Family business: Cousins, Brown and Ducksworth lead McComb’s strong defense

McComb’s defense has stifled opposing attacks all season, limiting opponents to just 11.5 points per game on average.

Much of the success on this side of the ball is down to the linebacking duo of senior Delvareo Ducksworth and second Martavious Brown. Head coach Alden Foster said the defense will play as well as they do.

“These are our bell cows. We built our defense around them,” Foster said. “They’ve been making games all year.”

That was evident last Friday in the Tigers’ final regular season game as both made plays in the streak to help McComb beat Raymond and finish as undefeated district champions.

“The moment I said (Brown) we had to put the team on our backs,” Ducksworth said. “We were injured at the time, but we knew we had to do it for our team. We stop at nothing. Our opponents may be tough, but we’re tougher. We’ve done that all season.

Although they each had a chance to shine last week, they are both very good for each other, making all the plays and getting the credit.

“If he’s not playing, I’m here. And if I don’t play the game, he’s there. That’s the kind of bond we have,” Ducksworth said. “It doesn’t matter which of us do it, we just support each other because that’s what we’re here for.”

This selflessness and connection stems from the fact that the two are cousins. They grew up playing football together and became very close to each other.

This closeness is even represented in their jersey numbers, with Ducksworth wearing No. 7 and Brown wearing No. 6.

Playing side by side is something they have always dreamed of.

“We’ve always talked about playing together since we were little, but I never expected it to be like this,” Brown said. “We also talked about playing together in college, so hopefully that will work out.”

While it might now seem unimaginable to imagine them anywhere else on the field, they didn’t always play linebacker together.

Ducksworth had been a defensive end for the past three seasons, but Foster made the decision to turn him into an inside linebacker when he became head coach.

“I told him he could do it because we were going to teach him,” Foster said. “I always thought that as a coach, if a child wants to learn, you have to be ready to teach him. My coaches have done a great job of getting him in a good position and breaking it down for him and he’s capitalizing.

Ducksworth was initially nervous about the transition, but has since come to love it.

As a linebacker, Ducksworth had to work on his pass coverage and call defenses. And as a senior, Foster turned to Ducksworth as defensive unit leader, which required him to be more vocal than he had been in the past.

“Last year I wasn’t so talkative,” Ducksworth said. “This year, I feel good. I talk a lot with the team on and off the pitch. We go out to eat and stuff, which we really didn’t do last year and it helps us to cooperate more on the pitch.

Once Ducksworth graduates, that leadership role could fall to Brown. But for now, he’s okay with making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks and running backs with his knack for getting into the backfield from his center linebacker position.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time and I’ve coached some great ones, but he sees it faster than anyone I’ve coached,” Foster said. “He looks like Devin White, but he also plays like Devin White. It’s just God-given talent and instincts.

Brown has always been an instinctive player, but Foster said there were times early in the season when teams tried to use him against him. They were trying to get him to bite on a scythe or use a read option to get him out of position.

This was even the case early in the game against Raymond, however, Foster said he told Brown to slow down and let the game come to him. Once he was able to do that, Rangers had no answer for him. He managed to rack up two sacks and a few tackles for the loss.

Part of the reason the pair are able to make so many plays in the backfield is due to McComb’s high school play. Foster said his corners and safeties have stepped up significantly allowing the Tigers to play a lot of men’s coverage. That, in turn, gave Ducksworth and Brown the freedom to do what they do best — wreak havoc in the backfield, which Foster thinks the two can do beyond high school.

However, before the linebacking duo worry about where they might team up collegially, they feel like they have unfinished business to settle before the season is out.

“We didn’t have the shutouts we wanted, but they’re coming, trust me,” Brown said. “We are the best defense. We’re going to the state championship with this defense. I have the best safeties and cornerbacks I could ask for. We’re really just stacked across the board on both sides of the ball.