Sports

December 24, 2012

All-Area football team: Isaiah Mack made himself heard with his play (VIDEO)

(Continued)

He finished his senior season with 34 receptions for 663 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging nearly 20 yards per reception. He had 10 rushes (mainly on reverses) for 161 yards, and had 24 returns (both punts and kickoffs) for 498 yards and a touchdown. Also, in certain situations, he was a fifth defensive back for the Dalton secondary.

A 5-10, 172-pound senior, Dale was a first-team selection to the All-Region 7-4A team as well. This is Dale’s second straight selection to the all-area team.

O’Shea Hill, Northwest, WR: In the world of the spread offense, versatility isn’t just a luxury, it is a necessity. Hill was certainly the definition of versatile.

For the Bruins, Hill was equal parts running back and wide receiver, and he also moonlighted as a punter. He led the area in number of receptions, easily outdistancing the competition with 56 catches for 831 yards and 10 touchdowns. Whether it was a tunnel screen or a deep middle post, there seemingly wasn’t a route that Hill couldn’t exploit, and he was also a good down-field blocker in the running attack. On the ground, he had 28 carries for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

As a punter, he averaged 38.4 yards per kick, and the 6-4, 225-pound senior was a first-team All-Region 7-4A selection. A standout basketball player as well, this is Hill’s first all-area selection.

Will Erwin, Dalton, OL: With Dalton’s offense primarily a running team, the tight end position isn’t as glamorous as it may be in other offenses, but that didn’t mean the Cats didn’t use Erwin in a lot of different ways.

While he only had six receptions for 92 yards, he was a key part of Dalton’s air attack, usually drawing safeties to his side of the field to cover the middle of the field. In the running game, the Cats ran to his side of the field 60 percent of the time, and the 6-3, 247-pounder always delivered.

“As a blocker, he is a guy where there has been just as much interest in him being a tackle,” Land said. “In the Carver game, he was going against guys who had a lot of stars beside their name, and Will didn’t get whipped. He was eating pancakes.”

Erwin will play this week in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star Game in Columbus. This is his first all-area selection after earning honorable mention last season.

Harrison Kranzlein, Christian Heritage, OL: For a balanced, power I-formation offense, the junior played a key role opening holes for the Lions’ running backs.

Kranzlein’s average blocking grade for a game was 90 percent, the highest for Christian Heritage’s blockers. He also had 12 pancake blocks as Brown passed for 1,602 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Lions also rushed for more than 1,000 yards.

And he was another who played both sides of the ball, too. On the defensive line, he tallied 57 tackles.

An honorable mention last year, this is his first all-area appearance.

Jake Roberts, Dalton, OL: For Roberts, it was in his blood to finally make his mark on the Dalton offensive line. His father, Steve, was a Parade All-American at Dalton before moving onto Georgia, and his son is following in Dad’s footsteps by being a successful Cats lineman.

Roberts, a 6-2, 255-pound junior, led the team in pancakes this year with 26, and he has never graded below 90 percent in his two years as a starter. He was a first-team selection to the All-Region 7-4A team, and he was a major reason why Dalton’s offense rolled up nearly 3,000 yards rushing.

“He is a true lineman. He is born and bred into it, and he has that lineman mentality,” Land said. “He is going to get down and dirty, and we looked to him this year as a leader in the emotion of our offensive line. He will be relied on heavily, and we will need to see where he can serve our team best.”

This is Roberts’ first all-area selection after earning honorable mention last season.

Wesley Ross, North Murray, OL: When an offense rushes for more than 2,500 yards and passes for more than 1,500 yards, something special is going on.

It also means more than two or three guys are doing their job.

Playmakers make plays, but they can’t do anything without the guys up front paving holes and keeping the pass rushers away. Ross was the best North Murray had at doing that.

The senior graded 85 percent for the year, allowed just one sack and recorded 17 pancakes for a line that cleared the path for an offense that averaged 34.4 points per game.

This is his first all-area appearance, and he’s also the first North Murray offensive lineman to make the team.

B.J. Rowland, Dalton, OL: In the world of offensive linemen, Rowland was nothing if not one word — consistent. A three-year starter and team captain, the senior never graded below 90 percent during his career at Dalton, and he never graded below 95 percent during his senior season.

“He was one of the few blockers that when all of the coaches got together to chose the all-region team, he was unanimous,” Land said. “He was just a dadgum good center. He could make all of the blocks — scoops, combo, chip, trap, pull, get on a linebacker. In my 20 years, he is one of the most complete offensive linemen I have ever seen.”

Not an overwhelming physical presence at 6 feet, 251 pounds, Rowland was one of the few centers to pull, and he ended the year with 22 pancake blocks. This is his first all-area selection after earning honorable mention last season.

Rhett Harper, Southeast, ATH: Harper has been one of the most versatile athletes in the area as a three-sport standout for the Raiders. During his freshman and sophomore years, he was selected to the all-area team as a wide receiver, but he is on this year’s team for showing a little more of that versatility.

At wide receiver, the 6-1, 180-pound junior had 30 receptions for 461 yards and four touchdowns in seven games. He played one game at quarterback after starter Blake Foster was injured and was 7 of 18 passing for 88 yards. He missed two games at the end of the year after being injured early against Dalton.

On defense, he had 37 tackles and an interception from his strong safety position, forcing one fumble and recovering one as well. He also had 13 kickoff returns for 390 yards and a touchdown.

This is Harper’s third straight selection to the all-area team.

Jacob Mays, North Murray, ATH: He was the perfect example of what an athlete is. The senior did a little bit of everything on offense for the Mountaineers, combining for 1,041 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns.

Within their triple-option attack, he rushed for 591 yards and six touchdowns. When North Murray wanted to go vertical, he caught a team-best 28 passes for 450 yards and nine touchdowns — and he returned kicks and punted, averaging 33.1 yards.

This is his second consecutive all-area nod after earning honorable mention as a sophomore.

Easton Ridley, Southeast, ATH: Ridley was another player who was good as a running back, good as a defender and a standout as an athlete.

A 5-10, 190-pound senior, Ridley stood out after taking over the majority of the carries in the Raiders’ offense. He averaged more than 6 yards per carry in the spread offense, finishing with 621 yards on 100 carries with eight touchdowns. He also had 12 receptions for 111 yards and a score.

Pulling double duty as an outside linebacker on the defensive side of the ball, Ridley had 52 tackles, three tackles for loss, a caused fumble and a fumble recovery as well as three pass breakups.

This is Ridley’s first selection to the all-area team after earning honorable mention last season.

Jayro Perez, Southeast, DL: The numbers alone can’t tell the story of how important Perez was for the Raiders, even though those numbers are pretty impressive by themselves.

Playing different positions throughout the year on the defensive side of the ball, Perez saw plenty of double duty on the offensive side as well. A first-team All-Region 7-4A member on defense, he finished with 76 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks, three caused fumbles and a fumble recovery as well. He led the Raiders in total tackles, starting at linebacker and on the defensive line at different points during the season.

A member of the all-area track and field team the past two years as well, Perez is named to the all-area football team for the second year in a row.

Laighton Reese, Dalton, DL: In Dalton’s defense, Reese isn’t the guy who is supposed to be making the tackles. Instead, Reese is supposed to be taking on offensive linemen and allowing the Cats’ linebackers to roam free and make the plays.

It worked well, but he still found ways to make the plays others were supposed to be making.

“He is a plugger,” Land said. “He is a guy that does their job, and no one knows they are doing their job but their coach and their mama. He did a great job of taking on blockers and keeping our linebackers free. Sometimes he made great plays just by himself, but he did his job on every play.”

Reese, a 6-1, 240-pound senior end, finished with 91 tackles, a forced fumble, eight tackles for loss and four sacks, and Land said the most impressive part of Reese’s final season was that he continually got better each game and played his best football at the end of the season against the best competition, finishing with his highest tackle numbers in the Carver and Sandy Creek state playoff games.

This is Reese’s first all-area selection after earning honorable mention last season.

Cordarius Tarver, Coahulla Creek, DL: On a team playing a varsity schedule for the first time, Tarver proved he could compete with the big boys.

Big already at 6-2, 265 pounds, Tarver was more than just a sizable body. With speed that belied his size, Tarver was a dominating defensive player for the Colts. With his ability to get around slower offensive linemen, Tarver had eight sacks, 14 quarterback pressures and 11 tackles for loss. He finished with 40 tackles despite the fact that most teams ran away from him.

The senior was also versatile, serving both as a lineman and a fullback on the offensive side of the ball. After rarely coming off of the field this year, this is Tarver’s first selection to the all-area team.

John Chastain, North Murray, LB: Despite some struggles this season, the Mountaineers’ defense found itself a leader heading into 2013.

The announcer called the junior’s name 77 times for tackles, more than anyone else on North Murray’s roster. The Mountaineers allowed 32 points per game, but Chastain had eight tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and one sack.

He also forced two fumbles, recovered one and got one sack. On top of that, he was able to play fullback for the Mountaineers when starter Christian Bukle needed a breather, and he’ll probably take the starter’s role next year as a two-way player.

This is his first all-area selection.

Robert Hardaway, Dalton, LB: Hardaway was another player who was asked to do a lot of different things and always seemed to deliver. A first-team All-Region 7-4A selection, Hardaway was one of Dalton’s leading tacklers, a grinding fullback and the team’s emotional leader.

On defense, he finished with 142 tackles, seven sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries. At fullback, he took over the starter’s role midway through the season and finished with 253 yards on 39 carries with three touchdowns and was primarily used as a blocker to help spring Rhodes on his touchdown runs.

A 6-foot, 217-pound senior, this is his second straight all-area selection.

Eder Mora, Dalton, LB: In just his second year of varsity play, Mora turned heads left and right and all over the field on offense, defense and special teams. The sophomore shined at a combination linebacker/safety role on defense, as a fullback and receiver on offense and as the team’s punter.

A 5-11, 174-pounder, Mora finished with 164 total tackles, a pair of sacks, five interceptions and four tackles for loss. One of his interceptions he returned for a touchdown against Sandy Creek in the second round of the playoffs, and another was the turning point in Dalton’s win over rival Northwest.

Offensively, he ran for 211 yards on 45 rushes in the second half of the season, scoring a pair of touchdowns. As a punter, he utilized three different kicking styles and had an average of 39.5 yards per punt, which would have been greater if there weren’t certain times when he was instructed to kick the ball out of bounds to avoid a return.

He was a first-team selection to the All-Region 7-4A team, and this is his second straight all-area selection.

Evan Townsend, Christian Heritage, LB: It’s tough to become the leader so early, but Townsend quickly became it for the Lions’ defense.

The sophomore middle linebacker served as the quarterback on that side of the ball, and he played like it, too. He led the team with 108 tackles, 10 for a loss, and added three sacks and three fumble recoveries.

On offense, he played guard and was one of a handful who never left the field for Christian Heritage this season.

This is his first all-area appearance.

Erick Dominguez, Coahulla Creek, DB: One of the things opposing coaches learned early when breaking down film on the Colts was to avoid throwing to the side of the field Dominguez was lined up on.

The junior free safety led the area with seven interceptions and also had six pass breakups while keying Coahulla Creek’s pass defense. Speedy and with good size at 6-2, 185, Dominguez took advantage of those interceptions and racked up 140 return yards.

He was also a key part of the offense for the Colts as a wide receiver, finishing with 25 receptions for 298 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

This is Dominguez’s first selection to the all-area lineup.

Kaleb King, Northwest, DB: In a region with some pretty good cornerbacks — including five-star recruit Vonn Bell at Ridgeland — King was high on the list of talent.

King was selected by the coaches as a first-team All-Region 7-4A selection at corner after recording 84 tackles. He had his best game of the year against the best competition, finishing with 17 tackles against Ridgeland and bringing down the elusive Bell three times in one-on-one situations.

A 5-9, 145-pound senior, King played a lot bigger than his weight and size would suggest, with three tackles for loss, an interception, a caused fumble and a fumble recovery.

This is his first all-area selection after earning honorable mention in 2011.

Tevin McDaniel, Northwest, DB: When McDaniel made a hit, he made it count. The 5-8, 140-pound junior cornerback might not look intimidating, but he could deliver a shot, and opposing players knew when they had been hit by McDaniel.

He led the Bruins in takeaways with four caused fumbles, five fumble recoveries and two interceptions — one of which he returned for a touchdown. He finished with 52 tackles.

On the offensive side of the ball, he had 13 touches for 173 yards of total offense.

This is McDaniel’s first all-area selection after earning honorable mention as a sophomore.

Abel Mendiola, Southeast, PK: Already a standout on the pitch as a two-time member of the all-area boys soccer team, Mendiola proved his value on the football field this fall.

A junior starting for the first time this season, Mendiola was 16 of 18 on extra points and 3 of 5 on field goals.

This is his first selection to the all-area lineup.

Jonathon Sanchez, Southeast, P: In an area filled with standout kicking prospects heading into the year, Sanchez may have been the biggest surprise of the season. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent.

A junior, Sanchez led the area with a punting average of 40.1 yards per kick. Also, he had four “coffin corner” kicks that pinned opposing teams inside of the 10.

This is Sanchez’s first all-area selection.

Honorable mention: Christian Heritage — Trevor Brown (Jr., QB), Jake Stokes (Jr., RB), Michael McKinney (Sr., TE); Coahulla Creek — Jordan Tant (Sr., LB), Michael Ward (Jr., WR); Dalton — Lyle Durham (Jr., LB), Ethan Fromm (Sr., DB), Pepe Gardea (Jr., PK), Jay Rockholt (Jr., LB); Murray County — Kevin Chavez (So., LB), Brady Todd (Sr., ATH), Jordan Walls (Jr., ATH); North Murray — Christian Bukle (Sr., FB), Jared Campbell (Sr., LB), Tino Hernandez (Sr., DB), Isaiah Jackson (Sr., DL); Northwest — Caleb Bowie (Jr., LB), Tyler Floyd (Sr., OL), Jarrod Farmer (Sr., LB), Silas Ledford (Sr., QB), Victor Lopez (Sr., DL), A.J. Orozco (Sr., WR), Seth Pierce (So., DB), Dustin Stanley (Sr., OL), Chris Tinson (Sr., RB); Southeast — Matt Cloer (Jr., OL), Jared Davis (Sr., OL), Carlos Fraire (Sr., DL), Blake Foster (Jr., ATH), Luis Fraire (Jr., DB), Michael Izaguirre (Sr., ATH), Anthony Ortiz (So., LB).

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