Listed at 5-8, 185 Harlan County’s Kainer Caudill doesn’t look like a typical nose tackle. The senior doesn’t play like one either. Rather than serving as a run-stuffer in the middle of the Bears’ defensive front, Caudill is a disruptive force that spends much of his time in the opposition’s backfield.
“Size doesn’t matter on our defensive line, but strength does. Quickness also matters a whole lot, and he has a lot of strength and quickness,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey. “Sometimes he gets across the line of scrimmage and grabs the quarterbacks legs before he can even get the handoff made.”
Caudill uses his combination of quickness and strength to bear crawl through the interior of opposing offensive lines, often disrupting a play before it begins.
“He is a good athlete. It takes kids with speed like him to get the job done on the line of scrimmage. That makes our defense run really well. Playing on the defensive line for us, you are actually on the ground bear-crawling a lot,” Larkey said. “He has stopped a lot of plays from happening. He can run the offensive guys into the play, and it leaves our linebackers more open to make the play. He is probably one of the toughest kids there are to block.”
In addition to his speed and strength, Caudill’s ability to process information on the field has allowed him to thrive for the Black Bears.
“My ability to tell what the play is going to be and how the offensive line is blocking helps a lot,” he said. “It’s not the easiest job I could have on defense, but I love it.”
Caudill is currently fourth on the team with 86 total tackles this season. Although he has been stellar on the defensive side of the ball, Caudill’s highlight of the season likely came against Letcher Central, when he scored on 76—yard run on his first carry of the year.
“I guess it’s just because of my speed and quickness. I have a lot of help beside and behind me too,” Caudill said of his success on the field. “I have just got in the weight room and worked hard. I didn’t think that I would be playing on the defensive line. It took about two years before I was able to work my way up.”
Caudill and the Black Bears will host Pulaski County in the regional championship today at 7:30 p.m.