Jordan Dean makes his mark for Cambridge-Salem
CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — When a tackle is made for the Cambridge-Salem football team, it's a safe bet that junior Jordan Dean is around the play.
With 116 tackles to lead Cambridge through 10 games, Dean has become a tackling machine for the Indians and is playing at a level high above what was expected of him coming into the 2018 season.
Playing on the defensive line last year as a sophomore, Dean had 24 tackles, but was tasked with a new role for his junior season.
Cambridge lost two defensive stalwarts, in Brenden Holcomb and Max Hoffer, from their linebacking core of last year's Class D state championship squad that went 12-1. Both players were all-state selections and were two of the team's leading tacklers.
With Hunter Day being the lone returning starter at linebacker, someone needed to step into those massive shoes and Dean was tasked with being one of those guys. With his team unbeaten and their defense allowing just 13.1 points per game, it's safe to say the junior has filled those shoes admirably.
Through 10 games, he has already eclipsed the top tackling mark from last year's squad with his 116 mark. Defensive lineman Nate Genevick led Cambridge with 112 tackles last season.
The improvement Dean has made from last season to this fall and the adjustment he made has been very impressive.
"He's there all the time. He's matured as a linebacker this year," said Indians coach Doug Luke. "We wouldn't have survived without him this year. He's been by far the best linebacker we've had. He's done everything. He does a good job with pass defense and he does a good job with rushing the quarterback. He's had a great year."
Along with his team-leading tackle total, Dean has been impressive with his ability to get to the quarterback. The junior has three sacks, which trails only Day's five sacks for the team lead.
Making the move from the defensive line to linebacker can be a challenge for any football player. Their assignments are different and how they approach the play is different as well.
Dean has studied his role and tried to fit into what the team needs from him.
"We've all been improving. I want to be able to do what I'm able to do without the defensive line," Dean said. "They take blockers and I'm free and the guy is right there to tackle."
Cambridge spends critical time studying its opponents and seeing their tendencies through video work and practice. Dean believes ingraining himself in the video work has made a major difference in his ability to read opponent's moves during the game.
"It's been watching film and knowing what the guy is going to do before they do it," Dean said. "Knowing where he is going to be, I can be there to make the tackle."
Luke, who has seen many a strong linebacker over his long tenure at the helm of Cambridge, has been impressed with Dean's ability to take on the heightened role and believes his natural gifts have helped him succeed as well.
"He's definitely been placed in a much more difficult role than he's ever been before," Luke said. "It has come down to its maturity. He's been more of a defensive lineman in the past like his brother, Colton. He's quicker than anyone we have here."
The Dean surname is one synonymous with Cambridge football. Jordan's brothers, Austin and Colton, both played for the Indians in a multitude of roles and he's proud to follow in their footsteps.
"I loved watching my brothers play and now, I love playing," Dean said.
The Section II champion Cambridge squad is set for a Class C regional matchup with Section X champion Ogdensburg Free Academy Friday. Kick off is set for 7 p.m. at Potsdam High School.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.