Evans might have suffered through a tough season, but there were a few bright spots. One was the performance of sophomore punter Kevin Millward, who also started at quarterback and was a no-brainer choice as the punter for the All-County Team.
Teams simply did not return his punts in 2005. Apparently, we in Columbia County are not the only ones to take notice, because Millward, despite being a 10th-grader, earned First-Team All-State Honors in AAAA by the Georgia Sports Writers Association.
For the season, Millward averaged more than 41 yards per punt. He also pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line an astonishing 17 times out of 44 punts. Opponents managed to return only 10 of his punts for an average of less than two yards per return, which gave him a net average of more than 39 yards per kick. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has quite a future ahead of him.
Joining Millward in earning statewide acclaim were defensive back Chris Drayton, of Lakeside, Harlem offensive lineman Mike White and Greenbrier linebacker Erick Smith. Each were chosen as Honorable Mentions in their respective classifications.
Drayton, who has verbally committed to play in the SEC with the University of Kentucky, had to deal with a position change on offense, but did not let that take away from his prowess in the defensive secondary. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, he has the prototypical size that recruiters covet at the safety position. He also has terrific speed. Kentucky is getting an extremely talented young man in Drayton.
Smith had a stellar career at Greenbrier. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound linebacker paced the team in tackles and was the team's leader for the past two seasons. He has incredible strength and used that to gobble up opposing ball carriers week in and week out.
For the Harlem Bulldogs, their offense hinges on good play up front, and this season they got it - especially from senior Mike White. He used his 6-foot-3, 280-pound frame to clear a path for one of the area's top ground attacks. A college that takes a chance on White will be getting a diamond in the rough.
There might have been some confusion on this year's All-State Team. Here is a brief explanation for those who might have seen two lists of players.
The Official Georgia Sportswriters Association All-State Team featured Millward, Drayton and Smith, but White was omitted. The head of the sportswriters, Stan Autrey, also produces a separate All-State Team for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Autrey takes the GSWA Team and tweaks the list slightly to make it his own. On his list, which appeared in the AJC, White was named Honorable Mention, while Drayton and Smith did not make the list.
Confusing enough? I agree, but all four county honorees should be extremely proud of this accomplishment. For years it seems as though this area has gotten the short end of the stick when it came to statewide recognition. It is good to see some players get their due.
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