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File / The Outlook Benjamin Russell's Pokey Norris (72) put a ton of pressure on Opelika despite Friday night's loss and he is the Outlook Player of the Week.

It’s one thing to be strong. It’s another to be fast.

It’s important to be a big body and it helps to be agile.

But when you have all four of those things put together, you can make for an extremely threatening defensive lineman.

Benjamin Russell’s Pokey Norris is all of that and more, and despite the Wildcats suffering a big loss at the hands of Opelika last week, Norris is the Outlook Player of the Week.

“He was right there in the middle of it all,” BRHS coach Kevin Smith said. “They never really got us in between the tackles and that’s something we talked about going into it.”

Norris racked up the tackles, finishing with four solo tackles and seven assists. He had three for a loss and a sack. And despite Norris’ big frame — he stands at 5-foot-10 and nearly 300 pounds — he’s extremely quick about getting pressure to opposing offenses’ skill guys.

“He’s just one of those guys,” Smith said. “It really comes down to this: When he’s able to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage, he comes off the ball so quick he can get into our backfield. A lot of kids will get into the backfield and they keep going, but Pokey doesn’t do that. He gets in your backfield and he gets there with control. He can go down the line and he can set up a fence there.”

Norris has moved around the defensive line this season, starting at guard then moving to end. But Smith said he and fellow defensive linemen Onaje Brooks and Colby Ford work together extremely well to create a fierce front that has helped Benjamin Russell’s defense be as strong as it is this season.

“Onaje is similar to Pokey, and Colby Ford can get in there and he sets the edge,” Smith said. “They play off each other and they all work together.”

Norris has been through the ringer over the last two seasons as well. He’s dealt with some shoulder injuries and was even held out for at least a game last season, but Norris has overcome those setbacks both mentally and physically.

“He’s maturing a lot and he’s overcoming playing through some stuff,” Smith said. “There’s playing hard and there’s playing injured. We don’t want a kid playing injured, but it’s football; you’re going to be hurt. At this point in the season, everybody is banged up and bruised. But he manages it better.”

Playing another sport also helps Norris stay in shape during the offseason and has likely contributed to helping him keep the injury bug away. Norris is the heavyweight for the Wildcat wrestling team and placed second in the state last season.

“I think any lineman should wrestle,” Smith said. “It’s so good for them not only with the condition but the leverage. They (wrestle) with their hands and that’s where our linemen play. I think it’s great for him. Some of our best linemen have been our best wrestlers.” 

Norris isn’t the tallest lineman in the world, which makes him a risk for some college recruiters. But what he lacks in height he makes up for in sheer talent and work ethic.

“It’s his leverage is his main thing,” Smith said. “He can get up underneath you and to be as big and as strong as he is, he moves really well. He’s quick and he’s explosive.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.