2017 All-County football team released
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
A profound 2017 football season for Shelby County has come to a sad close. Many accomplishments took shape over the last 117 days from several different teams.
The county saw two deep playoff runs from Thompson (semifinals) and Briarwood (state championship) before both saw their season come up short of each’s goal beginning the season. Both the Warriors and Lions were able to achieve several historical marks, however, that each team will remember for the rest of their lives.
The Vincent Yellow Jackets also made strides of big proportions this season going from 1-19 the last two seasons to 5-5 in 2017; while the Evangel Lightning repeated as ACSC State Champs to claim the county’s only state championship in football.
Those are just a few of the highlights from a season with so many storylines and special players that deserve to be glorified for all they accomplished on the gridiron. Below we break down the All-County First and Second Team offenses and defenses, as well as a list of honorable mention honorees for both sides of the ball.
First Team Offense
Quarterback: Taulia Tagovailoa, junior, Thompson. An obvious choice for Player of the Year in Shelby County. Tagovailoa was the difference between last year’s 5-5 Thompson team and this year’s 12-1 team that went all the way to the semifinals of the playoffs and made. He was 264-423 passing for 3,823 yards, which should be good enough to pass John Parker Wilson for third all-time in AHSAA history. He also threw for 35 touchdowns.
Quarterback: Cornelius Brown, junior, Calera. This year’s team will feature two quarterbacks per offenses because of the success at that position. Brown got a first team nod for his athleticism. He ran for 128 yards and one touchdown on 19 attempts, while passing for 2,334 yards and 25 touchdowns thanks to completing 167-281 passing attempts in 12 games.
Running Back: Chris Hardie, junior, Vincent. Despite missing the last three games with injury, he finished as the leading rusher in the county by running for 1,170 yards on just 139 attempts. He also added 14 touchdowns and had a season-high of 355 yards in one game as well as several other games of 200-plus yards.
Running Back: Shad Byrd, junior, Thompson. Finished second in the county in rushing with 1,164 rushing yards. Byrd had 1,342 all-purpose yards and 21 total touchdowns, 17 of which came on the ground.
Offensive Line: Garrett Bell, senior, Briarwood. An Austin Peay commit, Bell was the best linemen on one of the best teams. He paved the way for Luke Prewett and J.R. Tran-Reno.
Offensive Line: Jayson Jones, sophomore, Calera. Jones is starting to rack up SEC offers as a sophomore and was a solid player on both the offensive and defensive line this season.
Offensive Line: Landon Guy, senior, Cornerstone. Possibly the best all-around offensive lineman in Shelby County.
Offensive Line: Amari Kight, junior, Thompson. Kight has been named to the First Team for the second consecutive year and is one of the best linemen in the state.
Offensive Line: Will Pierce, senior, Pelham. Pierce led a fierce Pelham offensive attack with 71 pancake blocks on the O-line.
Tight End: Carson Bobo, senior, Oak Mountain. One of the best true tight ends I have seen at the high school level. Bobo ended his senior season with 42 receptions for 612 yards and nine touchdowns, while also blocking at an elite level.
Wide Receiver: Ahmad Edwards, senior, Thompson. Arguably one of the best wide receivers the state of Alabama has ever seen. He set a state record for receptions with 118 yards. He ended the year with 1,464 yards receiving, which is fifth in AHSAA history and an average of 112.6 yards per game, and 13 touchdowns.
Wide Receiver: Mo Edwards, senior, Thompson. While Ahmad’s numbers were crazy, cousin Mo Edwards was arguably just as impressive. He ended the year with 1,074 yards and 11 touchdowns, but on just 58 receptions. That’s an average of 18.5 yards per catch, which is better than Ahmad’s 12.4 yards per catch.
Wide Receiver: Carson Eddy, senior, Briarwood. Eddy was right up with both of the Edwards cousins thanks to his 1,123 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns on 77 receptions this year. That’s an average of 14.6 yards per catch.
Athlete: J.R. Tran-Reno, junior, Briarwood. Not enough can be said about Tran-Reno. He is seen all over the field, which led to 1,696 All-Purpose yards. He had 1,030 yards rushing, 543 yards receiving, 123 yards passing and 28 total touchdowns. Tran-Reno also handled all of the punting for the state runner-ups and picked up two interceptions defensively.
First Team Defense
Defensive Line: John Lloyd, senior, Evangel. He may compete in 8-man football, but seeing Lloyd in person, he was easily one of the best linemen in the county this season. He ended the year with 96 tackles, 11 sacks and 10 tackles for loss for the ACSC State Champions.
Defensive Line: Cedric Tooson, junior, Spain Park. Tooson ended the season with 87 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and eight sacks for the Jaguars.
Defensive Line: Mackie McNeal, senior, Thompson. McNeal had an impressive 87 tackles this year, which was one of the best numbers in the county. He also added 2 sacks and one interception.
Linebacker: Jalen Rayam, senior, Thompson. A definite player of the year candidate and one of three Thompson linebackers that were considered for Player of the Year. Rayam led the county with a jaw-dropping 143 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, which were all team highs. He added four interceptions, which tied for the team lead.
Linebacker: Gabe Russell, senior, Briarwood. The team captain had 121 total tackles, 11.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss this season. He also had 11 QB hurries, two forced fumbles, one pass break up and one blocked kick.
Linebacker: Jackson Murphy, senior, Oak Mountain. Murphy had a chance to break records with the pace he was setting in 2017. In just four games before tearing an ACL, Murphy led his team with 52 total tackles. He ended up with five tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in that time span too.
Linebacker: Will Conner, junior, Thompson. Finished just behind Rayam with 137 total tackles for not just second on the team, but in the county as well. He had 16 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Linebacker: KJ Robertson, senior, Thompson. Robertson also had an unbelievable year with 126 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions.
Defensive Back: Cade Dickinson, junior, Briarwood. Dickinson ended the season with 30 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. He also had a team-high and an AHSAA county-high five interceptions.
Defensive Back: Carson Donnelly, senior, Briarwood. He ended the year with 66 total tackles from the safety position. He also had 5.5 tackles for loss, three recovered fumbles, eight passes broken up, three interceptions and one touchdown.
Defensive Back: Myles Brown, senior, Thompson. Brown had an impressive 96 tackles from the secondary. He also added five tackles for loss and tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
Kicker: Greg Blue, junior, Pelham. Blue was 38-40 this season on PATs and went 4-6 on field goals with a long of 42 yards. Also had 31 punts for 1,049 yards. Helped Pelham recover four onside kicks.
Second Team Offense
Quarterback: Michael Hiers, senior, Briarwood. Easily one of the best players in the county going 179-260 for 2,672 yards and 22 touchdowns with eight interceptions through the air. He also added 230 rushing yards for eight additional touchdowns in 15 games.
Quarterback: Braxton Barker, senior, Spain Park. In 11 games, Barker threw for 2,410 yards and 19 touchdowns completing 175 of his 279 passing attempts. He also ran for 180 yards and an additional three touchdowns.
Running Back: D’arie Johnson, senior, Spain Park. Johnson ended the year with 985 rushing yards and 250 receiving yards. He also posted 14 touchdowns on the ground and one through the air.
Running Back: Dee Mickens, senior, Calera. If Mickens hadn’t gotten injured this year, he would have been a 1,000-yard back. He ended the year with 825 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Running Back: Nic Blackburn, senior, Pelham. Blackburn and Mickens were too close together to keep one off the team, hence the extra running back slot. Blackburn had 803 yards and five touchdowns, while also dealing with injuries.
Offensive Line: J.T. Youngblood, sophomore, Vincent. Just a sophomore, but the leader up front for Chris Hardie this year.
Offensive Line: Jacob Feenker, senior, Oak Mountain. Head coach Cris Bell said he’s the best center he’s seen at Oak Mountain and it showed on the field.
Offensive Line: Dontavius Mayfield, senior, Shelby County. Mayfield gave up zero sacks in 8.5 games this year and had 49 pancake blocks to lead the Wildcats.
Offensive Line: Abdul Deeb, senior, Spain Park. The best graded offensive lineman on Spain Park’s team. Integral part of blocking for Johnson and Barker.
Offensive Line: Alex Pearman, senior, Thompson. Flew under the radar this year, but was consistent and great at blocking for the best offense in the state.
Wide Receiver: Jalen McMillan, senior, Spain Park. McMillan had a solid year with 850 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 50 receptions. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Wide Receiver: Zavien Kelley, senior, Vincent. Ended his senior year with a 218-yard performance. Had 45 receptions for 851 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2017.
Wide Receiver: Coleby Henderson, senior, Evangel. Had 45 receptions for 901 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense, while recording a county-high six interceptions on defense.
Wide Receiver: Justin Stuckey, senior, Helena. Stuckey ended the season with 45 receptions for 855 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s an average of 19 yards per catch as Helena’s best playmaker.
Athlete: Jake Blankenship, junior, Cornerstone. Before his injury at the midway point of the season, Blankenship was averaging four touchdowns per game. He ended the year with 22 touchdowns and 1,626 all-purpose yards.
Second Team Defense
Defensive Line: Demetrius Smith, senior, Montevallo. Had 74 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries
Defensive Line: Dalton Brooks, junior, Briarwood. Ended the year with 49 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Also added 14 quarterback hurries.
Defensive Line: Patrick Blythe, senior, Briarwood. Totaled 26 tackles, five sacks, two tackles for loss, two recovered fumbles and 12 quarterback hurries.
Defensive Line: Blake Hester, senior, Spain Park. Posted 60 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Linebacker: Ryan Jewell, junior, Pelham. In just six games, Jewell led the Panthers with 75 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He also added two sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Linebacker: Dyson Edwards, senior, Calera. Led Calera with 94 tackles, 14 of which were for a loss. Also had 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and three quarterback hurries.
Linebacker: Mark Hand, junior, Briarwood. Had 132 tackles last year and posted 74 more in 2017 through the quarterfinals of the playoffs, including 9.5 tackles for loss. He also forced four fumbles, blocked two kicks, had one interception, four pass break ups and scored two touchdowns.
Linebacker: Tyler Olds, junior, Montevallo. Olds ended the year with 84 tackles, while posting six tackles for loss and four sacks. He added four fumble recoveries.
Defensive Back: Braxton Hall, junior, Spain Park. Had 34 total tackles and three interceptions.
Defensive Back: Zach Nelson, senior, Oak Mountain. Had 30 total tackles and a team-high four interceptions.
Defensive Back: Trent Yowe, sophomore, Calera. Posted an impressive 79 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss to lead the team. Recovered two fumbles, had two interceptions and had five quarterback hurries as well.
Defensive Back: Andrew Sherrod, senior, Briarwood. Sherrod had 47 total tackles, including an impressive 14 for loss. He also had two interceptions, two blocked kicks, two fumble recoveries, 12 pass break ups and three touchdowns.
Kicker: Cole Star, senior, Spain Park. Star was 39-41 on PATs and 10-10 on field goals this year.
Honorable Mention Offense
Hudson Hartsfield, Briarwood. Trent Howard, Briarwood. Blake Jones, Calera. Quindarius Crews, Calera. Chandler Smith, Calera. Demerius Woodson, Calera. Kendrick Simpson, Chelsea. Rhett Garrett, Cornerstone. Lew Dale, Coosa Valley. Chase Carlee, Coosa Valley. Kamden Smith, Evangel. Dionte Tolbert, Helena. Jay Sullens, Montevallo, Davion Gilbert, Montevallo. Tavarius Holman, Montevallo. Jordan Davis, Oak Mountain. Edward Gipson, Pelham. Brandon Sledge, Pelham. Matt Rye, Pelham. Jayme Simmons, Spain Park. MJ Rodgers, Spain Park. Dusty Davis, Vincent.
Honorable Mention Defense
Caleb Buckhannon, Calera. Jermaine Wilson, Calera. Hunter Offord, Chelsea. Dylan Seabolt, Chelsea. Warner Wright, Chelsea. Ben Perryman, Cornerstone. Hunter Green, Evangel. Avery Anfield, Montevallo. Ben Wilke, Oak Mountain. Robert Cook, Spain Park. Jalen Bustamante, Thompson. David Douglas, Thompson. Grant Bivins, Thompson. Eric Mizell, Thompson. Robbie Albright, Vincent.