December 21, 2013

Brown’s big year brings league honors

Lions QB named top offensive star

As Christian Heritage School’s starting quarterback for the third year in a row, Trevor Brown was likely to be central to the story told by the Lions this season one way or another.

By putting up prolific numbers and showing the maturity and experience expected of him, Brown made sure there were far more good moments than bad for the Lions in 2013 — and his teammates aren’t the only ones who will remember what he accomplished.

Brown led the way as one of four Lions selected by league coaches to the All-Sub-region 6A-A first team — he was joined by senior wide receivers Nich Bartley and Will Fischer as well as senior linebacker Austin Lowe — as he earned the nod as the sub-region’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Brown completed 161 of 283 attempts this season as he passed for 2,629 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading the Lions to an 8-3 record and their first appearance in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs. He also averaged 4.9 yard per carry and rushed for a pair of touchdowns. Christian Heritage lost to sub-region rival Darlington in the opening round of the Class A private school bracket in the postseason.

Brown’s top target was Bartley, whose numbers ranked among the top receivers in the state in all classifications. Bartley had 70 catches for 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns, and the success of Brown and Bartley was intertwined, with each helping the other.

“It came down to him and Nich,” in the race for the sub-region’s top offensive honor, said Lions coach Preston Poag. “I am proud for him. Nich gets a lot of the press and sometimes you don’t hear that much about (Brown). He has done so much with the mental aspect of the game. He had a lot of confidence this year and bulked up a little bit and got that confidence that he carried on the field with him.”

This was the second season of GHSA competition for the Lions, who had previously enjoyed gridiron success in the much smaller Glory For Christ Football League. Christian Heritage took a step forward after going 5-5 in 2012, and Bartley’s breakout year played a big part in that progress.

“One thing with Nich is that his stats were tops in all classifications,” Poag said. “Those numbers were up there with every player in the state. What a year. He was our go-to guy all year when we needed a play. He made the clutch plays all year long. You look at his stats, and they just grab you. He is just a guy that gets out there and works hard and catches one for 60 yards for a touchdown.”

Fischer’s numbers — he had 44 catches for 634 yards and four touchdowns — were also impressive, even though Bartley’s eye-popping stats might have made the Lions’ No. 2 receiver harder to appreciate. But Poag knows Fischer contributed even when the ball was thrown to Bartley.

“His numbers were good, too, but he just got overshadowed a little,” Poag said. “But having two good receivers helps you out. You couldn’t put two guys on Nich, and if they tried to do it, then Will was going to hurt them.

“And he is a physical guy that was so good down the field. A lot of the touchdowns for Nich came because of something that Will did. All of the coaches in the region love Will. That is two guys that we are really going to have to search to replace.”

Lowe was the Lions’ lone defensive selection to the first team. A linebacker, he finished with 106 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. But he also helped on offense, churning out 629 yards and nine touchdowns on 106 carries as a fullback.

“Most people think of him at fullback, but he had more than 100 tackles ... He didn’t come off of the field at all,” Poag said. “He was a three-year starter, and he didn’t want to play defense at first. The last two years, he has been one of our most dependable and best-conditioned athletes.”

Earning second-team honors for the Lions were seniors Harrison Kranzlein (offensive lineman), Brian Pierce (defensive back) and Evan Townsend (linebacker), as well as junior Spencer Robbins (defensive lineman).

Darlington linebacker Brooks Busby was the 6A-A Defensive Player of the Year and his coach, Tommy Atha, was the sub-region’s Coach of the Year. The Tigers also had the most selections to the first team, with 11, and the most total selections, with 14.

Christian Heritage’s eight selections were third behind Darlington — which beat the Lions 18-14 in the regular season at Christian Heritage and 41-17 in the state playoffs in Rome — and the nine for Trion, which the Lions beat 24-20 to finish second in the sub-region.

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