This was an interesting year on the gridiron. Several teams had to deal with injuries that derailed their season, while some fresh faces hit the scene and provided some excitement, too.
While no school from the county made a deep playoff run, there were still plenty of performers who warrant recognition on this year's All-County Team.
First Team Offense
Quarterback: Ben Wilson, senior, Lakeside: Wilson was thrust into the role of quarterback on every down with the injury to junior Mark Weidenaar. Wilson never backed down from the challenge. He used his arm and legs to carry the load for the Panthers' offense, and despite missing their top athletes on both sides of the ball, he had them in position to make the playoffs in the final week of the season.
He threw for nearly 1,700 yards and rushed for another 678. He also accounted for 14 touchdowns. He was the Region 2-AAAA North Player of the Year.
Running back: Jahvon Hardrick, junior, Greenbrier: Hardrick came into the season a virtual unknown. He ended the year at the top of the running back heap.
He led the county in rushing with 930 yards scored nine touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior was a First Team All-Region performer.
Running back: D.J. Tyson, senior, Grovetown: Tyson was as explosive as any back in the area, capable of taking it to the house on any given play. He finished the season with just under 700 yards rushing and had 11 touchdowns, and he averaged 6.3 yards per carry for the Warriors. He was named Second Team All-Region.
Running back: Jamal Cummings, sophomore, Grovetown: If Tyson was Mr. Outside, Cummings was Mr. Inside for Grovetown. The rugged sophomore ended the season with 10 touchdowns and 637 yards on just 102 carries.
He is primed for a huge couple of seasons in football and on the baseball diamond. He should have a chance to play both sports at the next level.
Wide receiver: Trevor Foreman, senior, Evans: Prior to the season, Foreman was known much more for his exploits on the basketball court, but that all changed this season. He became the go-to receiver for quarterback Glenn Cassedy, and emerged as one of the county's top pass catchers. He caught 36 passes including five for scores. He also managed 49 tackles and two interceptions on defense.
Wide receiver: Matt Rogers, senior, Augusta Christian: Rogers led the county in receptions with 41 for 650 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught four balls from opposing quarterbacks as he became Augusta Christian's all-time leader in career interceptions. He also used his blazing speed as one of the area's more dangerous return men.
Offensive line: Chandler Jones, junior, Evans: The 5-10, 260-pound Jones earned high praise from the Evans coaching staff for his strength and the fact that he graded out at over 80 percent this season. Keep an eye on Jones next season to be one of the area's top linemen.
Offensive line: Matt McAlvin, senior, Greenbrier: At 6-5, 270 pounds, McAlvin was an imposing figure for the 'Pack. He used that size to earn All-Region honors, and was voted the team's best blocker.
Offensive line: John Hardy, senior, Lakeside: Hardy is great in the classroom, which, coupled with his 6-5, 230-pound frame, has made recruiters take notice. He has the potential to be even better at the next level as he continues to develop. He was an All-Region performer for Lakeside this season.
Offensive line: Michael Clifton, junior, Augusta Christian: Clifton is getting attention from some big-time college programs. The 6-3, 245-pound junior is receiving interest from Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Clemson.
He has been a starter since his freshman season, and was a main reason Augusta Christian had one of the top rushing attacks in the South Carolina Independent Schools Association.
Offensive line: Zach Piorkowski, senior, Harlem: Piorkowski opened holes for the Bulldogs' ground attack that was among the region leaders in yards on the ground. His 6-5, 315-pound body made him the man to run behind, and freshman running back Mikey McIntire used his big blocker to rush for more than 700 yards this season.
Athlete: Xavier Crain, senior, Grovetown: Crain did everything coach Rodney Holder asked of him during the past two seasons. He rushed for a team-best 736 yards despite losing185 yards in sacks and negative rushing plays. He also ran for five scores.
His passing numbers were modest, but he did throw for four touchdowns and make several key plays with his arm this season. Also, he was solid at defensive back for the Warriors, and he was a First Team All-Region selection.
Kicker: Jamie Galvin, senior, Evans: There were three or four excellent kickers in the county, but Galvin takes the top spot. He nailed 25 of 27 extra points and booted five field goals for the Knights. For his career, he was 20 of 32 on field goals and 99 of 105 on point-after tries as a three-year starter. Coach Marty Jackson has coached three First Team All-State kickers, but says Galvin is the best he has ever coached.
First Team Defense
Defensive line: Kyle Henderson, senior, Evans: Henderson had 50 tackles this season, including 10.5 for a loss. He got better and better as the season went on, and seemed to be at his best in the big games for the Knights.
Defensive line: Jacob Wright, senior, Lakeside: The 5-11, 235-pound Wright might not have been the biggest defensive lineman I saw this year, but few had a bigger motor. He was unblockable at times this season for the Panthers. He was named to the All-Region squad in 2-AAAA North.
Defensive line: Sean Gaddy, senior, Lakeside: The 6-0, 225-pound Gaddy was a "gamer" for the Panthers. He is just a tough kid who gets after it. The term "hard-nosed" applies to this kid. He was an All-Region performer for coach Jarrett Troxler and the Panthers.
Defensive line: Hunter Hamilton, senior, Harlem: The 6-3, 230-pound Hamilton had 52 tackles this season, including 23 solos. He was named the Bulldogs' top defensive lineman this year, and also did an excellent job on offense as the team's center. In his spare time, he handled the punting duties, too.
Linebacker: Thad Greenaway, senior, Evans: This silent assassin let his play on the field do the talking. He amassed some incredible numbers this season. He led the county with 110 tackles. He also had 10 tackles for loss and five sacks, and he forced three fumbles and recovered two more.
He might be only 5-10 and 180 pounds, but he can suit up for me any day.
Linebacker: Daniel Horuzsko, senior, Greenbrier: Horuzsko was all over the field for the 'Pack this season. He racked up 101 tackles, good for second best in the county. He also had eight tackles for loss on his way to earning team defensive MVP honors and being selected First Team All-Region.
Linebacker: Danny Leonardi, junior, Lakeside: One of two tremendous underclassmen at linebacker whom the Panthers will have back next season, along with sophomore Javeon Brigham, Leonardi is one of those players who always seemed to be around the ball.
Linebacker: Taylor Mills, senior, Harlem: Mills had 63 tackles this season, and was voted Harlem's Defensive MVP. The 5-11, 200-pound headhunter was all over the field and seemed to be in on almost every play for the 'Dogs defense.
Linebacker: Nick Cerasuolo, senior, Augusta Christian: Cerasuolo led the Lions with 94 tackles this season. The 5-11, 225-pound standout is another hard-nosed kid who was not afraid to lay the lumber. He also played fullback for the Lions' offense.
Defensive back: Thomas Brown, junior, Greenbrier: At 6-3, 185 pounds, Brown has the size college coaches love. He also has some big-time talent. He had only one interception this season after leading the county as a sophomore, but that is because teams avoided him whenever they could. He still finished second on the team in tackles and earned First Team All-Region honors. He likely will be a D-I recruit next season.
Defensive back: Tae Miller, senior, Grovetown: Pound-for-pound there was not a harder hitter in the area. Miller laid out some wide receivers this season. Opposing coaches took notice as he earned First Team All-Region honors. He had more than 50 tackles on the season, and tied for the county lead with four interceptions.
Defensive back: Jacob Lane, junior, Lakeside: Like Brown at Greenbrier, Lane is a junior with terrific size and college potential. At 6-1, 195 pounds, he manned the Panther secondary, waiting to pounce. He also came up with three interceptions and returned one for a score. Keep an eye on him during next season's recruiting process.
Athlete: Taylor Camp, senior, Harlem: I usually only have an athlete with the offense, but Camp deserved a first-team nod. He was second on the Bulldogs' team in tackles with more than 50. He also had three sacks, along with an interception that he returned for a score. He also served as the team's kicker.
Punter: Patrick Ward, junior, Evans: This was a tough call. Eric Fogle at Augusta Christian was terrific, but Ward gets top billing. He averaged 36 yards per punt, but more importantly only two of his 26 punts were returned this season.
Christian Croft, running back/defensive back. Had Croft not missed some time due to injury, he would have been on the first team somewhere.
Thomas Banks, running back
Eric Fogle, punter
Will Scott, running back
Jamerson Turner, running back. Another tough call; more than 400 yards rushing and more than 300 yards receiving.
Glenn Cassedy, quarterback. As gutsy as they come.
Ricky Wiebe, wide receiver
Fisher Wright, defensive line
Trey Lawhorn, running back/wide receiver
Damon Stinger, defensive line
Akila Parks, offensive line
Stephen Holden, offensive line
Corey Stone, kicker
Travon Biggers, wide receiver
Hunter Hamilton, offensive line
Mikey McIntire, running back. Only freshman on the list.
Javeon Brigham, linebacker. Only a sophomore, and I had a tough time leaving him off the first team.
Sam Graham, nose guard
Ben Musall, offensive line
Jamal Hadley, offensive line
Johnathan Long, running back
Tony Sigee, wide receiver/athlete
Offensive Player of the Year
Jahvon Hardrick, Greenbrier: This was a tough call. Matt Rogers and Ben Wilson were great. The trio running the ball at Grovetown (Xavier Crain, D.J. Tyson and Jamal Cummings) were good, too, but Hardrick gets my vote. He rushed for nearly 1,000 yards despite opposing defenses knowing he was getting the ball 25 times a game.
With starting quarterback Scott Reeder out for much of the season with an injury, Hardrick made life a little easier for the Greenbrier coaching staff. His rushing numbers allowed the 'Pack to keep their defense off the field as much as possible despite the lack of a passing game. With his size (6-1, 205), I will be stunned if colleges do not start making the trip down Washington Road to check him out.
Defensive Player of Year
Thad Greenaway, Evans: Although there were several good defensive players in the county, as the season went on Greenaway made this call fairly easy. He piled up 110 tackles and was simply a ball-hawk in the truest sense of the word. The last couple of seasons, he was overshadowed by some great defensive players at Evans, but he certainly made his presence known this season.
Coach of the Year
Jarrett Troxler, Lakeside: Troxler was put in a tough spot this year. Replace your mentor, who by the way led the Panthers to the best season in school history last year. On top of that, take out your best player on both sides of the ball -- Mark Weidenaar at quarterback and Kendal Parker at linebacker -- just before the first game.
The fact that he did not pack up and move back to North Carolina says a little something. Not only that, but he made Lakeside a contender for the playoffs, and had tough losses on last-second field goals to perennial powers Thomson and Statesboro.
While we did not have a county team make a deep playoff run, what Troxler did at Lakeside was plenty for me to award him the county Coach of the Year Award.
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