In the three stories on this front page, you will read a lot about defense, which was key in Hamilton, Nettleton and Smithville all picking up wins this week.

Hamilton got its first win in the last 12 games, dating back to last season’s opener against Coldwater, and that’s a huge boost for first-year coach Wade Pierce and his staff, which are working on getting that program back to some winning ways.

The Lions had big plays from their entire defensive unit, but Gabe Tipton, Jacob Imel and Evan Pounders all came away with turnovers that were huge to the win.

This was my first time to see Nettleton this week, and I definitely came away with the impression that their defense is legit. They too forced three turnovers, and they are lead by their linebacker unit and Marcus Thomas, who’s had double-digit tackles in every game.

For Smithville, the Noles’ defense has allowed just a touchdown or less in two of its three wins and made some big stops in their win over Hatley, in which they allowed 25 points. It’s an experienced group – Jordan Wardlaw and Blake Williams at linebacker have had tremendous seasons so far, but Smithville’s also getting contributions from their entire defensive unit and having some first-time starters step up big as well.

Even Aberdeen, in a loss to South, had a really strong second half on defense as they shut the Cougars out in the final two quarters.

It’s not to say there weren’t guys that stood out on offense, in both the wins and losses. Nick Washington had another monster game for Hatley, and it looks like it’s going to take him no time at all to reach 1,000 yards on the season. Smithville’s entire offense was balanced, with four different guys catching passes and Jabril Smith having a big night on the ground. Hamilton’s two running backs have looked good all three weeks, and I saw plenty of guys get involved in Nettleton’s offense on Friday.

Amory had a strong night out of Braxton Griffin catching the ball, and Aberdeen had a couple of big plays for touchdowns.

It’s easy for us in the newspaper to focus on the offensive contributions, however, and it’s good to get a week where we can really highlight the defense, which has been several of our teams’ bread and butter so far.

This week is one of my favorite games of the season with the A-Game between Aberdeen and Amory, and it could be a defensive player that ends up being the highlight of that rivalry.

Melissa Meador is the Sports Editor of the Monroe Journal. Contact her at melissa.meador@journalinc.com or follow her on Twitter: @MelissaMeador14.

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