Prep Football: All-Rowan County team announced
By Mike London
SALISBURY — The ideal All-Rowan County football team is an actual squad — including five offensive linemen and kicking specialists — rather than a parade of backs and pass receivers.
After an all-time record of 37 players from any position, the all-county “team” was trimmed down to 26 players in 2014.
Last year’s 26-man squad covered the basic 22 positions, plus punter, kicker, kick returner and athlete.
Reducing the team was the right thing to do.
Having said that, this year’s team crept back to 30 members.
One addition is a long snapper. Logically, if we salute a punter and kicker, long snappers also deserve their due. It’s an important role. Carson junior Isaac Bell makes history as the first All-Rowan County long snapper.
A second addition is a defensive “athlete.” We had an offensive “athlete” in 2014. That’s become a standard position on every all-star team, even the all-state team.
But we also need an athlete spot on defense. We have many multi-purpose defenders now that can’t be pigeon-holed as DLs, DBs or LBs. Salisbury’s D.J. Alexander is our first defensive athlete. He was a linebacker half the time and a lineman half the time (heck, he even played a little quarterback). Whether he had a hand on the ground or not, he was the most likely Hornet to make a game-changing play.
That brings us to 28 players. The reasons for No. 29 and No. 30? Ties for the fourth defensive line spot and third wide receiver spot. Just too close to call.
Coaches nominated players from their respective teams and they nominated a lot of them. One helpful coach offered positive commentary on athletes he coached against.
Some coaches provided detailed information on every nominee. Some posted stats online. Some provided a list of nominees with no embellishment.
The Post picked the team. The team’s not perfect. It never is.
In a perfect world, each school would have an all-county player for every win. North won five and has four all-county players. Carson won seven and has six. They probably deserved one more.
West won 10 and has 10 all-county players. South won zero, but South’s kicker isn’t out of place on the AP All-State ballot and South’s punter is an All-American. Those two were the easiest two.
Salisbury and East won three games each and have four all-county players each. Maybe they got one extra, but when you look at those eight guys, it’s hard to delete anyone.
Positions are a factor. Some fine players got squeezed out. There were three linebacker spots. Carson’s best two players were linebackers. That didn’t leave much room for the rest of the county.
There was an overload of worthy defensive players. That makes sense. My impression watching them play was that Carson, North, Salisbury and East were better on defense than offense.
You could make a case for nine different guys as all-county DBs.
That’s one reason we’re listing a second team, acting on a suggestion by North coach Ben Hampton.
Yes, we realize it’s not the same as being in the all-county picture. Still, it’s a bit of recognition for a job well done. Everyone on the second team played hard and played well. Many of them are young. Hopefully, they’ll use a second-team nod as a springboard to first-team honors in 2016.
The Post’s players of the year — Kacey Otto and Ryan Bearden — were not all-county as juniors. More proof that almost anything is possible.
1. West’s Kacey Otto led the county in passing and was one of the county’s two 1,000-yard rushers.
2. Owen White threw for 1,316 yards and had a sensational season for a sophomore.
1. Salisbury’s Antwond Glenn kept pounding for his three-win team and managed 883 rushing yards.
Carson’s 5-foot-5 fullback Dylan Livengood rushed for 800 yards and was at his best against the best..
2. West’s Jovon Quarles (720 yards) and North sophomore Xavier Haley (785 yards) were the other top rushing candidates.
1. West’s Kortez Weeks (67 catches, 982 yards, 13 TDs) produced a banner season. Carson’s Brandon Huneycutt (43 catches, 737 yards, 9 TDs) was a force for a team that traditionally runs the ball. West’s Juwan Houston (38-752-8) produced big plays. East’s 6-2 Naquis Caldwell (29-535-6) was a physical blocker and may be a D-I player.
2. North’s Alonzo Sirleaf averaged 23.3 yards per catch. North’s Desmond Gray led the Cavs with 32 receptions. Salisbury never got its passing game going. That kept Will Steinman from putting up the sort of numbers he did as a junior. Still, he’s a great athlete.
1. East’s Max Wall split his time at running back and quarterback. He had a county-leading 1,084 rushing yards, 613 passing yards and 329 receiving yards. He was in the top six in the county in all three categories.
2. South’s Austin Chrismon usually was his team’s most effective offensive player, generating passing, receiving and rushing yards.
1. West’s Hezekiah Banks was the county’s lone Shrine Bowler. West’s Shane Barber was a dependable two-year starter. Center Nick Holman spearheaded a Carson offensive line that produced big rushing games. East tackle Sawyer Kimmer, a three-year starter, is a sure D-I signee at 6-4, 285. Matt Woolly was recommended by many as Salisbury’s top offensive lineman.
2. North’s Robbie Monroe, West’s K.J. Wilson and Jeremy Fortson, Carson’s Ethan Collins and Salisbury’s Marquise Peele were all-county nominees.
1. South’s Marshall Long broke the county single-season punting record (46.5 yards) and boomed a 75-yard punt. South’s Brennan Lambert kicked nine field goals, with two bombs of 50-plus yards. Bell is a top-notch long snapper.
2. North soph Jacob Young booted five field goals. Carson punter Cole Howard was a frequent special teams player of the week for the Cougars. Long, who snapped on Lambert’s field goals and PATs, has great size and was viewed as the second-best long snapper.
1. Quarles, explosive in the playoffs, is a second team running back, but he’s the first team kick returner. He had a kickoff return TD against West Henderson and got West jump-started at South Point with a long return.
2. Salisbury’s Shaquez Strickland, an all-county nominee at cornerback, had two punt return TDs.
1. Sophomore Devin Turner was physical and tough and constantly forced his way into the offensive backfield for West. Seniors Dearius Phillips and Derrick Moreland were run-disrupters and QB-sackers. If Moreland hadn’t gotten injured (knee), he was a player of the year candidate.
North ends Jake Pritchard (nine sacks) and Zion DeBose were the Cavs’ two finest players. Only a junior, DeBose was Central Carolina Conference Player of the Year, already has D-I offers and has been invited to the Army All-American Bowl Combine.
2. North’s Steven Thurston and Matthew Hoosier contributed five sacks each. East’s Norman Kelly tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss.
1. Carson’s Ryan Bearden had crazy defensive stats and personally came up with nine turnovers. Carson’s Jacob McCurry had 18 tackles for loss. North’s Javin Goodine led the Cavaliers in tackles.
2. West’s L.J. Robinson scored two touchdowns on defense. Salisbury’s Tywun Rivens produced a team-best 12 tackles per game. South’s Brian Cagler missed a few games, but he was the Raiders’ toughest defender when healthy. Coach Kenneh McClamrock praised Hunter L’Hommedieu as his smartest defender.
1. East’s Wesley Porter had four of his team’s six interceptions, including a pick-six. He had 12 pass breakups and more than 700 yards in punt and kickoff returns. North’s Chris Clodfelter had five picks, including two in the playoffs. Salisbury’s hard-hitting Darius Jackson forced fumbles whether he was playing as a high safety or a linebacker. He was good enough that teams ran away from him. West’s J.T. Sanders, the county’s fastest player, scored two TDs and picked off three passes.
2. Carson safety Andrew Jerman had four picks and was a sure tackler. Carson’s 6-3 corner Brenden Westbrook always took on the opponent’s best receiver and had three picks, one pick-six and eight breakups. West corner Deyquan Byrd allowed only eight completions on his side all season. A first-year football player, East basketball standout Bravon Goodlett stood out at safety and led the Mustangs with 78 tackles.
Salisbury’s Alexander had 12 sacks, three fumble recoveries and a pick-six.
First Team Offense
QB — Kacey Otto, West, Sr.
RB — Dylan Livengood, Carson, Sr.
RB — Antwond Glenn, Salisbury Sr.
WR — Kortez Weeks, West, Jr.
WR — Brandon Huneycutt, Carson, Sr.
WR — Naquis Caldwell, East, Sr.
WR — Juwan Houston, West, Sr.
OL — Shane Barber, West, Sr.
OL — Hezekiah Banks, West, Sr.
OL — Nick Holman, Carson, Sr.
OL — Matt Woolly, Salisbury, Sr.
OL — Sawyer Kimmer, East, Sr.
ATH — Max Wall, East, Jr.
First Team Specialists
K — Brennan Lambert, South, Sr.
P — Marshall Long, South, Sr.
LS — Isaac Bell, Carson, Jr.
KR — Jovon Quarles, West, Jr.
First Team Defense
DL — Zion DeBose, North, Jr.
DL — Devin Turner, West, Soph.
DL — Jake Pritchard, North, Sr.
DL — Derrick Moreland, West, Sr.
DL — Dearius Phillips, West, Sr.
LB — Ryan Bearden, Carson, Sr.
LB — Jacob McCurry, Carson, Sr.
LB — Javin Goodine, North, Jr.
DB — Darius Jackson, Salisbury, Sr.
DB — Wes Porter, East, Jr.
DB — J.T. Sanders, West, Sr.
DB — Chris Clodfelter, North, Jr.
ATH — D.J. Alexander, Salisbury, Sr.
Second Team Offense
QB — Owen White, Carson, Soph.
RB — Jovon Quarles, West, Jr.
RB — Xavier Haley, North, Soph.
WR — Alonzo Sirleaf, North, Jr.
WR — Desmond Gray, North, Jr.
WR — Will Steinman, Salisbury, Sr.
OL — K.J. Wilson, West, Sr.
OL — Marquise Peele, Salisbury, Sr.
OL — Jeremy Forston, West, Sr.
OL — Ethan Collins, Carson, Sr.
OL — Robbie Monroe, North, Sr.
ATH — Austin Chrismon, South, Jr.
Second Team Specialists
K — Jacob Young, North, Soph.
P — Cole Howard, Carson, Jr.
LS — Marshall Long, South, Sr.
KR — Shaquez Strickland, Salisbury, Sr.
Second Team Defense
DL — Steven Thurston, North, Jr.
DL — Norman Kelly, East, Jr.
DL — Matthew Hoosier, North, Soph.
LB — L.J. Robinson, West, Jr.
LB — Tywun Rivens, Salisbury, Jr.
LB — Hunter L’Hommedieu, East, Sr.
LB — Brian Cagler, South, Sr.
DB — Andrew Jerman, Carson, Jr.
DB — Deyquan Byrd, West, Jr.
DB — Brenden Westbrook, Carson, Jr.
DB — Bravon Goodlett, East, Sr.
ATH — Theo Fisher, West, Sr.