By Chris McCarthy/ Publisher/Editor
Dantley Coker certainly did his part to put the Southside High football program back on the proverbial map this past season.
The Panther senior literally powered his way to the upper echelon of Class 5A running backs after finishing with 2,541 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Coker’s production was a major factor in the Panthers’ first region title in 33 years and a berth in the state semifinals. He more than doubled his 2012 output of 1,253 rushing yards.
Along the way, Coker was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s All-State first team and was selected as one of three statewide finalists for the ASWA 5A Back of the Year award. He also was picked as the Most Valuable Player of the All-Etowah County Schools team.
Although a number of area players enjoyed standout seasons, Coker was the runaway choice for Player of the Year of the 2013 All-Messenger football team.
Coker has plenty of company from Southside on the team, starting with Offensive Athlete Blake Devine. The senior wingback rushed for 957 yards and 14 touchdowns and returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.
After being named interim head coach on the day before the first game of the year, Southside’s Ron Daugherty guided the Panthers to an undefeated regular season and a school-record 13 wins.
The team’s Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Player honors went to a pair of Glencoe players. In his first season as a starter, quarterback Dylan Stone amassed 2,644 combined passing and rushing yards while scoring 35 touchdowns. Sophomore linebacker Mason Brown was the top tackler in The Messenger’s coverage area with 163 stops, including 21 for a loss. He also had six sacks. Stone and Brown’s production helped the Yellow Jackets post an 8-4 record and make it to the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Coosa Christian’s Ben Mills had an outstanding season on both sides of the ball on the way to being named Defensive Athlete. The junior had 159 tackles (27 for a loss), seven sacks and seven forced fumbles at linebacker. He also rushed for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 517 yards and five scores at halfback.
2013 All-Messenger football team
Player of the Year
Dantley Coker, Sr., Southside
Dylan Stone, Jr., Glencoe
Mason Brown, So., Glencoe
Blake Devine, Sr., Southside
Ben Mills, Jr., Coosa Christian
Coach of the Year
Ron Daugherty, Southside
First team offense
Will Scott, Sr., Sardis
Thomas Ozmint, Jr., Glencoe; Braxton Collins, Sr., Gaston
Brett Rains, Sr., Sardis; Terrell Malone, Sr., Gadsden City; Lamar Thomas, Sr., Etowah
Austin Abernathy, Sr., Southside
Tyler Carr, Jr., Southside; Blaine Pruitt, Sr., Sardis; Tyler Johnson, Sr., Glencoe; Jamahl Jelks, So., Gadsden City; Tyler Pankey, Gaston
Carter West, So., Southside
First team defense
Chris McElderry, Sr., Gadsden City; Hunter Sparks, Sr., Southside; Lee Corey, Sr., Gaston; Coby Bryant, Sr., Etowah
Hunter Armstrong, So., Southside; Chase Pope, Sr., Hokes Bluff; Blair Edwards, Jr., Gadsden City; Chance Usry, Sr., Southside
Pace Ozmint, So., Glencoe; Tray Smothers, Sr., Gadsden City; Holt Keeling, Jr., Southside; Houston Word, Sr., Glencoe
Tyler Lowery, Westbrook Christian
Second team offense
Quarterback: Will Appleton, Westbrook Christian
Running back: Chase Beggs, Hokes Bluff; Keenan Lewis, Sardis
Receiver: Noah Hunt, Westbrook; Austin Hallmark, Sardis; Deveunte Blount, Gadsden City; Paul Ruiz, Etowah
Offensive line: Brandon Stokes, Southside; Mickey Green, Coosa Christian; Garrett Pentecost, Glencoe; Cole Wilson, Sardis; Tanner Hammett, Etowah
Kicker: Jose Mandragon, Etowah
Second team defense
Defensive line: Javante Pope, Gaston; Saige Dale, Southside; Zack Gamblin, Etowah; Seth Williamson, Coosa Christian
Linebacker: T.J. Posey, Gadsden City; Colton Clay, Southside; Mitchell Smith, Gaston; Noah Click, Hokes Bluff
Defensive back: Jesse Hubbard, Sardis; Matthew Posey, Gadsden City; Dylan Drake, Hokes Bluff; Caleb Sanderson, Coosa Christian
Punter: David Webb, Gadsden City