Coosa’s O’Bryant cream of the crop for All-Messenger football


Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy: Clete O’Bryant (center) competes against Leroy in the Class 1A state championship game earlier this month.

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor 

To say that Clete O’Bryant played a pivotal role in the success of the 2023 Coosa Christian football team is quite the understatement.

The versatile junior lined up at linebacker, running back, tight end, wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner in 2023, in addition to being a member of the team’s kick coverage unit.

O’Bryant’s primary spot was at linebacker, where he amassed 125 tackles (including 23 for a loss), two sacks, three interceptions, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He spearheaded a defense that posted eight shutouts in 15 games, including four in a row. The Conquerors allowed an average of only 6.5 points a game to finish the year as the top scoring defense in all AHSAA classifications.

As a threat out of the backfield and at receiver on offense, O’Bryant (pictured above) rushed for 465 yards and five touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 345 yards and four TDs. He was recently named MVP of the Class 1A, All-Region 7 football team.

For the above production, O’Bryan is the Overall MVP of the 2023 All-Messenger football team.

“Clete is one of the savviest players I’ve coached,” said Coosa Christian defensive coordinator Teddy Whitmire. “He is one of those guys that when you watch film, he’s always around the ball. He’s like having another coach on the field. I have conversations with Clete during games and ask him what he’s seeing and what he thinks about certain things, and he sees the game like I do. You can’t put a price on things like that. Clete is one of the hardest workers on the team and watches a lot of film. He’s not the biggest or the fastest player, but he’s definitely one of the toughest.”

A pair of running backs share the Offensive Player of the Year award in Southside senior Mason Teague and Gadsden City junior T.J. Worthy. After losing standout senior quarterback Gauge NeSmith to a season-ending injury in the second game of the year, Teague was the Panthers’ primary option on offense, rushing for 2,143 yards and 25 touchdowns on 245 carries. He averaged 195 yards and 2.3 TDs per game. Southside won eight of its last 10 games to finish 8-3 and capture its first region championship in nine years. It was Worthy left and Worthy right for much of the Titans’ play-calling this past season, during which Worthy ran for 1,501 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 21 passes for 430 yards and six scores. Worthy helped GCHS go 9-4, win a second straight region championship and make the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2016.

Worthy’s teammate Chris Butler earned the Defensive Player of the Year award after racking up an area-best 130 tackles from his outside linebacker spot. The sophomore also had five sacks while helping the GCHS defense post three shutouts.

Coosa Christian junior Eli Motes was selected Overall Athlete. At defensive end, Motes registered 92 tackles (including 20 for a loss), five sacks, four forced fumbles and nine quarterback hurries. At tight end. Motes had 45 receptions for 528 yards and eight touchdowns.

Etowah senior quarterback Jameson Scissum earned Offensive Athlete honors after rolling up 2,800 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Blue Devils. He was 154 for 257 in passing for 1,875 yards and 14 TDs and rushed for 925 yards and six scores.

The Defensive Athlete award went to Southside senior linebacker Tytan Rich, who wound up with a team-high 114 tackles, including 23 for a loss, three sacks and an interception.

There was not a close second for Special Teams Player of the Year. Gadsden City senior Dre Kirkpatrick, Jr., returned 17 punts for 613 yards and three touchdowns and ran back 14 kickoffs for 493 yards and two scores. The University of Alabama commitment recorded 55 tackles and intercepted five passes, three of which he returned for touchdowns.

Coach of the Year honors went to Coosa Christian’s Mark O’Bryant, who in his fourth year with the program guided the Conquerors to an on-the-field record of 13-2 and a second-place finish in the state.

2023 All-Messenger football team

MVP: Clete O’Bryant, Coosa Christian

Offensive Player of the Year: Mason Teague, Southside; T.J. Worthy, Gadsden City

Defensive MVP: Chris Butler, Gadsden City

Overall Athlete: Eli Motes, Coosa Christian

Offensive Athlete: Jameson Scissum, Etowah

Defensive Athlete: Tytan Rich, Southside

Special Teams Player of the Year: Dre Kirkpatrick, Jr., Gadsden City

Coach of the Year: Mark O’Bryant, Coosa Christian


First team offense

Quarterback: John Davis Justus, junior, Coosa Christian; Luke Waldrop, senior, Gadsden City

Running back: Rock Sainsbury, senior, West End; Blaze Gerhart, senior, Sardis; Aaron Mann, junior, Glencoe

Tight End: Eli Morton, senior, Sardis

Receiver: Cayden McMichael, senior, Southside; Jayden Patton, junior, Glencoe; Matthew Sparks, junior, Gadsden City; Bodie Bennett, senior, Etowah

Line: Eric Roden, senior, Coosa Christian; James Wood, sophomore, Gadsden City; Jamin Brown, junior, Southside; Aiden Brown, senior, Westbrook Christian; Jon Cook, senior, Coosa Christian

Kicker: Jadan Burns, senior, Coosa Christian

First team defense

Line: Jerrell Brasher, senior, Gadsden City; Cade Mickler, sophomore, Coosa Christian; Nemo Samples, junior, Gadsden City; Gage Garner, senior, Sardis

Linebacker: Levi Martin, sophomore, Sardis; Coleman McGinnis, senior, Hokes Bluff; Josh Carroll, senior, West End; Braden Bowers, junior, Southside

Secondary: Grayson Malone, senior, Coosa Christian; Anderson Morgan, junior, Hokes Bluff; Brody Blevins, junior, Westbrook; Triston Chaney, senior, West End; Brody McCutcheon, junior, Southside

Punter: Seth Cooper, senior, Sardis

Second team offense

Quarterback: Brian Chapman, junior, Sardis; Jordan Bryan, junior, Southside

Running back: Bryce Whitaker, sophomore, Hokes Bluff; Kanon Wilson, junior, Coosa Christian; Jon Beason, senior, Ashville

Tight end: Cooper Greer, senior, Westbrook; Bennett Reaves, junior, Etowah

Receiver: Conner Lowery, senior, Sardis; Lamycal Mitchell, senior, Westbrook; Justin Peoples, senior, Gadsden City

Line: Zayden Franklin, sophomore, Coosa Christian; Jake Stewart, senior, Southside; Lucas Huff, senior, Glencoe; Luke Hollingsworth, senior, Gaston; Tre Williams, junior, Gadsden City

Kicker: Caleb Ogle, senior, Southside

Second team defense

Line: D.J. Mackey, junior, Coosa Christian; Taylor Barber, junior, Gadsden City; Jace Golden, senior, West End; Braylon Mostella, senior, Etowah

Linebacker: Fysher Patterson, sophomore, West End; Eggo Alabassi, senior, Westbrook; Kevin Brooks, senior, Gadsden City; Keller Skaggs, junior, Gaston

Secondary: Max Legg, junior, Westbrook; Ty Sims, sophomore, Gadsden City; Drake Dupree, senior, Coosa Christian; Trent Bothwell, senior, Etowah

Punter: Conner Montgomery, Glencoe

Honorable mention

Quarterback: Grayson Carroll, Westbrook; Brady Kitchens, Glencoe

Running back: Blaine Barron, Hokes Bluff; Josh Hester, Coosa Christian; Kane Lawson, West End; Hunter Arnold, Westbrook

Receiver: Braylen Smith, Glencoe

Offensive line: Kileque Jones, Gadsden City; Caleb Besson, Coosa Christian; Joe Ponce, Sardis; Leon Chen, Hokes Bluff; Daylon Reaves, Hokes Bluff

Kicker: Read Barber, Westbrook

Defensive line: Colten Shields, Hokes Bluff; Jevonte Strong, Southside; Jordan Haney, Glencoe; Bryson Henry, Etowah; Jake Haney, Westbrook

Linebacker: Brayson Hays, Hokes Bluff; Ji’zeric Wynn, Gadsden City; Aiden Johnson, Glencoe; Noah Wright, Westbrook

Secondary: Dylan Edwards, Coosa Christian; Marty Wooten, Sr., West End; J.B. Potter, Ashville; Trustin Granger, Gaston; Silas Osborne, Southside; Brody Blevins, Westbrook

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