Shelby County’s fifth annual All-Sports Team named

Published 2:57 pm Sunday, July 2, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Before we shift focus into the 2023-2024 school year, it’s time to take one last look back at the athletes who made this past sports calendar so special across Shelby County.

Another year that featured historic marks with several team and individual state championships, the 2022-2023 sports season brought plenty of excitement and highlighted some of the best athletes in the state right here in Shelby County. 

Now, the best of the best from the year are honored on the fifth annual All-Sports Team, which features an elite group of the county’s 20 best athletes from the 2022-2023 season on a first and second team. 

First Team

Cady McPhail, runner, Chelsea. This year’s Female Athlete of the Year in Shelby County, McPhail was a star at Chelsea. Capping off a stellar career with the Hornets, she finished her senior season with three cross country wins in seven events, 11 indoor track and field wins in 13 events and 12 outdoor track and field wins in 15 events. She ended up winning the Class 7A State Championship in the 800-meter run and 1,600-meter run during both the indoor and outdoor season, while she added a 3,200-meter win during the indoor season to sweep the distance runs and total five state championships during her senior season. 

Matthew Heiberger, two-sport star, Oak Mountain. The Male Athlete of the Year in Shelby County, Matthew Heiberger was a standout on both the court and the diamond during his senior season. Not only was he named the Player of the Year in the county for basketball thanks to 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, but he earned an All-County First Team nod to end the baseball season after finishing the season with an ERA of 1.63. He only gave up nine earned runs this season, while he also averaged .347 at the plate with 25 hits and 17 RBIs.

Chase Kyes, golf, Spain Park. Still just a sophomore, Kyes left his mark on this season with a dominant trek through the spring as one of the top junior golfers in the country. He won the Class 7A individual state championship after getting redemption against Jack Mitchell of James Clemens, who he fell to a year earlier. Kyes totaled 12 under-par rounds during the season with five tournament victories and several co-medalist finishes.

Kierson McDonald, soccer, Oak Mountain. The 2023 Shelby County Player of the Year was an absolute force to be reckoned with this season. McDonald’s stats tell the story of her impact on Oak Mountain’s offense with 31 goals and 17 assists in 2023. In addition to the local postseason success, McDonald has been named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year winner in girls soccer as the top female player in the state. 

Om Shrestha, soccer, Oak Mountain. Shrestha, the 2023 Player of the Year for boys soccer in Shelby County, racked up 15 goals on just 26 shots and three assists during the season. His influence on Oak Mountain’s offense was unmistakable, and he earned spots on the North-South All-Star Team, First Team All-7A, Second Team All-State and First Team All-Metro. 

Peter Woods, football, Thompson. This year’s run-away winner for Player of the Year in Shelby County, Woods was a dominant force up front for the Warriors. Beating double teams with every team’s focus on him, he still totaled 89 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 11 sacks to help win his fourth consecutive championship at Thompson. An early enrollee at Clemson, you’ll see him suited up for the Tigers.

Laci Gogan, basketball, Pelham. The Player of the Year in Shelby County for the third year in a row, Gogan finished her senior season averaging 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. She led the county with 74 made 3-pointers and finished her career with 2,034 points. Her success this season helped Pelham reach the Elite Eight for the second year in a row, while she was key in leading the Panthers to the Sweet 16 or higher each of the last three years, including a trip to the Final Four last year. 

Presley Lively, softball, Helena. This year’s Hitter of the Year in Shelby County, Lively led the county in one of the biggest hitting category with a jaw-dropping 76 hits. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she also led the county with a batting average of .535 and led the county by more than 30 stolen bases with a total of 67 stolen bases in 71 attempts. In addition to those numbers, she led the county with 65 runs scored and finished with 31 RBIs. Lively totaled seven doubles, finished second in the county with five triples and added two home runs. 

Braylyn Farrington, two-sport star, Calera. A star in many aspects, Farrington is beloved by the Calera community and rightfully so after his efforts on the football field and as a track star. He was named to the All-County First Team in football after totaling 848 yards and nine touchdowns on 48 receptions with four kick returns for a touchdown. As a track star, he won the indoor state championship in 400-meter dash and finished with 10 total top three finishes in 10 events.

Garrett Murphy, two-sport star, Oak Mountain. Another two-sport start to make two different All-County First Teams, Murphy totaled 112 solo tackles and 54 assisted tackles during his senior season with the Eagles, including 12 for a loss and two sacks with three interceptions, while he was one of the top defenders in the county soccer wise as well. On the pitch, he totaled four goals and two assists, but was key in the defense posting 11 shutouts.

Second Team

Christopher Vizzina, football, Briarwood. A four-year starter at Briarwood, Vizzina faced one of his most difficult schedules yet this season and his clutch play was more than evident. Not only did he lead several game-winning drives early in the season, but he finished with 1,828 passing yards and 341 rushing yards with a combined 27 touchdowns. The four-star recruit is now headed to Clemson.

Ella Reed, softball, Spain Park. The county’s leader in wins and strikeouts this season, Reed finished with 20 wins in the circle and was the only player to finish with more than 200 strikeouts at 225. She held an ERA of 1.78 in 165 1/3 innings pitched and led the county with six shutouts.

Landon Alton, baseball, Thompson. A big reason Thompson made it to the semifinals of the Class 7A playoffs, Alton took down some of the best bats and teams in the state. He finished the year 9-1 with a 1.36 ERA and struck out 76 batters, which finished third in the county. With the second most innings pitched in the county at 72, he allowed just 14 earned runs 47 hits with one shutout. 

Cole Edwards, baseball, Spain Park. The county’s Hitter of the Year for the second year in a row, Edwards finished inside the top six of every major hitting category this season. Taking on some of the best teams in the state in the highest classification, he finished first in the county with 17 doubles, second in RBIs with 43, third in hits with 48, a tie for fourth in home runs with six and in sixth with a batting average of .407. He also finished third in the county with 21 stolen bases in 22 attempts and finished with 25 walks.  

Zac Carlisle, two-sport star, Vincent. One of the county’s top overall athletes this year, Carlisle finished the baseball season with a 7-2 record on the mound and a 1.54 ERA, while he totaled 55 strikeouts and gave up 11 earned runs and 32 hits. He also shined at the plate as one of the county’s best hitters this season, finishing with a .480 average and totaling 47 hits, which was third most in the county. On the football field, he totaled 611 receiving yards with 15 touchdowns on 35 receptions, while he finished with 48 tackles and four interceptions defensively. 

Gavin Monk, two-sport star, Montevallo. A year after suffering heartbreak on the wrestling mat, Monk responded by winning Montevallo’s first-ever individual state championship in 2023. In addition to his success as one of the county’s top wrestlers, he was also a key member of the Montevallo football team.

Devan Moss, two-sport star, Oak Mountain. A key member of the Oak Mountain football team, Moss really shined during the track season for the Eagles. In the 100-meter dash, he was the state’s fastest athlete, winning seven different times, including the 2023 Class 7A State Championship. He also finished first in the 100-meter dash in the AHSAA State Heptathlon and Decathlon competition with a win in the high jump portion of that competition as well.

Bradley Franklin, runner, Thompson. During the outdoor track and field season, Franklin competed in 22 events. Of those 22, he won 19. Let that sink in. He went on to win the Class 7A State Championship in the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles, his two signature events, during the outdoor season, while he also had a strong indoor season featuring seven wins, including the Class 7A State Championship in the 60-meter hurdles. 

Aiden Poe, two-sport star, Vincent. One of the top young arms in the state for baseball, Poe finished his sophomore season with an 11-2 record to lead the county in wins with 11. He also led the county with 123 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.87. He has continued that success into the summer, while he is also a top football player for the Yellow Jackets as well.

Taylor Leib, two-sport star, Briarwood. A two-sport athlete as a basketball player and soccer star, Leib was one of the top soccer players in the state this season. She finished the season by leading the county with 36 goals and added 19 assists this season. Both of those numbers topped eventual Gatorade Player of the Year winner Kierson McDonald as Leib is a young star in the making for the Lions as sophomore.