The 2019 All-State Football Teams as selected by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution were released Thursday and several area players were honored.
Two players were named to the Class AAA first team: North Murray senior Ladd McConkey was named the first team Athlete, while Fannin Co. junior Luke Holloway was named the first team Punter.
Dawson Co. placed two players on the Honorable Mention list: senior defensive back Riley Herndon and junior place kicker Caleb Bonesteel.
North Murray senior linebacker Dylan Flood was also named an Honorable Mention.
In Class AA, two players from Rabun Co. were named to the first team: sophomore quarterback Gunner Stockton and senior wide receiver Braxton Hicks.
Union Co. senior quarterback Pierson Allison was named an Honorable Mention in Class AA.
wson Co. High graduate and Cumming native Luke Martin played for the Charlotte 49ers in the Makers Watned Bahamas Bowl on Friday, Dec. 20.
In the game, Martin, a linebacker, accounted for four total tackles (one solo, three assists) as Charlotte lost the first bowl game appearance in school history to Buffalo, 31-9.
Martin, now a college junior, was a four-year letter winner for the Tigers. He was a first-team all-state linebacker, won the Region 7-AAA Defensive Player of the Year award and broke the Dawson Co. school record for tackles with 185 during his senior season. He was also named to the first-team, all-region team as a sophomore and a junior.
Martin helped lead the Tigers to their first-ever region championship as a junior, helped the team reach the state quarterfinals for the first time, and also made an appearance in the state playoffs his senior season.
For his career at Charlotte, Martin has 49 total tackles (22 solo, 27 assissts).
Charlotte went 7-6 overall this season and went 5-3 in Conference USA to earn the school’s first bowl appearance.
The Region 7-3A All-Region Team was announced Tuesday, Dec. 17, and multiple members of the Dawson Co. football team were honored.
The entire team is as follows:
Player of the year: JT Fair, North Hall, senior running back/defensive back
Offensive MVP: Jackson Hardy, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior quarterback
Defensive MVP: Riley Herndon, Dawson Co., senior defensive back
Special Teams MVP: Caleb Bonesteel, Dawson Co., junior place kicker
Athlete of the Year: Dakohta Sonnichsen, Dawson Co., junior wide receiver
Lineman of the Year: Myles Hinton, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior offense/defense
Academic Player of the Year: Tino Mukono, Cherokee Bluff, senior defensive back
QB – Zach Holtzclaw, Dawson Co., sophomore
RB – Treylynn Owensby, Fannin Co., senior
RB – Jayquan Smith, Cherokee Bluff, sophomore
RB – Montavious Taber, East Hall, junior
RB – Jacob Dickey, North Hall, junior
FB – Will Mosley, Fannin Co., senior
WR – Christian Thomas, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
WR – Jaden Gibson, Dawson Co., freshman
WR – Drew Highfield, East Hall, senior
WR – Brooks Miller, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
TE – Thomas Lawson, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
OL – Addison Nichols, Greater Atlanta Christian, sophomore
OL – Austin Sullens, North Hall, senior
OL – Micah Holman, North Hall, senior
OL – Mason Bundy, Fannin Co., junior
OL – Miles Johnson, Fannin Co., senior
OL – Mateo Guevera, Cherokee Bluff, sophomore
ATH/RB/DB – Tyler Bride, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DL – Spencer Helms, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DL – Logan Hawthorne, North Hall, senior
DL – Nate Nixon, North Hall, senior
DL – Dakota Collins, Cherokee Bluff, junior
DL – Aaron Hopkins, Lumpkin Co., senior
DL – Jakob Tuggle, Fannin Co., senior
LB – Choe Bryant-Strother, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
LB – DJ Mitchell, Dawson Co., senior
LB – Dalton Battle, North Hall, junior
LB – Jackson Weeks, Fannin Co., senior
LB – Micah O’Neal, Fannin Co., junior
DB – Luke Volle, North Hall, senior
DB – Brody Howell, Dawson Co., senior
DB – Evan Byrd, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DB – Joseph Rose, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
DB – Breadon Hubbard, Dawson Co., sophomore
P – Luke Holloway, Fannin Co., junior
P – Jacob Carlson, Cherokee Bluff, senior
PK – Tyler Curland, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
SPEC – Zac Mixon, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
Considering last year Dawson County came to their field and won 64-0, East Hall had some added motivation for this game.
And they showed it on the first drive.
After 2 false starts, the Spartans launched the ball down the field twice, resulting in a 35-yard reception and a 59-yard touchdown less than 2 minutes into the game. Dawson wasn’t just going to roll over on their field, as they blocked the PAT kick to keep the score at 6-0.
Dawson has multiple return men who have returned kicks for scores this year, and the Spartans obviously didn’t want to allow that, as every kickoff was a squib kick. These resulted in great field position for the Tigers, but prevented any type of long return.
Starting their drive from their own 34, the Tigers methodically drove the ball down the field with a number of short throws and runs. After about 5 minutes, Dawson had to settle for a 26-yard field goal to cut deficit to 3.
The Tigers’ defense got back on track, forcing a 3 and out. They moved the ball down the field with multiple runs and a big first down catch by #1 Dakohta Sonnichsen. Just before the end of the first quarter, #15 Isaiah Grindle pounded in a touchdown from 8 yards out to give Dawson a 10-6 lead.
Already having 3 interceptions on the season, #12 Riley Herndon added to his total on the second play of the next drive to give his offense the ball back.
Unfortunately, his offense couldn’t keep the momentum up as they went 3 and out.
East Hall got back on track in the air with a few short first downs, followed by a long heave to get the Spartans inside the 10-yard line. After a facemask call on the Tigers, East Hall ran in the 1-yard score. Since the PAT was blocked earlier, they tried to get the points back by going for 2, but failed to convert, holding their lead at only 2 points.
After another squib kick, Dawson started their drive at their own 46. Following a 1-yard run, Sonnichsen caught a screen pass and dashed past the defense 53 yards for his first score of the game.
The Vikings got their next drive started off right with a quick first down, but #7 Braedon Hubbard forced their second turnover of the game with an interception.
This time, the Tigers were able to capitalize off of the turnover. After multiple first downs, #21 Shawn Thomas took the direct snap and ran in the 2-yard touchdown to give Dawson the 24-12 lead with about 4 minutes to go.
On third down of their next drive, East Hall felt the pressure from the Dawson defensive line, as their quarterback slipped and fell for a huge loss, forcing a punt that went to the 43-yard line.
Thomas got a quick first down on a screen, but it was Sonnichsen who scored on a 26-yard touchdown reception to give Dawson the 31-12 lead.
Getting the ball back with about 10 seconds left, Dawson elected to allow #99 Caleb Bonesteel to attempt a 67-yard field goal. Attempting a kick 3 yards longer than the NFL record of 64-yards, the confidence in Bonesteel from the coaching staff speaks volumes about his ability.
The kick fell short, giving the Vikings the ball back. They tried to run out the clock, but Herndon didn’t want to end the half without getting one more big hit in to give the Tigers momentum going into the locker room.
Starting the half from the 44, #10 Zacchaeus Holtzclaw delivered a quick screen to Sonnichsen who ran it 56 yards for the touchdown. Unfortunately, it was called back by a personal foul, and the Tigers ended up going 3 and out.
After a first down by East Hall, the Dawson defense came back to life with an 80-yard pick 6 by Herndon, his second takeaway of the game.
The Vikings decided to put in a new quarterback, who fumbled the first snap, but made up for it quickly by delivering a 61-yard strike for a touchdown. East Hall went for 2 and converted on a fade to the back left corner of the endzone that was tipped by the defense but caught by the receiver as he hit the ground.
Although it seemed East Hall gained momentum, the Tigers turned the tables back in their favor, as #6 Jaden Gibson returned the squib quick for a touchdown to make their lead to 45-20 halfway through the third.
On the ensuing possession, the Vikings drove the ball down the field with multiple first downs, only to have the drive ended by a fumble that was recovered by #30 D.J. Mitchell.
However, Dawson went 3 and out quickly, as they seemed to slow the tempo down a little bit.
East Hall on the other hand kept up the pace. After multiple first downs, they ran in the score from 2 yards out. They weren’t able to convert on the 2-point attempt this time, as the score remained 45-26.
Dawson kept the ball on the ground, and this time it paid off. After multiple first down runs by Gibson and Grindle, Grindle took it to the house from 11 yards out to make the score 52-26 in favor of the Tigers.
The Vikings responded quickly on a 68-yard touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 52-34 with less than 7 minutes to go.
The Tigers run game stayed strong, as they were able to run out the clock from this point on with some well-timed first downs to give them the victory.
Dawson County will play host to GAC next Friday as they look to move to 6-1 on the season.
If any of you are under the age of 18 and reading this article, then I imagine this week was probably a tough week for you. I say that because the majority of schools in the state of Georgia started back this week.
I can remember being in high school and having a knot of dread in my stomach the night before the first day of school. I’ve never been a morning person, so having to get up early was my first problem. Add in all of the homework and having to spend my days in one building…it was easy to tell I wasn’t a school person.
The good news is there was always one bright spot in all of this gloom, and that was football season. I know I’ve said it before on our sports show, Instant Replay, and probably in this column as well, but in high school I lived for football season. I never missed a game, home or away. Granted I was in the colorguard with the marching band, so most of the time I HAD to go. But I can still remember a handful of games where we weren’t required to go, and some of my friends got together and still went anyway.
Those were good times, but I dare to say that these are even better. I’m thankful to have a job that pays me to follow a sport that I love. But on the other hand, it’s a job that’s helping me to get an inside look on other sports that are sometimes forgotten, especially in the South where football is a religion.
I covered my first softball game on Tuesday. I have watched and worked softball games in the past, so in my defense I knew what to expect, but it was my first time reporting on a game. It was the Lumpkin County Lady Indians against the Pickens Dragonettes in the Lady Indians home opener. One thing I loved about this game was that it wasn’t just smooth sailing, if you will. Just to give a brief recap, the Nettes put three runs on the board first. By the fifth inning, it was looking as though the Lady Indians might lose their home opener. But as with all great teams, the Lady Indians weren’t going down without a fight and ended up coming back to win 4-3. Ironically, I went to the next game where they played each other tonight and the Nettes ended up winning 9-4.
Softball is just one of several high school sports that is played in the fall. There’s also volleyball and cross country. While I haven’t gotten the chance to go cover either of these events yet, I know that I probably will be in the near future.
I’ve never personally played volleyball competitively, but I know several people who have. And from what I do know about it, there’s more technique to setting and hitting the ball than there seems. Whenever I play for fun at the beach I just feel lucky to get it over the net. But there are certain ways to prepare before you serve the ball and where to place your feet when you’re in an official match. I don’t see how players keep up with everything, other than that they practice. I know it’s got to feel great whenever you take all of your frustration out by smacking the ball.
Now I enjoy running, but I could never run cross country. I’ve seen the joke that says “my sport is your sport’s punishment” and to be honest, that’s how I feel because I don’t know how they do it. I can remember talking to cross country runners in high school, and them telling me that they would get up at 6 a.m. to run. And for some of them, the distances they would run blew my mind. But the other incredible thing to me about cross country is how much of a mental sport it is. Not only do runners have to be trained physically to maintain a certain time, they also have to be trained physically to encourage themselves to keep going.
The point I’m trying to make is that even though I’m still learning about other sports, I respect them because I do know how hard they work. I see the social media posts, I know people that play, and I see the teams out practicing well before their season starts. And even though the summer is ending and we’re back to school, the exciting thing is we’re past the days of camps and well on our way to the actual competition. I can’t wait to see what all of these young athletes accomplish.
Over the last week and a half BKP and I have been going from school to school interviewing head football coaches for our North Georgia Coaching Series. Now if any of y’all know BKP, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he’s been doing most of the talking and I’ve been doing most of the observing. But this doesn’t bother me, it gives me a chance to learn more about the programs I’ll be spending a lot of time with this fall.
With that being said, there’s one thing in particular I’ve been noticing in our interviews, and that’s how much these coaches truly care about their players and their programs.
Now me saying that might make some of y’all think, “Well, duh. That’s what they’re supposed to do.” Well, maybe. But I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up when someone is just putting on an act for appearances. And I can say with all sincerity that none of these coaches are doing that.
Obviously when BKP and I go into these interviews, he asks questions about what the teams have been doing during the summer and how they’re planning to prepare for the regular season. But he also asks the coaches if they can highlight a few players that have really stood out. This point in the interview, I believe, is where a coach who didn’t care would possibly just say a couple names and move on.
But these coaches not only name the players, they tell us about why they stand out. And it’s a sign of the hard work of these athletes, but there’s also a sense of pride from these coaches as they name them. A couple of coaches have mentioned that it’s hard to name just a few, because all of their players have worked hard. And it’s not that the rest of the team doesn’t matter or that they don’t care about them, but the ones that they mention they do so without hesitation because they’ve been there with them through the summer truly coaching them. There’s no so-so about the commitment these coaches make- they’re all in.
Another thing that has amazed me about these coaches, not just in the interviews but learning about them off the field, is how much they care about their community as well. A couple of them, such as Chad Cheatham at Fannin County and Chad McClure at Hayesville, are natives to their communities. It’s home to them, and they’re not going to be just halfway in their commitments to their programs.
When Coach Caleb Sorrells of the Lumpkin County Indians was first named as head coach, the school hosted a meet and greet for him. It was one of the first stories I covered in this position.
In his address to the parents, Sorrells promised to not only invest in the team as players and athletes, but as men who would one day be employees and fathers. I remember being caught off guard at first because I was expecting him to talk about plans for the future of the program, the summer schedule and what not. He did talk about these things, but I believe by telling the parents that he was going to invest in the players as men showed that it was going to be a priority.
Although I know more about the commitment that Sorrells has made because I’m positioned in Lumpkin County, he’s not the only one in the area who gets involved in the community and works to build up the athletes’ character.
Tim Cokely with the White County Warriors has an entire wall of his office decorated with signs of good character qualities to instill in the team. Chad Cheatham, who I mentioned earlier, referees basketball in the football off-season just because, and the community loves him for it. I’m sure that many of the other coaches in the area do similar things and I just don’t know about it yet.
These are commitments that we see played out by coaches in movies and don’t always think to look for in real life. And because I grew up in Gwinnett County, population one million, if there was this sort of commitment by coaches I didn’t always see it because there were so many people. I love living up here in North Georgia in a smaller community where an act of kindness, especially where sports are concerned, rarely goes unnoticed.
We think about football as a sport that instills a since of discipline, but why is that? Because there’s a coach that sets that standard and inspires the team to do the same. As a community we love football and we love our team, and we can thank a coach for that.
With the regular season only weeks away, high school teams in the North Georgia area know that they have to take every chance they can to get better. That’s exactly what the Dawson County Tigers and several other teams from the North Georgia/metro-Atlanta area are doing this week at the North Forsyth High School contact camp.
The camp started this morning at 9 a.m. and lasted until around noon. Each team had a chance to play in a scrimmage game twice. Teams will return again tomorrow at the same time.
The scrimmage games were played in a format that allowed seven to eight minutes of possession time for each team. After time ran out the teams would change possession. Plays were stopped at first contact with the ball carrier.
The Tigers scrimmaged Southwest DeKalb for the first game. This game was played at a slower pace so the Tigers could rotate players. Junior Varsity and Varsity teams were present for the Tigers, so the rotation schedule allowed playing time for both teams.
Dawson County scrimmaged Collins Hill in the second game. Although this game was played in the same format as the first, it was played at a faster pace to focus on moving the ball and gaining yardage. Each game lasted an hour and a half.
“We’ve got a very young squad, a lot of these guys are just trying to get their feet wet before we officially kick off next week,” said Sid Maxwell, head coach for the Tigers. “[We’re] Just trying to get another chance to come out and play somebody.”
Maxwell said that this camp is the third contact camp for the Tigers this summer, and they are gearing up for the start of their mandatory practices next week.
Watch the full video interview with Coach Maxwell below, and check out pictures from the camp on Team FYN Sports Facebook page!
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