With another high school football season in the books, it's time to honor Columbia County's top performers during the 2001 campaign.
With some input from area coaches and from some personal observation of the prep gridiron action, hopefully we have tabbed an accurate team of all-stars.
2001 All-county High School Football Team
Quarterback: Domonique Brown - Harlem senior. Rushed for 1,040 yards and scored 10 touchdowns; threw for 393 yards and five more touchdowns.
Harlem High School's Domonique Brown has been named Columbia County's 2001 All-County Player of the Year
Fullback: Nick Wandless - Greenbrier senior. Rushed for 518 yards and seven touchdowns on 110 carries; caught more than 20 passes, with two touchdown receptions.
Running back: Joel Whinghter - Augusta Christian senior. Totaled 2,376 yards on the ground and tallied 29 touchdowns; definitely Division I material.
Running back: Kelvin Sturgis - Harlem junior. Averaged more than nine yards per carry to top the 600-yard rushing mark, with seven touchdowns on offense, plus three kickoff returns for scores and a defensive touchdown; should be sought by college programs after he's done with the Dogs.
Wide receiver: Steven Rogers - Lakeside junior. Led area receivers with 60 catches, which was close to 40 more than anyone else; wracked up 889 yards and scored eight times and is one of the county's most talented performers.
Wide receiver: Russell Carter - Greenbrier senior. Caught 22 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns.
Tight end: Chris Jennell - Evans senior. Easily the county's top tight end, tallying 25 receptions for 262 yards and four scores; the No. 1 target for Knights' quarterback Travis Clark.
Center: John Stafford - Greenbrier senior. Leader of the Pack's offensive front.
Guard: Matt Sharpe - Evans senior. A tough customer in the trenches and a true leader for the youthful Knights.
Guard: Sam Pitts - Augusta Christian sophomore. Anchored an offensive line which AC coach Steve Price called the best in school history.
Tackle: Tyler Holley - Harlem senior. Teamed with Travis Reese, Tim Gagner and Rob Lewis to form the best blocking unit in the county; is being recruited by several small colleges.
Tackle: Travis Reese - Harlem senior. As with his teammate Holley, he is being courted by college programs; his strength and agility helped spark Harlem's triple-option offense.
Place-kicker: Ben Tankersley - Greenbrier junior. Was 16 for 16 on extra-point kicks and nailed nine of 13 field goal attempts, including three boots against both Evans and Lakeside, two Wolfpack wins.
Kickoff return: Cole Rabun - Augusta Christian sophomore. Averaged 26.4 yards per return and contributed 683 yards rushing at tailback.
Punt return: Steve Rogers - Lakeside junior. A threat to break a long run on every return.
Honorable mentions: Quarterback - Klay Koester (Lakeside junior) and Travis Clark (Evans sophomore); Running back - Tae Dorsey (Harlem junior), Larry Crawford (Harlem junior), Jon Lee (Evans senior), Fernando Mickens (Evans senior), Matt Nixon (Lakeside senior); Wide receiver - Tanis Maynor (Evans junior), Graham Posey (Greenbrier senior); Offensive line - Aaron Price (Augusta Christian senior), Tim Gagner (Harlem senior), Rob Lewis (Harlem senior), Rashad Dunn (Greenbrier sophomore), Adi Filipovic (Lakeside senior), Adam Frye (Lakeside senior), Ryan Forrester (Greenbrier senior), Scott Henchel (Greenbrier junior), Trey Pitts (Augusta Christian junior). Kick returns - Kelvin Sturgis (Harlem junior).
Defensive end: Blaine Carter - Lakeside senior. As a senior, the three-year starter had nearly 60 tackles, notched seven sacks and caused three fumbles; was as dominant as any defender in the county.
Defensive end: Chad Hester - Greenbrier senior. One of the Pack's team captains, he totaled 44 tackles, with five sacks and two interceptions.
Defensive tackle: David Weitz - Greenbrier senior. Had an unbelievable year; came out of nowhere and punished opponents with 56 tackles and 10 sacks.
Linebacker: Josh Wilmoth - Harlem junior. Season featured 70 tackles, four fumble recoveries and three interceptions, numbers which have drawn interest from college scouts.
Linebacker: Jon Lee - Evans senior. A coach's dream, great on both sides of the ball; finished with 82 tackles.
Linebacker: Ernest Powell - Evans senior. Made switch from defensive end, and followed up a 10-sack junior season with 124 tackles, including a mind-boggling 90 solo tackles.
Linebacker: Nick Wandless - Greenbrier senior. Compiled 79 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks; one of only two players to make all-county on both offense and defense.
Cornerback: Tim Camp - Harlem sophomore. Newcomer finished with 31 tackles, two interceptions and plenty of big plays.
Cornerback: Kelvin Sturgis - Harlem junior. Hard-hitting secondary player, totaled 43 tackles, picked off three passes and recovered four fumbles; just a junior, but already drawing interest from Vanderbilt, James Madison and West Georgia College.
Safety: Brant Evans - Lakeside senior. Led the Panthers with 72 tackles and added two interceptions; also played some at quarterback and wide receiver.
Safety: Kevin Ward - Harlem senior. Didn't get as much attention as some of his teammates, but was a key to the Dogs' defense, with 52 tackles and two pickoffs.
Punter: Aaron Sanders - Augusta Christian senior. Averaged 36 yards per punthis longest punt was 58 yards.
Kickoffs: Brett Hilton - Lakeside senior. Best in the area at placing kickoffs in the end zone.
Honorable mention: Defensive backs - Tae Dorsey (Harlem junior), Jason Campbell (Lakeside senior), Latron Luke (Greenbrier junior), Fitz Wiggleton (Greenbrier junior); Linebackers - Scott Wandless (Greenbrier sophomore), Hunt Revell (Lakeside senior), Brad Carson (Lakeside senior), Creswell Curtis (Greenbrier senior), Larry Crawford (Harlem junior); Defensive line - Brent Edwards (Greenbrier junior), Vic Ferguson (Greenbrier senior), Adam Greene - Augusta Christian senior), Travis Reese (Harlem senior), Ryan Meagher (Lakeside senior), Lee Reynolds (Lakeside senior); Punter - Alan Griffin (Harlem junior).
Top offensive player: Joel Whinghter (6-1, 195 pound tailback). Whinghter wrapped up a sensational prep career by rewriting the AC record books. As a senior, he ran for 2,376 yards on 296 carries and broke his own single-season record by scoring 29 touchdowns. It will be a long time before any other runningback compiles nearly 5,000 yards rushing in two seasons. Whignhter is being courted by SEC and ACC college programs and definitely will be playing on Saturdays next fall.
Top defensive player: David Weitz (5-9, 185 pound defensive lineman). Weitz edges out Evans' Ernest Powell for defensive player of the year honors. The Greenbrier senior isn't big for a tackle, but he powered his way to the top - his 58 tackles and 10 sacks don't indicate how dominant he really was this season. Weitz might have played his last football game, considering college scouts look for bigger players, but he sure was fun to watch.
Player of the Year: Domonique Brown (6-2, 190 pound quarterback). The Harlem star had plenty of help, as the Dogs clearly had the best offensive personnel in the county this year; however, there is no doubt who sparked the team's triple offense. Brown was a four-year starter at quarterback and capped his career with his best season. While he might not get statewide recognition, he deserves it - if Brown isn't voted all-region quarterback in 4-AAA there should be a criminal investigation.
Coach of the Year: Jimmie Lewis, Harlem High School. For the second straight season, Lewis guided Harlem to the Class AAA state playoffs. When this year's seniors were freshmen, times were tough at Harlem; wins, even with a nonregion schedule, were hard to come by. Also, a large group of upperclassmen quit the team in 1998, which forced Lewis to start a bunch of freshmen. The move worked, as Harlem had its best season in decades. Lewis might be known primarily as a baseball coach, but he's proven to be a great gridiron general.
Ashley Brown's radio program can be heard from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday on News-Talk Sports 1630 AM. His e-mail address is AB@WRDWAM.com.
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