In 2005 the majority of football fans in Columbia County did not have much to cheer about. Greenbrier lost a couple of key games that kept them out of the postseason, Lakeside's early promise fizzled as the year went on and a youthful Evans bunch suffered through one of the worst seasons in school history.
However, the season did have its high points - none higher than Augusta Christian capturing its first-ever state title in football. Also, Harlem had a terrific season at 6-4, and they just missed the playoffs.
Now it is time to recognize those athletes whose performance on the field stood above all others with the 2005 Columbia County News-Times All-County Football Team.
QB - Lee Banks, Sr., Augusta Christian
Banks was the model of consistency all season as he guided the Lions to the state crown. He threw for more than 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns, and ran for over 1,100 yards and 15 more scores. He also averaged nearly 40 yards per punt.
FB - Barry St. John, Jr., Harlem
St. John emerged as one of the county's top ground threats in '05. He amassed nearly 800 yards and eight touchdowns playing for a very balanced team. He was pretty solid at linebacker as well.
TB - Reggie Rice, Sr., Greenbrier
I think most readers are aware of his recent arrest, and because of that this might be a pick that some disagree with. I could not do an accurate All-County Team without Rice. He was the county's top talent this season and simply took over a number of games for the Pack (with three 200-yard games, including more than 200 against Class A State Champion Lincoln County).
RB-WR - Kyle Hill, Sr., Lakeside
I added this extra spot because I felt like Kyle Hill deserved a spot on the first team. He played wide receiver, running back and defensive back and returned kicks for the Panthers. He's just a solid player and has great speed. He is looking at Valdosta State.
WR - Josh Whitaker, Jr., Augusta Christian
Whitaker led the area in touchdown grabs with 10. He also averaged more than 20 yards per catch with 26 catches for 526 yards. He seemed to come up big in the key games as well. He has a chance to put together quite a body of work in several sports before he is through at ACS.
WR - Nolan Belcher, Soph., Augusta Christian
Only midway through his sophomore season and he has already helped ACS win state championships in baseball and football. He led the county in catches this season with 34 grabs for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns.
TE - Austin Greene, Sr., Augusta Christian
When the Lions got in the red zone, Greene came alive. He was second in the county with eight touchdown receptions and caught 19 passes for more than 300 yards.
C - Jonathan Harnish, Sr., Evans
Harnish emerged as the consistent leader of the Knights line this season. He graded out at an impressive 87 percent. He seemed to be on his game each week.
OL - Jay Adkins, Sr., Greenbrier
Adkins is closing out a solid career at Greenbrier. He was a three-year starter for the Pack. An All-Region performer in 2004, Adkins has the size (6-2, 275 pounds) to play college ball next season.
OL - Robert Clifton, Sr., Augusta Christian
Clifton anchored a Lions offensive line that helped produce more than 35 points per contest and averaged more than seven yards per carry on the ground.
OL - Mike White, Sr., Harlem
If I were selecting the top lineman in the county, White would likely be my choice. The 280-pound tackle opened holes for one of the top rushing attacks in the CSRA.
OL - Mark Boiter, Sr., Harlem
Along with White, Boiter helped spearhead a potent ground attack for the Bulldogs. He will be difficult for Jimmie Lewis to replace.
Athlete - Brendan Gray, Jr., Harlem
Gray has a chance to be a special player at Harlem next season. His junior campaign was nothing to sneeze at. As the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, he rushed for just under 800 yards and nine touchdowns. He also picked off five passes on defense.
K - Alden Fisher, Sr., Augusta Christian
The fact that he did not pass out from all the extra point attempts is amazing in itself. He nailed a whopping 58 of 61 PATs and was good on almost half his field goals.
First Team Defense
DE - Jordan Yates, Sr., Augusta Christian
Yates transferred to ACS this season and what a pick-up he turned out to be. He was simply dominant at times for the Lions. He had an area-best 12 quarterback sacks, and he also had an astonishing 28 tackles for loss.
DE - Andrew Durham, Sr., Greenbrier
Durham was not a household name before the season, but he quickly established himself as a solid defensive end. He had 36 tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries this season.
DT - Alex Ngyun, Sr., Lakeside
This 300-pound monster clogged the middle for the Panther defense. He finished with 57 tackles despite being double-teamed virtually every game.
DT - Brandon Bennett, Sr., Harlem
Bennett was tremendous for the Dogs this Fall. He used his 6-3, 235-pound frame to harass opposing offensives. He is one of those guys whose motor never stops running.
LB - Erik Smith, Sr., Greenbrier
Pound for pound Smith may be the strongest player in the area. He is in Greenbrier's 1,000 Pound Club (combining his bench press, power clean, and squat). As a senior, Smith totaled 115 tackles and four sacks. He was also one of the top fullbacks in the area.
LB - Paul Miller, Sr., Lakeside
Like Smith, Miller has terrific strength. He had 97 tackles and seven quarterback sacks in 2005. He will being playing on Saturdays next season after being courted by Navy, Air Force and Vanderbilt.
LB - Maurice Dorsey, Jr., Harlem
"Mo" will be highly recruited next season. He has ideal size at 6-2, 225 pounds, and he also put up solid numbers this season. He led the Dogs with 80 tackles this fall. He also had three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
LB - D.J. Ketchup, Sr., Evans
Ketchup never lets up or takes a play off. He was the defensive leader for Evans this season. This 5-9, 213 pounder amassed 91 tackles this year.
S - Chris Drayton, Sr., Lakeside
Drayton has a ton of raw talent and has a big upside. He was a three-year starter for the Panthers and has more than 200 tackles and eight interceptions for his carreer. At 6-2, 200 pounds he has the perfect size to play safety in college, which is what he will do in Lexington, Ky., having committed to the Wildcats in November.
S - Brad Meister, Sr., Augusta Christian
I know that Meister played linebacker, but I had to find a spot for him on the first team. He played a major role in the Lions run to the title this fall. So we moved him to safety. Meister piled up 120 tackles, and he also had more than 400 yards rushing with a nearly 10 yard per carry average.
CB - Charlie Kupar, Sr., Greenbrier
Kupar is the type of player you cheer for. He's only 5-6, 170 pounds, but that did not stop him from 47 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
CB - Will Wright, Jr., Augusta Christian
Wright was in the "Wright" place eight times for interceptions this season. He also totaled 57 tackles for the Lions.
P - Kevin Millward, Soph, Evans
Millward was also the quarterback at Evans and, despite the team's struggles, never let that part of his game affect his punting. He was a landslide winner in my book. He averaged 41 yards per punt, but that only scratches the surface on how solid he was this season. Only 10 of his 44 punts were returnable, and of those only two were for more than five yards. He also pinned the Knights opponent inside there own 10 a whopping 17 times.
Player of the Year
Lee Banks, Sr., QB, Augusta Christian
Banks was sensational for the Lions this season. He directed one of the highest-scoring offenses in Georgia or South Carolina. Along the way he amassed more than 1,500 yards passing, 20 touchdown tosses and completed more than 70 percent of his pass attempts. On top of that he was picked off only four times. He also rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 15 more scores. At 5-10 and 170 pounds, he might not have the ideal size for a quarterback prospect, but some small school somewhere will take a shot on him, and when they do I'm sure he will not disappoint them.
Coach of the Year
Bruce Lane, Augusta Christian
This choice was actually closer than you may think. I gave serious consideration to Harlem's Jimmie Lewis before choosing Lane. What Lane has done with the athletic programs in his short time at ACS is amazing. The school is the reigning state champ in baseball and football, and the program seems to be producing a good number of special athletes each season.
All I can say is that the higher-ups at ACS should simply give him a blank contract and let Lane fill in the terms of the deal. Not only do they having a winning coach, but they have a coach who has great character, cares about his athletes and is a terrific role model for young men to be around. That state titles did not hurt, either.
Tyler Bourdo, safety
Frank Morris, offensive line
Jay Harmon, full back
Kyle Meeks, tail back
Clayton Adams, defensive line
Travis Cerasuelo, defensive line
Dillon Quick, linebacker
Taylor Hensley, defensive back
James Cullen, fullback
Junior Coley, tailback
Greg Martin, cornerback
Matt Stark, safety
Josh McDaniel, athlete
Sean Gray, quarterback
LeShawn Butler, running back
Wiliam Bishop, defensive end
Freddie Jones, cornerback
Michael Baura, safety
Bryan Sangster, safety
Matt King, wide receiver
Cal Morris, tight end
Rick Stahman, offensive line
Brad Coody, offensive line
Josh Lewer, center
Travis Azar, quarterback/cornerback
Jermel Bennett, defensive end
Ryan Shuler, offensive line
Phillip Shackelford, punter
Carlton Jackson, defensive tackle
Andrew Hedman, offensive line/linebacker
Ben Reynolds, offensive/defensive line
Jay Krenz, linebacker, DE
Trey Dove, wide receiver, linebacker
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