2011 was a fun football season to cover. Doing broadcasts on Thursday and Friday nights this year meant I saw more high school football this season than any year in my life.
There were plenty of good stories to follow this season. Now it is time to recognize the performers who proved to be the best on the gridiron for 2011.
First Team Offense
Quarterback: Mark Weidenaar (senior, Lakeside)
Weidenaar bounced back from a torn ACL to perform as well as any quarterback in the entire area. While he had a little trouble early with turnovers, they came against some of the top teams in the two-state area.
For the season, he threw for nearly 1,700 yards and rushed for 887. He also accounted for 27 total touchdowns. He led the Panthers to the state playoffs and was the Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year.
Running back: Jamal Cummings (junior, Grovetown)
Cummings rushed for 1,289 yards on just 191 carries for a 6.7 yards per carry average. He also rushed for 13 touchdowns, giving him 31 rushing touchdowns in his prep career. He was named First Team All-Region.
Running back: Johnathan Long (senior, Lakeside)
Long rushed for 1,266 yards and had 344 yards receiving. He accounted for 18 total touchdowns and was named First Team All-Region in 2-AAAAA.
Wide receiver: Jonathan Edwards (sophomore, Lakeside)
I’m not sure if he will stay at wide receiver, but Edwards looked at home there this season, especially late in the year. He led the county in receptions and yards receiving, with 33 catches for 623 yards and four touchdowns. His 18.9 yards per reception was among the area’s best.
Wide receiver: Joacinto Grimes (sophomore, Evans)
Like Edwards, Grimes really got better as the season went on. He finished with 27 catches for 378 yards and rushed for 254 yards on 29 carries. Evans gained 11.3 yards every time he touch the ball. He has a very bright future.
Athlete: Myles McDavid (senior, Evans)
McDavid was one of the more dangerous weapons in the county. He had 43 tackles, an interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown on defense, all while accounting for more than 400 yards and five touchdowns on offense. He was named All-Region as a defensive back.
Tight end: Michael Clifton (senior, Augusta Christian)
Clifton made an amazing transition to a new position this year after playing offensive line a year ago. The big target caught 27 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns. He was named Offensive MVP in the North Carolina/South Carolina All Star Game.
Offensive lineman: Steven Holden (senior, Grovetown)
Holden battled through some early injuries to spearhead the county’s best rushing attacks. He was named First Team All-Region.
Offensive lineman: Chandler Jones (senior, Evans)
Jones was the leader for a very young Evans team. He was named All-Region for the second consecutive year.
Offensive lineman: Akila Parks (senior, Grovetown)
Parks is a solid college prospect and has been offered a scholarship by junior college power Georgia Military. He was Second Team All-Region in a very tough region.
Offensive lineman: Matt Herzwurm (senior, Augusta Christian)
Herzwurm has been a fixture up front for the Lions as a four-year starter.
Offensive lineman: Alan Troutman (senior, Greenbrier)
Troutman has helped open holes for one of the area’s top running backs for the past two seasons. He was named All Region in 2-AAAAA.
Offensive lineman: Tony Perella (senior, Lakeside)
Perella might have started the season as the third- or fourth-best lineman for Lakeside but hard work and consistency earned him a spot on the first team.
Kicker: Eric Preheim (senior, Lakeside)
Preheim led the county in scoring and nailed 80 percent of his field goals this season, including two from 40 yards and beyond.
First Team Defense
Defensive lineman: Jacob Wright (senior, Lakeside)
Wright easily could have made the team on both sides of the ball. He was outstanding for the Panthers this season. He was named First Team All-Region and was the Panther Golden Helmet Award winner.
Defensive lineman: Sam Graham (senior, Lakeside)
Graham was part of a tremendous Panther defense, and was First Team All-Region.
Defensive lineman: Sean Gaddy (senior, Lakeside)
Gaddy has a motor and nose for the football. He also was named All-Region.
Defensive lineman: Damon Stinger (senior, Grovetown)
Stinger was a First Team All-Region selection for the Warriors. He had more than 60 tackles, including 13 for loss.
Linebacker: Daniel Winfield (senior, Grovetown)
Winfield is a really fun player to watch and an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses. Had 105 tackles and four quarterback sacks. He also came on as a running back late in the season.
Linebacker: Danny Leonardi (senior, Lakeside)
Leonardi was named First Team All-Region in 2-AAAAA.
Leonardi epitomized the Panthers “No-Name” defense, which featured more than a half-dozen great players.
Linebacker: Jamario Thompkins (junior, Greenbrier)
Thompkins is a good-looking college prospect for next season. He was second for the ’Pack with 85 tackles in just nine games.
Linebacker: Javeon Brigham (junior, Lakeside)
Brigham finished second in tackles for the Panthers with more than 80 stops on a very balanced defense.
Defensive back: Alonzo Hill (junior, Harlem)
Hill had two kick returns for touchdowns. He also picked off four passes and led Harlem with 52 tackles.
Defensive back: Clifford Saggus (senior, Evans)
Saggus was a solid cover corner for the Knights. He had just one interception and 37 tackles because teams were afraid of his side of the field.
Safety: Thomas Brown (senior, Greenbrier)
Brown had a team-best 92 tackles for Greenbrier. He picked off four passes and in his first season on offense, had 22 catches for 478 yards and a county-best seven touchdowns. He was Region 2-AAAAA Defensive Player of the Year.
Safety: Luke Reeve (senior, Lakeside)
Pound-for-pound, Reeve might be the hardest hitter in Georgia. He led Lakeside in stops with more than 90 tackles on the season.
Safety: Jacob Lane (senior, Lakeside)
Lane is an All-Region performer who should get a chance to play at the next level. Has was great at times for Lakeside this year as a three-year starter, and a part of some great defenses in his career for the Panthers.
Punter: Jacob Rizner (junior, Evans)
Rizner averaged 40.2 yards per punt (38 punts/1,528 yards). Only seven of his punts were retuned all year, and only for a total of 37 yards. also led Evans and was second in the county with 33 catches. Rizner was named All-Region as a wide receiver.
Second Team Offense
Quarterback: Tyler Roberson (junior, Augusta Christian)
Running back: Jahvon Hardrick (senior, Greenbrier)
Running back: Thomas Banks (sophomore, Augusta Christian)
Running back: Kevin Higgins (sophomore, Augusta Prep)
Wide receiver: Eamon Diehl (senior, Lakeside)
Wide receiver: Rhett Stanley (senior, Greenbrier)
Athlete: Jeremy Harden (junior, Greenbrier)
Tight end: Hunter McBride (junior, Grovetown)
Offensive line: Lee Bellmer (junior, Lakeside)
Offensive line: Tyler Pearce (senior, Lakeside)
Offensive line: Ryan Griffin (senior, Greenbrier)
Offensive line: Austin Burke (junior, Grovetown)
Offensive line: Mike Downing (sophomore, Augusta Prep)
Kicker: Corey Stone (junior, Grovetown)
Second Team Defense
Defensive line: William Wolfe (senior, Augusta Christian)
Defensive line: Caleb Turner (junior, Grovetown)
Defensive line: Jamal Thompkins (junior, Greenbrier)
Defensive line: Terin Quarles (junior, Augusta Christian)
Linebacker: Jordan Rice (senior, Evans)
Linebacker: Cameron King (junior, Greenbrier)
Linebacker: Gage Gilbert (junior, Augusta Christian)
Defensive back: Adonis Roberson (junior, Augusta Christian)
Defensive back: Trevor Burns (junior, Greenbrier)
Defensive back: C.J. Cooper (junior, Grovetown)
Defensive back: Alex Prichard (senior, Lakeside)
Defensive back: Nate Pylant (sophomore, Augusta Prep)
Punter: Eric Fogle (senior, Augusta Christian)
Evans: Stephon Jacobs, sophomore running back; Michael Mazul, senior offensive line; Trevor Fowler, junior defensive line; Dezmone DeLeon, senior defensive line; David Mimms, sophomore defensive back; Damian Foreman, sophomore defensive back.
Greenbrier: Cody Turner, junior quarterback; Fisher Wright, senior defensive line; Zach Butler, junior defensive back; Austin Bieda, junior linebacker; Joseph Lazzarro, senior linebacker; Bradley Hodge, senior kicker.
Grovetown: Terrell Hughes, junior running back; Conrad Simpson, sophomore offensive line; Bryce Clary, junior offensive line; Jaylen Lewis, sophomore defensive end; Brandon Scott, junior offensive line; Dewalt Landrum, senior defensive line; Terrence Glenn, junior linebacker; Mickey Exum, senior linebacker; Travon Biggers, senior defensive back/wide receiver.
Harlem: Dontell Frails, freshman running back; Mason McDaniel, sophomore quarterback; Tyler Thigpen, senior running back/linebacker; Jonathan Hartman, senior offensive line; Aaron Hintz, senior offensive line; Austin Ledoux, junior linebacker.
Lakeside: Johnny Leonard, senior linebacker; Alec Lesseberg, junior linebacker; Tanner Brassell, junior defensive back; Nick Allen, senior offensive line; Spencer Plunkett, senior wide receiver.
Augusta Christian: Sean Sweeting, junior fullback; Jordan Harper, senior linebacker
Augusta Prep: Jonathan Long, sophomore defensive back; Whitt Rutland, freshman linebacker.
Coach Of The Year
Jarret Troxler (Lakeside)
In his second year at the helm at Lakeside, Troxler guided the Panthers to the AAAA playoffs despite a 1-4 start to the season. The team finished 6-5 after losing a heartbreaker to Warner Robins in the state playoffs.
The five teams that Lakeside lost to were a combined 55-9. Lakeside also posted a 2-0 record vs. county teams, outscoring Greenbrier and Evans by a combined 51-17.
The Lakeside program is in great hands with one of the best young coaches in the entire area.
Lineman of the Year
Jacob Wright (Lakeside)
Wright was simply a beast for the Panthers. He helped spearhead the highest-scoring offense and best defense in the county. He was First Team All-Region.
Defensive Player of the Year
Thomas Brown (Greenbrier)
This was an extremely tough call. Brown has 15 career interceptions and is a three-time All-County selection. He led the ’Pack and was second in the county with 92 tackles. He also had four interceptions, despite every opponent trying to avoid him. He also shined on offense with 22 catches for 478 yards and seven touchdowns. His touchdowns and 21.7 yards per catch each led the county.
County Player of the Year
Mark Weidenaar (Lakeside)
Weidenaar struggled a little in the first few games of the season. However, as the season went on, Weidenaar got better and better. His grasp of the Panther offense from Game 1 to Game 11 was remarkable. He was the key reason Lakeside was able to win five games in a row down the stretch to lock up a playoff spot.
Weidenaar completed more than 50 percent of his passes and amassed 1,671 yards through the air and tossed 16 touchdowns. He also ran for another 887 yards and 11 more touchdowns.
He engineered an offense that averaged 30 points per game despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the state.
He did all this after battling back from a torn ACL and knee surgery last season.