CENTRAL POINT — If there's been one staple of the Crater football program over the years, it's been an ability to play stout, hard-hitting defense.

CENTRAL POINT — If there's been one staple of the Crater football program over the years, it's been an ability to play stout, hard-hitting defense.

Much of that has stemmed from a host of physically imposing and athletic linebackers that have come through the Comets' system over the years, and this season is no different.

Outside linebacker Derrick Turituri is doing his best to carry on a steep tradition of playmakers on defense, joining with senior teammates Garrett Alner, Chance Fahndrich and Nate Heard to give Crater a potent linebacker corps.

"His athleticism and his tenacity set him apart," says Crater head coach John Beck of Turituri, who is also a standout on the track team. "When you're 6-foot-21/2 and 218 pounds and can run as fast and are as physical as he is "… those guys don't come along all the time. He'll play somewhere big-time Division I, there's no question about it."

While Turituri also plays tight end for the Comets, the junior's true love is at linebacker. It's the position he's played the most since taking up the sport in third grade, and the one he feels the most natural playing.

"I love it," he says of playing linebacker. "The one-on-one pass rush is the best. I like rushing and hitting the quarterback."

Given his athletic ability, Turituri's turned that passion into a nightmarish scenario for opposing offenses.

"Tackles for loss, sacks, disrupting, chasing down plays, second efforts "… he does it all," says Beck. "He makes plays all the time. He's a 20-plus involvement a game kind of kid. We're lucky we have a couple of those kind of guys on our defense."

Turituri wasn't needed for the second half of the Comets' two nonleague games to open the season, but was a key figure last week as Crater tried to slow the Southwest Conference's most potent offense in Thurston. Despite the loss, the 16-year-old playmaker availed himself very well with a team-best 23 involvements, with Alner notching 20 involvements.

"He fits great in a 4-3 scheme as a Sam linebacker," says Beck. "He's definitely a special player."

Turituri says part of his success lies in the help he gets from his teammates. The Comets are allowing an average of 281 yards per game and have forced eight turnovers.

"I feel comfortable with our team no matter who we're playing," says Turituri, whose older brother Tyler played quarterback for the Comets and is currently a redshirt freshman safety at Portland State. "When I'm going off the edge and they run to the other side, I trust my team that they're going to get him and we're not going to get run over."

Turituri has also gained confidence from the myriad of camps and clinics he's gone through over the years, spending as much time as possible to help hone his abilities. Playing in the Crater system has also had its benefits.

"Our coaches really develop the players and I think I'm able to read plays a lot better this year because we do a lot of read drills and blitz-engage type stuff to get better," he says.

Whatever the source, there's no denying Turituri's results.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry