State Gazette Football Co-Defensive Player of the Year - Dyersburg Trojan Kalen Edwards

Monday, June 17, 2024
Dyersburg Trojan defensive lineman Kalen Edwards


With eyes on his game ranging from opposing offensive coordinators to coaches at the college level, Dyersburg High School junior defensive lineman Kalen Edwards has been named the State Gazette Football Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the 2023-24 school year.

Dyersburg Head Coach Bart Stowe talked about having a player on the defensive line the caliber of Edwards.

“You know, everything with us starts up front,” Stowe said. “Coach (Jerome) Agnew does a great job with our line just like our other coaches.

“The defensive line sets the tone for our defense. Those guys work hard for us and they represent well out there on the field.”

During the course of the year, it began to become obvious opposing offenses were looking to keep the ball carriers away from the junior defensive tackle.

“Offensively, you’re going to try to run the ball and throw the ball to the side that best benefits you,” Stowe explained. “And to the side where you can have your best success.

“That being said, they definitely tried to run away from him at times.”

With the opposition doing this, Stowe and Dyersburg Defensive Coordinator Matthew Shearon had to be creative with how Edwards was placed along the line of defense.

“We had to be creative sometimes where we placed him or where we moved him defensively,” Stowe pointed out. “Coach Shearon did a really good with the defense, coordinating and keeping it multiple. He also kept it where Big K could be moved different places.”

Playing at defensive tackle does free up Edwards to be able to be moved around during the course of a game.

“He plays in the middle of our defense at times at defensive tackle,” the Trojan head coach said. “He’s able to go both ways.

“He’s a fine young player who had an outstanding year last year. He was a huge leader for us on the defensive side of the ball.”

Through the 2023 regular season, Edwards recorded 11 solo tackles and assisted on 18 others for a total of 29. 9.5 of those tackles were for loss while also recording two sacks for a loss of 16 yards. Edwards also had a forced fumble and three blocked kicks.

To say college coaches noticed this would be an understatement as he received 12 Division I offers during the regular season alone.

Edwards was also recognized after the season by the coaches in Region 7-3A as he was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the region.

The Dyersburg junior was also recognized across the state as he was selected as a semifinalist for the 2023 Tennessee Titans Class 3A Mr. Football Award. In doing so, he became the first Trojan since 2018 to earn this honor.

Following the season which saw him help lead his team to the Class 3A Semifinals, Edwards was also named to Class 3A All-State teams by the Tennessee Football Coaches Association as well as the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.

“He was definitely respected by the coaches in the region,” Stowe recalled. “We put him up for it and everybody voted for him. It was unanimous because he was the defensive player of the year. Every one of our region games he made an impact defensively.”

Stowe pointed to Edwards’ hunger as his biggest strength.

“He’s hungry to keep getting better,” Stowe said. “He’s not satisfied with where he is right now.

“Sure he’s a fine young ball player but he wants to keep getting better. Obviously, he’s got good size and good strength. He’s got good quickness, too. But, he’s hungry and he’s humble. He’s ready to do what his team needs him to do.”

Heading into his senior season, the attention from the college level will continue. As the 2024 season approaches, Stowe expects Edwards to have more of an impact on the other side of the ball as well.

“He played offense last year at different times but, this year, he’s going to have more of an impact,” Stowe pointed out. “He’s going to play more offense than he did last year.

“He’s got experience and he is capable. It’s his senior year and he wants to be out there to help his team as much as possible. It goes back to what I said – everything starts up front for us. Our offensive line and our defensive line, they set the tone. We’re going to go where our offensive line takes us just like our defensive line. We’re going to stop them where the defensive line sets the line.”

This is a challenge Stowe feels Edwards will take to.

“He takes a lot of pride in it,” the Trojan head coach added. “He is a leader for us. He’s the biggest leader right now, too.

“He leads by example first. He is one of the first there and one of the last ones to leave. He’s a ‘yes sir’, ‘no sir’ guy. He’s one of those that wants to be coached and wants to get better. He wants to work. He’s showing them he’s right there with them chopping the wood and putting in the work.”

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