Isaiah Mack and Eder Mora have experienced the honor of all-state high school football before.
Nich Bartley is kicking off Christian Heritage’s era of statewide recognition.
Mack, Northwest Whitfield’s standout defensive lineman, and teammate Miguel Villa, a punter, joined Dalton defensive back Mora on the 2013 Georgia Sports Writers Association’s All-State Football Class 4A first team. Bartley, a wide receiver, made the Class A first team as the Lions’ first all-state selection in program history.
Northwest’s Tevin McDaniel made Class 4A’s second team as a defensive back, while Christian Heritage quarterback Trevor Brown and linebacker Evan Townsend garnered honorable mention in Class A. All of the players recognized made The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Football Team this season.
Bartley led all varsity receivers in Murray and Whitfield counties with 70 receptions, 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns. The senior had the most receptions and yards of any receiver in Class A, and according to figures from email newsletter Georgia High School Football Daily, his stats also ranked among the best from players in all six Georgia High School Association classifications.
Christian Heritage finished 8-3, good enough to qualify for the first postseason berth in the program’s two-year history in the GHSA.
“It’s hard to make all-state first team,” Christian Heritage coach Preston Poag said. “That’s a big deal. ... The satisfaction I get is how much he has grown in the years I’ve had him. When he first came to Christian Heritage he was a good player but nowhere near where he is now.
“He’s laying the foundation for some of these younger guys to try and make all-state.”
Both Mack and Mora were all-state second-team selections in 2012. Mack, a senior, was The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Football Player of the Year that season. He also is a back-to-back winner of Region 7-4A’s Defensive Player of the Year, as selected by the region’s coaches.
Mora, a junior, was this year’s All-Area Player of the Year after making the all-area lineup and challenging Mack for the top player honor in 2012. He earned All-Region 7-4A Co-Athlete of the Year honors with McDaniel.
Playing a hybrid of linebacker and free safety, Mora finished 2013 with 159 tackles, an average of 14.5 per game, nine pass breakups, five interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also had 34 carries for 276 yards and three touchdowns from the fullback position and 20 punts for a 40.25 yards-per-punt average.
“There isn’t a more team-centered player than Eder Mora,” Dalton coach Matt Land previously said of Mora, “and when he leaves, there won’t be a more remembered or rewarded player for individual accomplishments as he will be.”
Dalton finished this season 8-3, winning the region championship and shutting out four opponents before losing in the opening round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Northwest finished 9-2 and reached the state playoffs for the first time since 2009, which Mack deserves a lot of credit for. He had 121 tackles (21 for a loss), plus 29 quarterback pressures, four forced fumbles and two sacks. He played in the D.L. Scott Coalition Bowl earlier this month in Atlanta — as did McDaniel and Bartley — and will play Monday in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic in Columbus.
In the games in which Northwest held a large lead, Mack was on the bench for much of the final quarter. Northwest coach Josh Robinson once estimated Mack, who has committed to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, only played the equivalent of seven games this year.
“So when you think of it that way,” Robinson said, “the numbers he put up this season are very impressive. And this was with many teams running plays away from him.”
Villa’s punting average of 43.2 yards on 30 kicks led the area. The senior also kicked for the Bruins, and his 66 points led the area. He made 45 of 49 extra-point attempts and seven of nine field goals, with his longest from 43 yards.
McDaniel accounted for 51 receptions, 897 yards and 10 touchdowns as a wide receiver for the Bruins. He also scored a rushing touchdown. On defense, he made 35 tackles, had six interceptions — and returned two for touchdowns — as well as six pass breakups, four forced fumbles and four recovered fumbles, with two for touchdowns. He accounted for 1,252 yards this season and 15 touchdowns.
He set a school record for the most receiving yards in a year and tied teammate Andy Whisenant for the school record of most receiving touchdowns in a season.
All-Classification Player of the Year went to quarterback Jaquez Parks, who led Griffin to an undefeated season and the Class 4A state title. In Class 4A, senior running back Nick Chubb of Cedartown — which competed in Region 7-4A, as did Dalton, Northwest and Southeast Whitfield — won Offensive Player of the Year.