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Downers Grove North's Dave Edwards dodges Hinsdale South's Toby Starks and Josh King while running the ball at Downers Grove North High School on Friday September 6, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media

While Hinsdale South finished a sometimes frustrating season with a 34-7 loss to Downers Grove South on Friday, the 4-5 Hornets go into their 2014 season knowing they have a solid anchor on defense in sophomore lineman Josh King.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound sophomore took a big step forward this season with 28 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a fumble recovery for the Hornets.

“He has the physical tools. As he matures, gains experience and strength he will be an even better player. He has the potential to be a big-time defensive lineman,” Hornets coach Michael Barry said.

Senior defensive lineman Antanas Riskus, who will be heading to the Air Force Academy next season, was effusive in his praise for King and the development he showed as a player.

“Expect big things from him. He’s almost at the same level I was this year and I’m a senior,” Riskus said. “He’s a sophomore and he has come along so fast and works so hard.”

King had similar thoughts about the senior, who he saw as a mentor.

“He is a great player and when I came here he took me under his wing and I wouldn’t be the football player that I am without him,” King said.

In Friday’s season finale, King kept the Mustangs’ running game to the outside for much of the contest. He had three tackles, a half-sack — teaming up with Riskus — and a fumble recovery on a botched snap.

The future looks bright for King, but he sees room to grow.

“Next year I want to improve my work ethic,” he said. “And I want to get better at technique. Footwork, tackling, all that. I want to improve on all the little things to be a better player.”

The Hornets will look to do the same next year and get back above .500 for the third time in four years.

“Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job this year,” Barry said. “We had some injuries to our offense, but other guys stepped up and that’s what it’s all about. Before the season I thought we’d be competitive and we were for much of the season.”

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