D.J. Bostick has led a talented defensive core for a Northwest Cabarrus team that lost a lot of talent from last season.
Bostick, a 5-foot-11, 270 pounder, not only leads the Trojans (5-4, 3-2 in the South Piedmont Conference) in sacks - having recorded 13 going into last week's game against Central Cabarrus - but he's also one of the leaders on the squad.
"I've played up to my potential," said the defensive lineman. "Last year, I didn't play as well... I've been playing harder this year."
Northwest Cabarrus coach Rich Williams said Bostick has been an integral part of his team the past three years.
"We've been able to move him around to any position on the defensive line," said Williams. "He's so versatile because he's so quick off the ball and his explosiveness and strength have really benefited us and helped us as a team."
Williams said that's happened because of all the preparation and hard work Bostick puts into getting better every week.
"We couldn't be more tickled with how he's played his senior year and we're looking forward to him continuing this," he said.
Bostick said he's done better than last year when he was named all-conference. He attributes that to making a point of aggressively going after the football.
"I never stop, I keep my motor going all the time," said Bostick.
Williams said Bostick and the defense have been the stronghold of his young Trojans.
"They come ready to play and give their best effort," said Williams. "We're pretty talented on the defensive side of the ball. We're pretty lucky to have not only D.J., but 10 other guys who can play as well."
Fellow defensive line veterans Donovan Shaw and Jaron Johnson as well as newcomer Weston Smith, who moved up from JV this season, have also come up big for the Trojans.
Linebackers Rob Atwell, Matt Pless and John Edmond have solidified the Northwest front seven.
"Everybody has played well," said Bostick. "We're getting to the backfield and putting some pressure."
The defense's importance is even more palpable, as the Northwest offense has struggled at times this season.
Bostick said he has seen some improvement in the Trojan offense.
"They're moving the ball much more than they were at the beginning of the season," he said. "They're keeping the ball longer, which helps us catch our breath and play harder."
Williams explained that if the offense starts clicking, Northwest could be a threat for other teams.
"We know that if we put a couple of scores on the board we're going to win games because the defense we have," he said.
Williams added that Bostick also plays an important role in the locker room.
"He's a good teammate," he said.
"He wants us to do well first."
But Bostick admits that he can be selfish, but only when it comes to making sure he gets his tackles and sacks.
"I just love the way it feels," he said.
Bostick is trying to close out the regular season strong, as he continues to try to garnish interest from college coaches.
He said he's been approached by N.C. A&T, N.C. Central, UNC Pembroke as well as Catawba College.
Bostick added that he doesn't expect to make a decision until after football season ends.
The Trojans face two of the SPC's top teams in the final two weeks of the regular season. Northwest will face perennial conference contender A.L. Brown Friday and surprising second-year program Cox Mill, the Trojans' new rival, to close out the season next week.
Bostick hopes his team shows up these last few weeks, so the Trojans can earn a spot in the playoffs - where he thinks they could make some noise.
"People are doubting us right now, so we're going to shock a lot of people because they aren't going to play us hard and think that we're sorry just because we're Northwest," he said.