Defensive tackle Charles Wilkes may not make the big play on each down, but the Mooresville senior has developed a knack for disrupting offenses.
"I can just create plays," said Wilkes. "When my teammates need someone to rely on, I can come out and help them do whatever it takes to stop the offense."
The physical, 6-foot-2, 250-pounder can get in teams' backfields in a hurry, zeroing in on the quarterback or stopping the run.
Blue Devil coach Hal Capps said Wilkes' quickness is what makes him stand out.
"His best asset is his speed and he uses that to his advantage," said Capps. "He's very explosive, very powerful."
Wilkes, who played running back when he started football as a child, said speed is something he's constantly working to improve.
Aside from his ability to get by people in a hurry, Capps said Wilkes' attitude has also impressed him.
"He brings a lot of passion to the game," said Capps. "He's not a 'rah-rah' guy at all, he's very calmed, very cool."
After recording 71 tackles and nine sacks last season for the Blue Devils, Wilkes has received plenty of attention this season.
"When people look at our defense, they know about Charles and they're trying to figure out 'how do we combat him?" Capps said.
But double- and even triple-teams haven't slowed Wilkes down much.
"I just have to slip through, turn my shoulder, just fight to get penetration," said Wilkes. "You have to switch up, you can't do the same move. I come off the line thinking about what gives me the best chance to get past them."
The 17-year-old added that being the focus of attention is flattering.
"That shows that I'm a threat," said Wilkes.
Capps said Wilkes' strength has helped him hold his own against the extra attention.
Wilkes, who likes to compare his style to that of Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end Trent Cole, agreed, saying that he's seeing the 30 pounds he gained in the offseason pay off.
"I'm a bull-rusher," he said. "I just push them and move them out of the way."
Wilkes also inspires his Blue Devil teammates with his actions.
"When he makes a sack or that big play for a loss our kids get excited," said Capps.
But the Blue Devil defense doesn't focus on Wilkes.
"We're not going to change our system because we have an outstanding player," he said. "We know he's going to do his thing."
Wilkes isn't the only standout on the defense.
Capps said he's proud of the entire group, which has seen many players stand up through the season. He said he's been impressed with the performance of the linebacker unit - especially seniors Scott Markofski and Martavion Moore.
Wilkes also has help on the line from junior defensive end Deandre "Scoop" Coleman. The two linemen complement each other well.
"We have chemistry," said Wilkes. "We talk to each other, watch tape together and see what we can do to get better."
Wilkes said Coleman keeps him motivated, as the two are constantly competing to see who has the better stats.
Offensively, the Blue Devils have been inconsistent. Capps said there is a lot of work left to be done on that side of the ball.
But as long as the Mooresville defense continues to play at a high level, Wilkes said they will put the team in a good spot to win the rest of the games on the I-Meck schedule.
Although he's focused on helping his team have a good year, Wilkes is also looking to get more attention from colleges. He hopes that will be a stepping stone to achieving his lifelong dream of playing professionally.
"Since I was young, that's all I've ever wanted to do - to be in the NFL," said Wilkes. "Hopefully that can happen one day for me."