• 48°

Friday Night Hero: A.L. Brown's Kaleel Hollis

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — The only difference between A.L. Brown safety Kaleel Hollis and Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu is 12 years, 2 inches, 40 pounds and a serious amount of hair.
Hollis has pledged his NFL allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys, but he respects Polamalu’s game. He watches him on Sundays, tries to play like him on Fridays.
Hollis is 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, good size for an accountant or a trumbone player in the band, but nothing special for a safety. Still, he produced a Polamalu moment opening night.
With Shelby facing third and long, the Wonders were in their “dime” package — six DBs. The surprise call was for a safety blitz from Hollis through ‘A’ gap — between the center and a guard.
“You try to time the snap count and hit that gap full speed,” Hollis said. “It worked. The line parted, and I got a clean shot at the QB. It was a pretty big hit. I didn’t get the sack, but it did take him a while to get up.”
Shelby’s Daylan Fuller is such a good player that he somehow got rid of the ball as he was clobbered, but that physical play by Hollis was a drive-ender.
“That was textbook DB play,” said assistant coach James Lott, who started three bowl games for Clemson and now guides the Wonders’ secondary. “What Kaleel lacks in size, he makes up for with his smarts and his athleticism. He has great awareness on the field. He makes big plays and stops the other team from making big plays. He’s the best short safety I’ve coached.”
When the Wonders chose captains for this season, swift, talented, UNC-bound back Damien Washington was an easy pick. The other captains came from the defensive side — lineman Gerald Holt, who looks as tough and mature as the coaches, and the seasoned Hollis.
“When you’re chosen as captain by your peers, it means something,” head coach Mike Newsome said. “That says a lot about Hollis. Sometimes picking captains is nothing more than a popularity contest or a best-player contest, but those guys don’t necessarily make the best leaders. But this team couldn’t have done a better job. Hollis is as good off the field as he is on it.”
Asked about a defense that’s allowed one first-half TD in three games, Hollis mentions the other 10 starters and a few backups before himself. That also tells you something.
“Our defense starts with Holt and those hogs upfront,” he said. “We’ve got good, run-stopping linebackers and John (Bass) is a great cover guy. As far as the DBs, we don’t have any 6-footers. We’re just 5-9 and 5-10 chunky guys who work out with Coach Hag (strength coach Todd Hagler) a lot and take a lot of knowledge from Coach Lott.”
Hollis said the defining moment in this season came when everything was unraveling in the second half against Shelby. A 30-0 lead had shriveled to 30-24.
“We couldn’t move the ball and we couldn’t stop them and fingers were being pointed,” Hollis said. “But it was the first game and we were still trying to become a team. Then we became one. The offense got a first down. The defense got a chance to rest. Then we went out and took care of business.”
That huge win propelled the Wonders to a 3-0 start, and the ‘D’ looks sharp.
“We have a defense now where if someone messes up, someone else picks him up,” Hollis said. “That’s the definition of a great defense.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’

Education

West Rowan Middle eighth grader wins investment writing contest

Local

YSUP Rowan invites agencies to participate in youth-focused training

Nation/World

US backs waiving intellectual property rules on vaccines

News

As demand drops, Cooper visits vaccine clinic to urge usage

News

NC lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

News

N.C. bill banning Down syndrome abortions nears floor vote

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 301st death from COVID-19

Coronavirus

N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

Local

Rowan Public Library joins initiative to help people with digital connectivity

Local

Mocksville to dissolve police department

Crime

Blotter: May 5

Local

Salisbury’s McElroy named top city, county communications professional in state

Local

Locals condemn use of force during 2019 traffic stop of Georgia woman

Kannapolis

Back and better than ever: Cannon Ballers kick off inaugural season in Atrium Health Ballpark