Evans quarterback Brad Freeman drops back for a pass during practice. Freeman completed 79 of 136 pass attempts for 1,107 yards and seven touchdowns for the Knights this season. Freeman also ran the ball effectively.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Another year of football is in the books, and once again fans in Columbia County had a chance to enjoy some incredible moments.
Like when Evans toppled heavily favored Laney early in the season. The Wildcats advanced all the way to the Georgia Dome, which made the Knights' victory more impressive.
Reggie Rice's second-half performance versus archrival Lakeside also stands out. He put the Wolfpack on his back in their thrilling come-from-behind win. Also in that game, Jimmy Johnson had four first-half touchdown passes for the Panthers.
As you might expect, there were many moments we might like to forget. Greenbrier's loss at Effingham County cost the Wolfpack a playoff berth, and county teams were ravaged by injury this season.
We did not get a chance to see the top two athletes, Carl Burrow and Eugene Rogers, for much of the season because of injury. Burrow played in only two games, and his absence certainly put a damper on Lakeside's promising start.
As always, some key performers stood out from the crowd, and below I recognize those players with The Columbia County News-Times 2004 All-County Football Team.
Evans running back Cheng Ho led the county with 935 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on only 158 carries this season.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
1st TEAM OFFENSE
QB - Brad Freeman, Sr., Evans
Freeman was tremendous for the Knights this season. He completed 79 of 136, passing for 1,107 yards with seven touchdown passes. He also ran the ball effectively when called upon, especially in the Laney victory. However, statistics certainly cannot measure his importance to Evans' success. His decision-making and efficiency at quarterback might have been the Knights' most important ingredients. He is simply a smart kid who gave Evans a chance to win a lot of games.
RB - Cheng Ho, Sr., Evans
Ho had a stellar senior season for the Knights. He led the county with 935 yards rushing on only 158 carries. He also crossed the goal line 12 times. He loves to play, and it shows in his effort each day. He is being recruited by several schools, including Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, Furman, Wofford and Troy.
RB - Tyler Dent, Sr., Greenbrier
Dent might not have gotten the attention some of his teammates received this season, but he was the key to the Wolfpack's offense. He carried the ball 147 times for a team-high 719 yards. He was also a three-year starter for coach Mickey Derrick. He is, pound-for-pound, one of the strongest players in the CSRA. At 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, he is a member of Greenbrier's 900 lb. Club.
FB - Jay Harmon, Fr., ACS
It is not often that a ninth-grader is named to any All-County Team, especially in football. However, Harmon's accomplishments could not go unnoticed. He ran for 528 yards on only 76 carries. That's nearly 7 yards per carry. Not bad for a fullback. He has a very bright future for the Lions.
WR - Ryan Crislip, Sr., Evans
Crislip had a breakout season for the Knights. He was among the CSRA's leaders in receptions with 30 and receiving yards with 510. His 17 yards per catch and four touchdowns also were among the best in the area. He also blocked well for the Knights' terrific ground game. He made several amazing catches this season, none bigger than the game-winner in the fourth quarter against Laney. He is being recruited by Presbyterian and Newberry. Some college will be getting itself a solid football player.
WR - Eugene Rogers, Sr., Greenbrier
Rogers, last year's Player of the Year, missed several games because of a broken hand, but with one arm he would still be on my first team. He is the county's top athlete, and college coaches will be missing out if they let this guy slip through the cracks. Despite his missed time, he still caught 25 passes for more than 300 yards. He also had more than 300 yards rushing on 46 carries. In my opinion he can play Division I football, so the next few months could be interesting. He runs a 4.47 40 and is a member of Greenbrier's 800 lb. Club at only 5-11, 165 pounds. If he had been healthy all season he would have likely been a back-to-back County Player of the Year pick.
TE - Jeremy Larson, Sr., Harlem
Larson was the team leader for a youthful group of Bulldogs this fall. He had a solid season and was a key to Harlem being so competitive in region play. He plays extremely hard and was equally good whether catching passes or blocking. He had 241 yards receiving and three touchdown returns - an interception and two kickoffs - against Richmond Hill.
OL - Nick Parr, Sr., Evans
Parr, a 6-0, 260-pound tackle, graded out at 84 percent for the Knights this season. He can definitely play college football at some level. Parr was the Knights' top offensive lineman.
OL - Tanner Hayden, Sr., Greenbrier
Hayden has tremendous potential. He has the size at 6-3, 285 pounds, to play on the next level. He is a member of the school's 900 lb. Club. He has been a two-year starter for the Wolfpack.
OL - Josh Gibbs, Sr., Evans
Gibbs, despite being 6-3, 275 pounds, has exceptional quickness. He was the Knights' top pass blocker this season. He is being recruited by GMC, Middle Georgia, Newberry and Tusculum.
OL - Cliff Hancock, Sr., Evans
Hancock gives the Knights three First Team offensive linemen. It's no wonder they ran the football so well. Hancock was a long-snap specialist. He was perfect throughout his career on snaps for punts, field goals and extra points. He is undersized at 6-2, 205 pounds, but he was a solid blocker.
OL - Donovan Lowe, Sr., Lakeside
Lowe graded out extremely high for the Panthers. He is a hard worker who has tremendous strength. Only 5-10, 220 pounds, he was one of the county's top run-blockers.
Evan's Ryan Crislip was among the county's best wide receivers with 30 receptions and 510 receiving yards.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lee Banks, Jr., ACS - Banks completed more than 50 percent of his passes for 802 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He also led the Lions with 753 yards rushing and 10 more touchdowns. He could be the county's top quarterback next season.
Kyle Hill, Jr., Lakeside - Hill used his 4.6 speed to become one of the biggest surprises in the county this year. When putting the All-County picks together, I had to find a way to get him on the first team. He averaged nearly 20 yards per catch (16 receptions for 305 yards) and had four touchdown grabs, including three in the first half vs. Greenbrier. He also rushed for 223 yards on 53 carries and had an interception on defense.
Kicker - Reid Tankersley, Sr., Evans
Tankersley was 19 of 20 on extra point attempts and nailed 5 of 6 field goals, including a 43-yarder. He kicked game winners against Lakeside and Effingham County. He is being looked at by Presbyterian, Newberry and Suwanee.
DL - William Lyon, Sr., ACS
Lyon had 63 first hits this season for the Lions. He finished with more than 100 tackles. He was named All-State in the South Carolina Independent Schools Association.
DL - Paul Miller, Jr., Lakeside
Miller was dominant during stretches for Lakeside this season. He finished the season with 77 tackles, including four sacks and 12 tackles for a loss. He will be back next season, along with Chris Drayton, to spearhead the Panthers' defense.
DL - Daniel Landon, Sr., Greenbrier
Landon was a three-year starter for the Wolfpack. He had 65 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss. Landon plays much bigger than his 5-11, 195-pound frame. He also long-snaps.
DL - Bryan Kelle,y Sr., Evans
Kelley was steady all season for Evans. The 6-2, 220-pound senior still managed to have more than 50 tackles at his end position.
LB - Reggie Rice, Jr., Greenbrier
This 5-11, 185-pound junior has already been a two-year starter for Greenbrier. He is also in the 1,000-lb. Club . He had 99 tackles to lead the Wolfpack and rushed for 456 yards on 101 carries on offense.
LB - Reggie Porter, Sr., Lakeside
Porter was the county's top linebacker, in my opinion. He has tremendous lateral speed. At 6-1, 195 pounds, he has a good frame to put on 25 pounds and be a solid college LB. He had 94 tackles this season and is being recruited by Georgia Southern, Furman and Middle Tennessee State.
LB - Toby Brown, Sr., ACS
Brown led the County with 141 tackles this season. Brown had a terrific career for the Lions. He had 64 first hits this season and was named first team All State.
LB - Eric Smith, Jr., Greenbrier
Smith is a tremendously strong player. At 6-0, 205 pounds, he runs the 40 in 4.8 and is a member of the school's 1,000 pound club. He had more than 90 tackles.
DB - Chris Drayton, Jr., Lakeside
Drayton is the top college prospect in the county. At 6-2, 190 pounds, he already has the size to play at the next level. He had 84 tackles this season and four interceptions. He also broke up a ton of potential big plays with his athleticism. He averaged more than 20 yards per kick return and 21.7 yards per punt return.
DB - B.B. Brandenburg, Sr., Lakeside
Despite his small stature (5-9, 142 pounds), he is one of the hardest hitters in the CSRA. He was a three-year starter for Lakeside. He had 56 tackles, including two sacks and five tackles for a loss.
DB - Jay Acree, Sr., Evans
Acree had three interceptions and 40 tackles this season. He also caused and recovered a fumble for Evans.
DB - Taylor Hensley, So., ACS
Hensley picked off four passes this season and returned one for a touchdown. He also caught seven passes for 52 yards this fall.
Punter - Dixon Revell, Sr., Lakeside
Revell was forced to punt only because of an injury. Rather than sulking, he blossomed into the county's best punter. He averaged more than 36 yards per punt.
2nd TEAM OFFENSE
QB - Jimmy Johnson, Sr., Lakeside-795 yards, 10 touchdowns, 288 rushing yards
RB - Gabe Greer, Jr., Harlem-526 yards
Reggie Rice, Jr., Greenbrier-456 yards
FB - Buddy Dymeck, Sr., Evans
WR - Tim Steflik, Sr., Evans
Nolan Belcher, Fr., ACS-285 yards
TE - Austin Greene, Jr., ACS-268 yards
OL - Mark Boiter, Jr., Harlem
Jay Atkins, Jr., Greenbrier
Frank Morris, Sr., ACS
Mike White, Jr., Harlem
Robert Clifton, ACS
Chad Huffman, Sr., Greenbrier
Kicker - Keith Maxwell, Sr., Greenbrier
DL - Edward Curtis, Sr., Greenbrier
Chuck Middleton, Sr., Greenbrier
Jermel Bennett, So., Lakeside
LB - D.J. Ketchup, Jr., Evans
Jonathan Amerson, Sr., Evans
Maurice Williams, So., Harlem
Dillon Quick, Jr., ACS
DB - Travis Azar, Jr., Lakeside
Ben Lawson, Sr., Greenbrier
Paul Maness, Sr., Greenbrier
Charlie Kupar, Sr., Greenbrier
Punter - Ryan Crislip, Sr., Evans
Evans - Shawn Ward, Jr., WR
Greenbrier - Sean Gray, Jr., QB; Cal Morris, Jr., TE
Lakeside - Brian Gross-Bias, Jr., FB-LB; Arthur Marshall, Jr., RB-LB; Blake Goolsby, LB
Harlem - Chris Newsome, Sr., FB; Brendan Gray, So., Ath
ACS - Kyle Meeks, RB; Daniel Hanson, Sr., DL; Clayton Adams, So., LB; James Hawes, Sr.,WR
Coach of the Year - Marty Jackson (Evans)
School officials took a lot of heat from some people when they hired Jackson. However, he did a terrific job with the Knights this fall. They beat the other three county schools to claim king of the mountain rights in Columbia County. And, despite struggling down the stretch, the Knights finished 6-5 and earned their first playoff berth since 2000. Jackson proved himself to all the naysayers.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR - TIE
Brad Freeman (QB), Cheng Ho (RB) and Ryan Crislip (WR/DB/P) - EVANS
I could not choose only one of these guys. They were each essential to the Knights' success this season.
Freeman was rock-solid at quarterback. He was as good as any signal caller in the area when it came to passing efficiency. He completed nearly 65 percent of his passes and made few mistakes.
Ho had some monster games at running back, none bigger than his performance against Greenbrier. He dominated the Wolfpack with 278 yards, including touchdowns of 74 and 76 yards.
Crislip was a jack of all trades for Jackson. He was one of the CSRA's premier receivers and punters this fall. He was just as good in the Knights secondary. These three players stepped up when the Knights needed a big play and were solid each week.
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