The 2-AAAAA Football All Region team has been announced and Columbia County has a major presence. Despite fielding only one of the four playoff teams from the region, 19 players earned all-region honors.
Lakeside High School had four first team selections and was the only county team with players on the first team defensive squad (it had three). Junior standout Jonathan Edwards was chosen as a first team wide receiver while linebackers JaVeon Brigham and Alec Leeseberg were joined by defensive back Rashad Roundtree as first team defensive players. Evans punter Jacob Rizner was a first team choice as was Grovetown’s Juwan Biggers, who made the team for his terrific all-around play. Rizner also was named to the second team as a wide receiver.
While it is great to see players receive accolades, the All-Region selections also show some issues facing Columbia County football. Columbia County schools represent four of the eight teams in the region, yet there was not a single Columbia County player selected to the first team offensive or defensive line.
Also, if you take out Lakeside, there were only two players chosen first team on either side of the ball. The other three AAAAA schools (Evans, Greenbrier and Grovetown) made up 37.5 percent of the region. Based on pure numbers, they should have had 10 players on the squad. Obviously you cannot go purely by the numbers, but there is a big difference between 10 and two. Also, there was not a single Columbia County quarterback on either team.
Our schools are stuck in an extremely tough football region with Warner Robins and Northside Warner Robins. However, if we ever plan to compete for state titles, in football and basketball, these are the teams we have to beat.
Our schools are already dominant in spring sports, and we have some outstanding softball programs. This year’s All-Region picks, however, illustrate that we have a long way to go in football.
There is good news. We have some tremendous young coaches like Jarret Troxler (Lakeside) and Rodney Holder (Evans). Also, there are more kids playing youth football in the county than ever before. The success of CAYFA’s spring football program and the continued work of the Columbia County Recreation Department will pay dividends in the future. Hopefully we will see these numbers improve soon. For us to compete statewide in football and basketball it is going to take a commitment from school board members, principals and community leaders.
Education is the first and certainly most important role of our schools. That said, success on the field brings more fans to the games and more financial support in the community, which helps the entire school.