All-County football team named for 2021 season

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, December 9, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Let me start by saying, wow! This is my sixth year putting together the All-County football team, and this was by far the most talented group of players to sift through.

It all comes off a year in which a county record nine teams made the playoffs this year, while the Thompson Warriors went on to win their third consecutive state championship.

The success can be credited to an array of different people, with coaches, players, school administrators, parents, the communities and so many more playing a part in making Shelby County a mecca of talent.

But with the All-County team, we take an inside look at the best players from the 2021 season, honoring them for all of their hard work.

First team offense

Quarterback: Conner Harrell, senior, Thompson. Last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year and Class 7A Back of the Year finished his senior season with 3,126 passing yards, completing 163 of his 232 passes with 47 touchdowns. He also added 405 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground behind 55 carries.

Running back: Joseph Anderson, senior, Montevallo. The title of most rushing yards in a single season in Shelby County’s history is now held by Anderson. He broke the record this year with 2,346 yards on the ground, which is also 38th all time in state history. He reached that mark on 243 carries and added 29 touchdowns.

Running back: Jordan Washington, sophomore, Helena. With two years left, Washington will become one of the top players in the county after breaking Helena’s rushing record as a sophomore. He totaled 1,606 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground this season behind 226 carries. He also had eight receptions for 129 yards and an additional touchdown.

Offensive line: Stanton Ramil, junior, Thompson. The team’s leader on the offensive line, Ramil totaled 13 pancake blocks and earned several Division I offers this season due to his impressive play for an offense that totaled more than 5,000 yards of offense.

Offensive line: Cole Hall, senior, Thompson. The center for the Warriors, Hall was an integral part of an offense that averaged near 50 points per game this season. He totaled 11 pancake blocks.

Offensive line: Alex Moorer, senior, Briarwood. The leader of a very consistent and impressive Briarwood offensive line, Moorer finished off a three-year career with 45 pancake blocks this season to pave the way for a team that rushed for 1,994 yards.

Offensive line: Nic Rigdon, senior, Oak Mountain. There is no questioning Rigdon’s performance for the Eagles. He graded no less than 86 percent this season and paved the way for Evan Smith’s more than 2,000 yards combined in the running and passing game.

Offensive line: Jackson Davenport, senior, Pelham. Part of arguably the best overall offensive line in the county this season, Davenport totaled a county-high 75 pancake blocks 

Receiver: Kobe Prentice, senior, Calera. One of the toughest players to tackle in the state this season, Prentice totaled 1,231 receiving yards on 69 catches with 18 touchdowns. All that with a first-year quarterback starting as a junior. He also totaled seven carries for 55 yards and a touchdown and played some defensively. The Alabama commit was the county’s second-leading receiver this season and one of the top five in the state.

Receiver: Ryan Peppins, senior, Thompson. The county’s leading receiver and one of the top receivers in the state this season, Peppins totaled 1,564 and 23 touchdowns on 80 receptions. He had 1,239 yards before Thompson’s semifinal matchup with Hoover and finished strong after that. He totaled 121 yards against Hoover and 204 yards in state championship game, earning the MVP award of the game. This year’s yardage ranks as the ninth most in state history.

Receiver: Jaylen Ward, senior, Thompson. The senior receiver for the Warriors finished the season with 862 yards on 37 catches as part of a nice one-two punch out wide. He totaled 11 touchdowns as well.

Tight end: J.C. Sivley, senior, Helena. Sivley was a true tight end this year for the Huskies, doing what was needed for the team. That, however, didn’t prevent him from being the fourth-leading receiver in the county with 792 yards and eight touchdowns on 46 catches.

Athlete: Evan Smith, senior, Oak Mountain. The special four-year career of Evan Smith has come to an end, but the senior went out with a bang. During his final season, he totaled 1,110 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 98 carries in a completely new offense, while he also added 1,184 passing yards on 83-of-153 passing with 11 touchdowns.

Athlete: Justin Pegues, senior, Thompson. Easily one of the best athletes in the state this season, Pegues played running back and receiver, while also returning punts and kickoffs. He totaled 664 receiving yards with two touchdowns on 25 catches and added 571 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 69 carries. He also averaged 21.5 yards per return on special teams.

Kicker: Braxton Sumpter, senior, Spain Park. The county’s top kicker this season, Sumpter finished the year 10-11 on extra points, 8-11 on kicks, including one from 50-plus and five from 30 plus. He also averaged 37.1 yards per punt and 42 yards per kick. 

First team defense

Defensive line: Peter Woods, junior, Thompson. One of two dominant forces on the defensive front for Thompson, Woods closed his junior season with 51 solo tackles, 40 assisted tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 25 sacks.

Defensive line: Gavin Nelson, senior, Oak Mountain. Nelson tied for the second the most solo tackles of any lineman in the county this season with 61, while he also finished with 35 assists, 15 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Defensive line: Connor Pugh, senior, Helena. One of the top tacklers in the county this year with 99 off the end, Pugh also recorded 19 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a leader of the Huskies’ defense. 

Linebacker: Jeremiah Alexander, senior, Thompson. The edge rusher and Alabama commit finished his final season with the Warriors totaling 54 solo tackles, 29 assisted tackles, 28 tackles for loss and 24 sacks with one pick-six.

Linebacker: Jahki Mullen, senior, Oak Mountain. One of the top linebackers in the county and a big reason for the success of Oak Mountain’s defense this season, Mullen finished with 73 solo tackles, 34 assisted tackles, 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks. 

Linebacker: Joseph Roberto, sophomore, Helena. Roberto put together a jaw-dropping sophomore season as one of the state’s best linebackers. He finished the season with a county-high 138 total tackles, including 19 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. 

Linebacker: Michael Banks-Mason, junior, Calera. The county’s second-leading tackler, Banks-Mason totaled 134.5 tackles, including 112 solo tackles. He also had the fourth most tackles for loss with 20 and totaled two sacks and two interceptions.

Defensive back: Garrett Murphy, junior, Oak Mountain. Another top athlete in the county who played everywhere, Murphy totaled 89 solo tackles and 39 assisted tackles as a hybrid linebacker/defensive back this season. He also finished with 16 tackles for loss, two sacks and two interceptions. 

Defensive back: Tony Mitchell, junior, Thompson. A hard-hitting, lockdown defensive back, Mitchell passed the eye test. He was the best defensive back to watch in person this year, and most offenses tried to stay away from him because of it. He had eight pass breakups, two interceptions, 28 solo tackles, 18 assisted tackles and four tackles for loss.

Defensive back: Tre’Quon Fegans, senior, Thompson. Fegans capitalized on people staying away from Mitchell this season and made several big-time plays. He totaled 30.5 tackles, four tackles for loss and tied for third in the county with three interceptions. He also totaled 10 pass breakups, one of the highest marks in the state.

Defensive back: Corbitt Grundhoefer, senior, Oak Mountain. Grundhoefer tied as the county’s leader in interceptions this season with five. He also totaled 57 solo tackles, 27 assisted tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack.

Second team offense

Quarterback: Christopher Vizzina, junior, Briarwood. Heralded as one of the country’s top junior prospects this season, Vizzina made game-changing plays all year for the Lions. He finished the season 147-of-209 passing with 2,247 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also added 130 carries for 649 yards and an additional 16 touchdowns. He will be one of the state’s top returning players next season.

Running back: Gabe Gamble, senior, Pelham. The county’s fourth-leading rusher, Gamble totaled 1,306 yards during his final season with nine touchdowns on 201 carries. 

Running back: Luke Reebals, senior, Briarwood. Not only did Reebals total 845 rushing yards with 18 touchdowns on 136 carries, he also finished as one of the top receiving backs in the county with 315 yards and two touchdowns on 29 receptions.

Offensive line: Caleb Newell, senior, Pelham. Another one of Pelham’s impressive linemen, Newell finished second on the team with 70 pancake blocks this season.

Offensive line: BJ Maxena, senior, Pelham. Maxena was just behind both Davenport and Newell with 65 pancake blocks this season and was the final of a three-headed monster of seniors up front for the Panthers.

Offensive line: Jaylon Hudson, junior, Montevallo. The best offensive lineman for the Bulldogs this season, Hudson paved the way for the county’s all-time leading rusher in Joseph Anderson. Hudson was crucial in his success.

Offensive line: Evan Swain, senior, Vincent. Swain finished the season with 35 pancake blocks and was the leader of an offensive line that blocked for nearly 3,000 yards on the ground. He graded 95 percent for the year.

Offensive line: Ethan Vickers, senior, Chelsea. Vickers graded 87 percent for the year against one of the most difficult schedules of any team in the 6A classification.

Receiver: Braylyn Farrington, junior, Calera. One of the county’s fastest players, Farrington finished the season with 43 receptions for 624 and five touchdowns. He also added 411 kick return yards and two kickoffs returned for a touchdown.

Receiver: Jay Butler, senior, Briarwood. Butler only notched 26 catches this season, but he made the most of them thanks to 527 yards and six touchdowns for the Lions. 26 for 527 and 6 TDs.

Receiver: Ethan Hammett, senior, Oak Mountain. Hammett was one of the top targets for Smith this season, totaling 53 receptions for 510 yards and six touchdowns. 

Tight end: Cooper Griffin, senior, Chelsea. The fifth-leading receiver in the county this season, Griffin finished the year with 640 yards and four touchdowns on 51 receptions for the Hornets.

Athlete: Jermarey Lawson, senior, Vincent. Lawson totaled the third most yards among running backs in the county this season with 1,409 yards and 16 touchdowns on 136 carries. He also added 122 yards receiving on six receptions with three touchdowns and totaled 130 kick return yards with a touchdown. He finished with 1,661 all-purpose yards.

Athlete: Kial Cottingham, senior, Montevallo. Moving to quarterback this year, Cottingham didn’t get to dominate one position like he did last year, but the senior still made his impact at several. He finished with 385 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 34 carries, totaled 608 passing yards and 10 touchdowns on 42-of-75 passing, had one reception for 38 yards and finished second in the county with four interceptions.

Kicker: Trevor Hardy, senior, Thompson. Hardy finished the season with a punting average of 39.3 and a kicking average of 37.3. He also finished 78-of-82 on PATs and made three of his four field goals with a long of 44 yards.

Second team defense 

Defensive line: Zach Smith, senior, Oak Mountain. Smith’s 18 tackles for loss were among the most in the county this year, while he also added four sacks and 63.5 tackles. 

Defensive line: Joel Logan, senior, Helena. With 21 tackles for loss and 14 sacks, Logan finished third in both categories behind Woods and Alexander. He also totaled 61 tackles this season opposite of Pugh. 

Defensive line: Cole Dennis, senior, Montevallo. The best lineman for the Bulldogs, Dennis finished the season with 14 tackles for loss and six sacks for an improved defense. He totaled 77.5 tackles this season.

Linebacker: Jax Van Zandt, senior, Thompson. With Alexander playing more of an edge position, Van Zandt was the leader at linebacker. He totaled 15 tackles for loss and four sacks as part of 60 total tackles.

Linebacker: Nate Riddle, senior, Thompson. Riddle finished just behind Van Zandt with 44 total tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and four sacks.

Linebacker: Carter Lehman, junior, Oak Mountain. Lehman’s 10 tackles for loss were big in earning him a spot on the All-County team, while he totaled 85 tackles and had two sacks for one of the best Oak Mountain defenses in school history.

Linebacker: Peyton Woodall, senior, Helena. One of the county’s leading tacklers, Woodall finished the year with 108 total tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Defensive back: Wesley Head, senior, Calera. Head tied for the county lead in interceptions this season with five, matching Grundhoeffer’s number at Oak Mountain, while he also totaled 48.5 tackles with one tackle for loss.

Defensive back: Reece Garner, senior, Briarwood. The leading tackler for the Lions this year with 88 total tackles, Garner posted two interceptions with six pass breakups. He also had 3.5 tackles for loss and was a strong tackler in space.

Defensive back: Jamal Miles, junior, Pelham. Miles passed the eye test as much as anyone did in the secondary this year. He was tasked with guarding the opposing top receiver and rarely gave up big plays. He finished the season with five pass breakups, one interception and 30 total tackles.

Defensive back: Tray Youngblood, junior, Vincent. Youngblood was an athlete that played the entire game on both sides of the ball, but his four interceptions in the secondary tied for the second most this season. He also totaled 1,032 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns. 

Honorable mention: Haddon Stubbs, Briarwood. Holden Patterson, Briarwood. Miller Sutbblefield, Briarwood. Harrison Clemmer, Briarwood. Ethan Anderson, Briarwood. Grey Reebals, Briarwood. Preston Stokes, Calera. Christ Cotton, Calera. Matthew Tucker, Calera. CJ Richardson, Calera. Mason Green, Calera. Michael Benson, Calera. Garyson Maddox, Chelsea. Emanuel Waller, Chelsea. Kyler Simmons, Chelsea. Brady Clements, Chelsea. Hayden Garrison, Chelsea. Connor Riderhoff, Chelsea. Justin Yunke, Helena. Mac Turner, Helena. Dylan Campbell, Montevallo. Jamion Prentice, Montevallo. Mattox Vines, Oak Mountain. Will Lankford, Pelham. Darius Copeland, Pelham. Jylen Tate, Pelham. Brayden Marlowe, Pelham. Seth Branham, Pelham. Jake Fox, Pelham. Cohen Lee, Pelham. Connor Aderholt, Shelby County. Christian Chapman, Shelby County. Bradley Horton, Shelby County. Jecoreyan Butler, Shelby County. Zamir Farris, Spain Park. Evan Smallwood, Spain Park. Ethan Gutowski, Spain Park. Caldwell Bussey, Spain Park. Pierson Cole, Spain Park. Seth Hampton, Thompson. Brandon Franklin, Thompson. Zack Wright, Vincent. Easton Fields, Vincent.