It's time to say goodbye to another football season by naming our annual All-County Football Team and award winners.
It was another great year with four Fayette teams in the state playoffs. As always, it was tough to narrow down the best of the best.
Some years the award winners are more obvious. Some years it's a tougher pick. This year's County Player of the Year was a pretty clear choice. You'd be hard pressed to find any player more valuable to his team than Andrew Johnson was to McIntosh and it showed as he was nominated by each of the coaches who faced him on the field. He sparked the team to a school-record eight wins and a spot in the postseason. Johnson was a dual-threat for the Chiefs, throwing for over 2,200 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushing for 829 yards and 12 more scores.
As one opposing coach said of him, "That quarterback Johnson is one of the best we've seen in years."
Over at Sandy Creek, they've got so many awesome athletes you could've picked one of several for the Offensive Player of the Year. In the end, senior quarterback Cole Garvin got the nod. It's just another accolade in a tremendous career. Garvin completed 66 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,160 yards, 18 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.
Whitewater's Colton Clemons is another one who earned the respect of the opposition in bringing home Defensive Player of the Year honors. Clemons bruised opposing players from the linebacker spot, spearheading another playoff push for the Wildcats. Clemons totaled 130 tackles with 13 sacks and three interceptions.
McIntosh's Lee Belknap was a unanimous choice for Coach of the Year. Belknap led the Chiefs to heights previously unseen at the school. In just his third year at the helm, Belknap led his team to the best season in school history and the first ever state playoff berth.
The All-County First Team is a truly awesome collection of talent.
Andrew Johnson is under center as the top quarterback in a close race.
The running back competition was even tighter. Sandy Creek's dynamic duo of Eric Swinney and Delvin Weems are joined by John Smith of Starr's Mill. Swinney rushed for 1,289 yards and 24 touchdowns while adding 343 yards and four more scores receiving. Weems ran for 1,233 yards and 21 scores while average nine yards a carry. Smith returned from a major injury that cost him all last season with a flourish, piling up 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Sandy Creek's Demarre Kitt is back at the front of the wide receiving corp along with another repeat offender in McIntosh's Trey Walters. Fayette County's Ashton Jackson rounds out the trio. Kitt, a Clemson commit, hauled in 46 passes for 878 yards (19 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns. Walters racked up 633 yards receiving and three scores. Jackson caught 32 balls for 605 yards (18 yards per catch) and six touchdowns.
The offensive line features players from five different schools. Fayette County's DeMarkus Trice is joined by Jason Akins of Starr's Mill, Ryan Warrior of Sandy Creek, Dylan Crozier of Whitewater, and Travis Bertke of McIntosh.
The other side of the line is anchored by a pair of Patriots in Chris Williams and Javonte Lain, along with Whitewater's Matt Ogle and McIntosh's Jim O'Neill. The massive Williams, an Ole Miss commit, was the focus of the opposition's line every game, but still wreaked havoc. Lain racked up 54 tackles and five sacks. Ogle piled up 107 tackles and four sacks with one pick six. O'Neill scrapped his way to 108 tackles and three sacks.
Colton Clemons is joined in the linebacking corp by his teammate Russell Welch, Sandy Creek's Micah Solomon, and McIntosh's Jake Carney. Welch piled up 118 tackles with eight sacks. Solomon led the Patriots in tackles with 97. Carney registered 118 tackles and two interceptions.
The defensive backfield features Sandy Creek's Brian Miller, Fayette County's Robert Easterwood, Whitewater's Kyle Dugger, and McIntosh's Josh Reynolds. When opponents were crazy enough to test him, Miller was ready, snaring six interceptions. Easterwood was one of the Tigers best weapons as a junior. Dugger intercepted three passes for the Wildcats. Reynolds anchored the safety spot for the Chiefs and piled up 102 tackles and two interceptions.
McIntosh takes the top two specialists with kicker Nick Alvey and punter Charlie Goedtke. Alvey was seven of nine on field goals and 47 of 49 on extra points. Goedtke averaged 41 yards a punt with a long of 71.
Certain players can't be narrowed down to one position so they've earned a spot as simply an 'Athlete.' Our Lady of Mercy's duo of Jameson Vest and Christian Coleman get a spot along with Whitewater's Josh Alexander. Vest was the Bobcats quarterback and one of the area's best kickers. Vest threw for almost 1,500 yards with seven touchdowns and added another 778 yards and eight scores on the ground. He also booted five goals with a long of 47 yards and handled the punting duties. Coleman spent time as a receiver and runner while also returning kicks, piling up over 800 all purpose yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, Coleman was a top cornerback with one interception and 58 tackles. Alexander racked up 72 tackles on defense, 281 yards receiving and four scores on offense, and added 201 yards as a punt returner for the Wildcats.
The All-County Second Team is another batch of great players.
Cole Garvin leads the way at quarterback.
Whitewater's Christian Wafford and Victor Nguyen of McIntosh are the running backs. Wafford ran for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns. Nguyen picked up 1,300 all purpose yards with 14 touchdowns, including seven in one game.
Sandy Creek's Justin Sumpter, McIntosh's Duke Kinamon, and Our Lady of Mercy's Albert Wilson make up the receivers. Sumpter hauled in 27 passes for 423 yards and four scores. Kinamon picked up six scores and 422 yards through the air. Wilson caught 31 passes for 331 yards and two scores while adding 108 yards and two scores on the ground and 64 tackles on defense.
The offensive line features a duo from Sandy Creek in Jeremy Penn and Chandler Tuitt and another from Whitewater in Alex Neal and Coey Gates. Jack Steinwedel of McIntosh rounds out the line.
The defensive line has a pair of Panthers in Luke Ossanna and Sam Joines. Lynix Branch of Our Lady of Mercy and Derek Bertke join the crew.
The linebacking corp features Sandy Creek's Khari Lain, Whitewater's Kyle Brown, Starr's Mill's Melvin Broomfield, and McIntosh's Patrick Trianna. Lain tallied 77 tackles for the Patriots. Brown piled up 69 tackles with two sacks and one interception. Broomfield had 48 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks, and one touchdown. Trianna racked up 117 tackles and three sacks.
The defensive backfield is led by Gerren Smith, Jr. and Mitchell Ray of Starr's Mill. They are joined by Gabriel Arnold of Sandy Creek and Delfayeo Matthews of Our Lady of Mercy. Smith, the defensive MVP for Starr's Mill, picked up 103 tackles with two interceptions and a touchdown. Ray tallied 61 tackles with one interception and three sacks. Arnold had 69 sacks and five interceptions, including three in one quarter in the Patriots' quarterfinal matchup with Griffin. Matthews had 29 tackles along with one pick six.
Lorenzo Broadwater of Sandy Creek earns the nod as kicker after hitting all four of his field goal attempts and making 57 of 58 extra point tries.
The athletes on the second team are Whitewater's Jay Ashley and Fayette County's Vincent Bey. Ashley, the Wildcat quarterback, threw for 1,345 yards and ten touchdowns while running for 384 yards and seven scores while also doing a good job as the team's punter. Bey filled in wherever needed for the Tigers, but shine the brightest as a bruising hitter on the defense.
Plenty of talent is let deserving of an Honorable Mention.
Sandy Creek is represented by Korey Banks, Joseph Alexander, EJ Hurley, Coleman Taylor, Broderick Allen, Trent Sellers, Will Harper, Josh Green, and Trenton Rigby.
Whitewater is represented by Josh Martinez, Amon Crumpton, and Christian Winslett.
McIntosh is represented by Freddy Botet, Will Nase, Will McKinney, and Josh Espinosa.
Starr's Mill is represented by Kyle Moseley, Seth White, Terence Harper, and Garrett Houston.
Fayette County is represented by Christian Ingalls, James Yates, and Jollyce Myrick.
Our Lady of Mercy is represented by Jordan Thomas, Kyle Wilkins, Alex Horlak, Keagan Jordan, Michael Bowden, and Jay Johnson.