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Alex Nease: Defensive player of the year.

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D.H. Conley's Alex Nease, defensive player of the year, poses in the studio on Dec. 19, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The 2017 season began with Alex Nease attempting to get accustomed to his new surroundings at D.H. Conley after three seasons at J.H. Rose.

It ended with the senior linebacker being named The Daily Reflector’s all-county defensive player of the year after a season in which he helped spearhead a stingy Vikings defensive attack that was one of its strongest in recent memory.

Nease logged 141 total tackles (102 solo) in his senior season, 15 of which were for loss. He was the team’s leader in both sacks (eight) and quarterback hurries (13), and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown in the playoffs against Northern Guilford, and also had a fumble return touchdown against Rocky Mount.

“It was really fun. I look back at all my seasons and this is probably one of the most fun ones,” he said. “I just liked the atmosphere of the team and how we weren’t focused on ourselves, but we were focused for each other on one goal and that was to get better, make it to the state championship and win. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but I think it was a good season.”

Nease led Rose in tackles his sophomore and junior seasons. His production continued at Conley, where the Vikings’ defense allowed its fewest points (279) in its three seasons under head coach Nate Conner.

He contributed at least six total tackles in every one of Conley’s games in 2017. In seven of those games, he had at least 10 tackles, culminating with a 22-tackle effort — along with a fumble recovery — in Conley’s last game of the season against Eastern Guilford in the second round of the 3-A playoffs.

By the end of the season, Nease had formed a tight bond with his defensive teammates at Conley, but that’s not to say there wasn’t an adjustment period in which he and the Vikings had to learn each other.

“At first it was a little hard because I didn’t really know anyone,” he said. “I knew of them and they knew of me, but as soon as we got to talking and working out together, it all clicked and I’m best friends with a lot of guys on the team. It really worked out well.”

 

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