SPENCER — Cecil McCauley has a theory on prospective offensive linemen trying to impede his path to the quarterback. Well, it’s not really a theory as much as it is a suggestion.
“In my mind if you put a o-lineman in front of me and tell him to block me, he can’t block me,” said McCauley, a defensive end who’s been a terror to North’s first five opponents. “But I feel like no matter how good I’m doing now, I can always do better. I haven’t played a perfect game yet.”
He’s not that far off. After five games, McCauley has a team-high 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He’s part of a swarming North defense that’s helped it to its first 5-0 record since 1994.
“Last year we noticed he had the potential to be one of our best defensive players,” North defensive coordinator Steven Williams said. “Right now, he’s doing what’s expected of him.”
McCauley is part of a defense that’s creating turnovers at a breakneck-pace. Although the offense is turing heads thanks to stud quarterback Jareke Chambers, the Cavaliers lead the county in every defensive category, including total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass defense. They’ve forced 14 turnovers, nine fumble recoveries and five interceptions.
North (5-0) finds itself ranked No. 1 in the state among 2A teams for the second-straight week after a comfortable win against Providence Grove and another one on the way Friday against Forest Hills. McCauley says the success the Cavs are riding started to cultivate all the way back in the YFL days alongside teammates Xavier Robinson and Kasaun Coney.
“I always knew it was possible,” McCauley said. “The seniors have been talking about this since we’ve been playing YFL. It’s not something we’re surprised that’s happened.”
The “family” theme that North wears on the back of their team-issued shirts rings true and McCauley is no exception. Even when he’s not getting the accolades, such as Friday night when Mike Robinson grabbed an interception and Jim Herndon recovered a fumble, the jubilation is there for teammates.
“If somebody mess up, we pick them up,” McCauley said. “We’ve got their back.”
McCauley is a returning all-county player and continues to progress from last year, when he tied for the county lead in fumble recoveries with four. North had its best defensive numbers since 1996 last year and will likely trump those figures when all is said and done this year.
McCauley, currently 5-foot-11 and 230-pounds, wrestled for the noted North program that won the state individual championship in March. He’s not afraid to scrap for a fumble recovery as he’s shown the last two years.
“I’m looking to strip the ball on quarterback sacks,” McCauley said. “The quarterback’s keeping his eyes down field.”
Forest Hills is North’s last non-conference tilt before a bye week. Central Carolina Conference play begins at home against Lexington on Oct. 11.
“We knew he’d come back as a returing starter and get big things from him,” North coach Joe Nixon said. “The past two weeks he’s really come into his own. He’s playing good ball for us right now.”