2021 All-Messenger football announced


Messenger file photo by Gary Wells

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Tucker Griffin did everything except line the field this past football season.
The Hokes Buff High senior finished as the top rusher in The Messenger’s coverage area with 1,102 yards along with 14 touchdowns. On defense, he totaled a team-high 75 tackles from his linebacker position. He also was the team’s kick returner and punt returner.
“The only time that Tucker came off the field was on punt team,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “He’s a quiet, hard-nose kid who is a very good leader while saying very little. He’s the ultimate team player. He could have played on any team I’ve ever coached.
“Tucker’s just an overall do-it-all type of player who we’ll miss very much. He’s a great person who comes from a great family.”
For the above accomplishments, Griffin (pictured above scoring a touchdown) is the Player of the Year for the 2021 All-Messenger football team.
Ashville senior quarterback/cornerback/punter Dylan Harris (pictured at right) got the nod as Overall Athlete. Harris passed and rushed for a combined 1,095 yards and 12 touchdowns. At cornerback on defense, he registered 44 tackles while forcing two fumbles and recovering another. At punter, he kicked 32 times for 1,198 yards, including 10 downed inside the 20-yard line, for a 37.4 average. Harris was named to the ASWA Class 4A All-State honorable mention team at the punter position.
Coach of the Year honors go to Ashville’s Shea Monroe. The Bulldogs won four of their last five games to post the program’s first winning record in 16 years.
Quarterbacking the first team offense is Southside sophomore Gauge NeSmith. In his first year as a starter, the sophomore was 126 for 240 for 1,931 yards and 18 touchdowns. Joining NeSmith and Griffin in the backfield are Hokes Bluff senior fullback Will Wellingham and Gadsden City senior C.J. Miller, who rushed for 1,002 yards and 14 touchdowns despite missing three games due to injury.
West End junior Thad Pearce, Southside junior Cody Roberts and Gadsden City senior Khamari Smith comprise the first team receiving unit. Pearce was named to the Class 2A All-State second team after catching 54 passes for 755 yards and nine touchdowns. Roberts led the Panthers with 39 receptions for 809 yards and seven TDs, while Smith hauled in 36 catches for 601 yards and four scores.
The first team offensive line includes Etowah seniors Bennett Nance and Jaylon Billingsley, Southside senior Tucker Pearce, Hokes Bluff senior J.R. Golden and Westbrook Christian senior Hayes Wiggins. Nance graded out at 85 percent for the season with 17 pancake blocks and 20 knockdowns. Bilingsley graded out at 90 percent with 10 pancakes and 13 knockdowns. Pearce graded out at 93 percent with 61 pancakes while allowing only one sack all season. Wiggins graded out at 94 percent.
Westbrook junior Layton Crawford gets the nod at first team kicker after making 25 of 28 extra point attempts and converting both of his field goal attempts.
The first team defensive line features Etowah senior Jacob Sanford, Southside senior John Gilbert, Gadsden City senior Samuel Horton and West End senior Ashton Self. Sanford made the Class 4A All-State second team after registering 40 tackles (including eight for a loss), five sacks and 19 quarterback hurries. Gilbert, who was selected to the Class 6A All-State second team, recorded 70 tackles (including 17 for a loss) and 11 sacks. Horton finished with 70 tackles (including 14 for a loss) and four sacks. Self compiled 70 tackles, two sacks and four forced fumbles.
At first team linebacker are West End sophomore Rockman Sainsbury, Gadsden City junior Malik Woods, Southside sophomore Tytan Rich and Ashville senior Cole Hyatt. Sainsbury finished with an area-best 107 tackles. Woods came up with 101 tackles, including six for a loss. Rich had 104 tackles, including 14 for a loss, and four sacks. Hyatt had 85 tackles and three sacks.
The first team secondary consists of Gadsden City senior Rodney Johnson, Etowah senior Andrew Pierce, Southside senior Taylor Carr and Glencoe sophomore Mason Teague. Johnson, who had 46 tackles, two forced fumbles and seven breakups, made the Class 7A All-State second team. Pierce finished with 67 tackles, including nine for a loss, and three pass breakups. Carr had four interceptions, while Teague had 54 tackles (including 10 for a loss), four interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Glencoe senior Kade Kueny earned first-team punter recognition after kicking 42 times for 1,734 yards and a 41.3-yard average.
Garnering first-team athlete honors is West End senior Isaiah Roberson, who rushed for a team-high 654 yards and seven touchdowns at halfback and finished with 86 tackles at linebacker.
Also making all-state honorable mention was Etowah junior Omareon Finch, who had 33 receptions for 594 yards and 11 touchdowns.

2021 All-Messenger football team 

Players of the Year
Tucker Griffin, senior, Hokes Bluff

Overall Athlete
Dylan Harris, senior, Ashville

Coach of the Year
Shea Monroe, Ashville

First team offense
Gauge NeSmith, sophomore, Southside
Running back
Tucker Griffin, senior, Hokes Bluff
C.J. Miller, senior, Gadsden City
Will Wellingham, senior, Hokes Bluff
Thad Pearce, junior, West End
Cody Roberts, junior, Southside
Khamari Smith, senior, Gadsden City
Tight end
Mason Johnson, senior, Gadsden City
Bennett Nance, senior, Etowah
Jaylon Billingsley, senior, Etowah
J.R. Golden, senior, Hokes Bluff
Hayes Wiggins, senior, Westbrook Christian
Tucker Pearce, senior, Southside
Layton Crawford, junior, Westbrook Christian

First team defense
Jacob Sanford, senior, Etowah
John Gilbert, senior, Southside
Samuel Horton, senior, Gadsden City
Ashton Self, senior, West End
Rockman Sainsbury, sophomore, West End
Malik Woods, junior, Gadsden City
Tytan Rich, sophomore, Southside
Cole Hyatt, senior, Ashville
Rodney Johnson, senior, Gadsden City
Andrew Pierce, senior, Etowah
Taylor Carr, senior, Southside
Mason Teague, sophomore, Glencoe
Kade Keuny, senior, Glencoe
Isaiah Roberson, senior, West End

Second team offense
Luke Waldrop, sophomore, Gadsden City
Omareon Finch, junior, Etowah
Damion Hitchcock, senior, Southside
Cayden McMichael, sophomore, Southside
Tight end
Eli Morton, sophomore, Sardis
Aaron Wood, junior, Gadsden City
John Collier, senior, West End
C.J. Townsel, junior, Westbrook
Matthew Wright, senior, Coosa Christian
Mason Lockridge, senior, Hokes Bluff


Gabriel Brito, sophomore, GCHS

Second team defense
Jirell McClure, senior, Coosa Christian
Ethan Light, senior, Southside
Jackson Veasy, junior, Gadsden City
Levi Long, senior, Glencoe
Clete O’Bryant, freshman, Coosa Christian
Jacob Davis, senior, Southside
Tyler Dobbs, senior, Etowah
Hunter Hanners, senior, Glencoe
Carson Riddlespur, senior, Southside
Jake Edwards, senior, West End
Kelsey Smith, senior, Gadsden City
Case Martin, senior, Sardis

Honorable Mention
Quarterback: Trace Thompson, junior, Eto-wah; Tyler Jones, junior, West End; Mason Coley, junior, Westbrook
Running back: KarMichael Cattling, junior, Westbrook Christian; D.J. Smith, freshman, Coosa Christian; Jaylen Williams, senior, Ashville
Receiver: Jarvis Hardwick, senior, Etowah; Jay Glover, senior, West End; Clyde Curry, junior, Gadsden City
Offensive line: Aiden Hull, junior, Westbrook; Dorian Patterson, junior, Gadsden City; Jose Ponce, sophomore, Sardis; Layden Olsen, junior, Ashville; Jacob Strunk, junior, Southside
Kicker: Greyson Simpson, junior, Ashville
Defensive line: Jerrod Harden, junior, Southside; Aaron Richard, senior, Gadsden City; Ashton Mostella, junior, Ashville; Jirell McClure, senior, Coosa Christian
Linebacker: Dre Kirkpatrick, sophomore, Gadsden City; Spencer Sharpe, senior, Southside; Russell Smith, senior, West End; Travis Smith, senior, Ashville
Secondary: Koal Garrett, freshman, Southside; Nehemiah Washington, senior, Gadsden City; Smiley Jones, junior, Southside; Ty Sims, 8th grade, Coosa Christian




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