp everything that we do," Northwest head coach Josh Robinson said. "I ask the most out of linebackers because they've got to play the run and the pass, the run first even against a passing team, and that's difficult. But at the same time, he's the guy that makes all of our calls, our blitzes, our slants, and then there are a lot of different things to grasp if someone does this, we've got to adjust to do other things. He's incredibly important for us."
Akins grew up in the Westside area of Whitfield County and began playing football when he was 5 or 6 at the suggestion of his father. Akins started out on Northwest's freshman team, then advanced to the kickoff team his sophomore year and started a few games. By his junior season, Akins was a starting linebacker. He takes his role seriously since "any little thing I don't see or don't call, it could screw everything up."
"Role wise on the defense, we're all part of the group," Akins said. "I wouldn't single one guy out as the guy. I mean, I do call the plays, and there are things that I have to see personally and let the defensive line know. It's mainly calls, things I've got to watch so everybody can get the job done."
This season, Akins has set a personal goal to improve as much as he can as a player, he said. Team-wise, he's aiming for a region championship. He enjoys the camaraderie of football, and his favorite part about the sport?
"The contact," Akins said. "I've always loved contact. It is football, it's what football is about. To me, it really brings out the guys in everybody."
In last Friday night's 28-7 win over Coahulla Creek, Akins manned the middle as he has for so many games. He finished the game with three tackles (one for a loss). The Bruins travel to Dalton tonight to take on the Catamounts in a county rivalry game. Robinson said the players will continue to look to Akins for leadership from his middle linebacker position, in practice and off the field.
"Since he walked in as a freshman, he's been one of those guys," Robinson said. "He's not a very vocal guy, he leads by example doing the things he's supposed to do and practicing the way he's supposed to do."