Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Southside’s Gauge NeSmith was on target more often than not this past football season.
After finishing the year with a combined 2,724 total yards and 30 touchdowns passing and rushing, the junior quarterback was selected as the Player of the Year for the All-Etowah County Schools team as selected by the six county head football coaches.
NeSmith (pictured above), who helped the Panthers gain a second straight playoff berth, was 134 for 232 in passing for 2,096 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for 628 yards and nine scores. In his two full seasons as a starter, Nesmith has thrown for 4,027 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Glencoe senior quarterback Nolan Fairley and West End junior linebacker Josh Carroll were named the team’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Fairley did most of his damage on the ground in the Yellow Jackets’ run-oriented offense, rushing for 1,049 yards and 12 touchdowns on 204 carries. He was 18 of 56 in passing for 252 yards and a score. Carroll was the bane of opposing running backs with a county-best 152 tackles, including 14 for a loss, and 10 quarterback hurries.
Coach of the Year honors went to West End’s Derrick Sewell. In his second year in charge of the program, Sewell guided the Patriots to a 7-4 record and the team’s first postseason berth in six years. It was also West End’s first winning record since 2015.
First team offense
Quarterback: Conner Masters, senior, Hokes Bluff
Running back: Kobe Harris, senior, Gaston; Noah Sprayberry, senior, Hokes Bluff; Mason Teague, senior, Southside; Rock Sainsbury, junior, West End
Receiver: Cole Stone, senior, Hokes Bluff; Garrett Burns, senior, Sardis; Cody Roberts, senior, Southside; Thad Pearce, senior, West End
Tight end: Garrett Gaskin, senior, Glencoe
Offensive line: Kyle Fitts, junior, Gaston; Nehemiah Samples, sophomore, Gaston; Luke Hollingsworth, junior, Gaston; Taylor Wescott, senior, Glencoe; Gage Garner, junior, Sardis; Jacob Strunk, senior, Southside; Mark Fuller, senior, Southside
Kicker: Gavin Bray, senior, Glencoe
Athlete: Blaze Gerhart, junior, Sardis
First team defense
Defensive line: Jordan Haney, junior, Glencoe; Kaleb Coshatt, senior, Hokes Bluff; Dakota Holcomb, senior, Hokes Bluff; Joe Ponce, junior, Sardis; Dakota McKay, senior, West End; Jeremiah Smith, senior, West End
Linebacker: Josh Hester, junior, Gaston; Caleb Chapman, senior, Glencoe; Jaylen Simmons, senior, Hokes Bluff; Levi Martin, freshman, Sardis; Tytan Rich, junior, Southside; Evan Stancil, senior, West End
Secondary: Cooper Horton, sophomore, Glencoe; Anderson Morgan, sophomore, Hokes Bluff; Koal Garett, sophomore, Southside; Jaxon Hamby, freshman, West End
Punter: Brylon Pilkington, senior, Hokes Bluff
Athlete: Luke Martin, junior, Sardis
Gaston: Kodie Bogle, Keller Skaggs, Layden Staton
Glencoe: Carter Cook, Lucas Huff, Aaron Mann, Kevin Rodriquez
Hokes Bluff: Leon Chen, Layton Horne, Dylan Lancaster, Coleman McGinnis, Logan Weiman
Sardis: Bryson Blevins, Carson Gillilan, Eli Morton, Jacob Smith
Southside: Brayden Bowers, Jordan Bo-wers, Smiley Jones, Brody McCutcheon, Cayden McMichael, Scotty Motes, Jake Stewart
West End: Triston Chaney, Eli Golden, Tyler Jones, Kane Lawson, Jackson Price