As the 2017 high school football season winds down, it’s time to hand out some season awards. There has been great football played across the mid state this fall and we are here to honor some of the stand out performers. Below we name the offensive and defensive Middle Tennessee MVPs for each football classification. (Note: Stats used are from the maxpreps.com team pages)
Division I- Class A
Offense: Braxton Givens, Gordonsville
Defense: Brock Powers, Cornersville
Braxton Givens has been electric for the Gordonsville Tigers this year. Givens has over 1,500 rushing yards and has totaled 16 touchdowns on the season. He has power greater than his size and sets up his blockers to perfection. Gordonsville is undefeated in Region 4-1A and their only losses have come to Watertown, Trousdale County, and Smith County. Those three teams are all in higher classification and have a combined record of 18-7. The Tigers and Braxton Givens are going to be a tough out come 1A playoff time.
This is quite possibly the best Cornersville football team in history. The Bulldogs sit at 7-1 with the only loss coming to a very good Eagleville team. A large part of that success is a defensive unit that has only given up 79 points across five games in Region 5-1A. Brock Powers is an anchor on that unit at the defensive end position. Powers is more than capable of rushing the quarterback with six sacks recorded on the year. However, his best attribute on tape is his ability to read the play, shed his blocker, and attack the run carrier either to the inside or outside of his position. There are several examples on film of Powers shutting down an option play single handedly by reading the intention of the quarterback and shutting down the ball carrier.
Division I- 2A
Offense: Tre Davidson, Columbia Academy
Defense: Heath Price, Watertown
Tre Davidson is peaking at the right time. The Columbia Academy running back has scored 7 of his 10 total touchdowns in the previous three games for the Bulldogs and gained 506 yards over that same span. Davidson has great feet and his ability to make defenders miss in small spaces is uncanny. Columbia Academy’s game against Lewis County this Friday night will determine the champion of Region 5-2A.
Heath Price attacks the ball carrier downhill. That’s what he does. He has 74 tackles on the year and is terrific at setting the edge from his outside linebacker position. He is a receiver on offense and that speed shows in his pursuit to the ball carrier on every play. Watertown is a solid football team that will be looking to avenge an early season loss to Trousdale County in the playoffs.
Division I- 3A
Offense: Darius James, Fairview
Defense: David Anderson, Pearl-Cohn
Fairview is really good at running the ball. The cog to that well oiled machine is Darius James. James has 24 total touchdowns on the year with 21 of those coming via the rush. That isn’t a typo, 24 total touchdowns! In the 45-0 demolition of Camden Central, James had 106 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns on six total carries. It is rare to see the amount of patience he displays in a high school running back. James routinely allows his blockers to get in position before bursting up field. Fairview is a top contender to reach Cookeville in December.
Another 3A state title contender also resides in the mid state. Pearl Cohn has played an incredibly difficult schedule but has been crushing fellow 3A teams. One of my favorite players to watch on film is Firebird defensive back David Anderson. Anderson isn’t the biggest guy on the field but he attacks the ball with ferocity and will straight lay people out. He’s also one of the emotional leaders on the team and has piled up an impressive 87 tackles this fall. That includes 14 tackles against CPA and 16 against Marshall County that contributed to two of the Firebird’s most impressive wins.
Offense: Kamron Liggett, Marshall County
Defense: Micah Escue, Greenbrier
This season, Kamron Liggett became the all time touchdown leader in Marshall County High School history. He currently has 23 total touchdowns on the season and is the focal point of a Tigers offense that has scored 304 points on the season. Liggett has a strong frame and is almost always going forward at the end of a run. He is the type of rusher that gets stronger as the game goes along and is often taking advantage of a worn out defense in the fourth quarter.
Micah Escue has been key to the success of the Greenbrier Bobcats this season. Escue has 5 interceptions from his safety position and has added two blocked extra point attempts. He has good acceleration and doesn’t shy away from contact. Greenbrier is currently undefeated in Region 5-4A but will face their two toughest tests to conclude the season by traveling to Springfield and hosting White House.
Offense: Grayson Tramel, Shelbyville
Defense: Chaz Williamson, Beech
To say Shelbyville quarterback Grayson Tramel has had a stellar statistical season is an understatement. The junior QB has thrown for 2,902 yards and 29 touchdowns through eight games this year. This includes a single game TSSAA record 606 yards passing against Summit a few weeks ago. He especially shows great chemistry with star wide receiver Avery Brown who has been on the receiving end of over 1,200 of those passing yards. Shelbyville will host Page this Friday night in a game that could result in the winner hosting a first round playoff game.
The Beech Buccaneers have only given up 12.5 points per game in 2017. The man in the middle of this outstanding unit is senior MLB Chaz Williamson. Williamson is a decisive player that will attack full speed once a play is identified. He leads the team in tackles and has also contributed three sacks and three forced fumbles. Beech have emerged as potential 5A title contenders and will play Gallatin Friday for the Region 6-5A crown.
Offense: Devon Starling, Cane Ridge
Defense: Woodi Washington, Oakland
Devon Starling has been key to the lack of drop off from the Raven’s offense one year after losing talented QB DJ Thorpe to graduation. Starling has all the athletic tools needed to be a top caliber running back. His feet and vision are excellent and he possesses more than enough speed to get the job done. Where he truly shines, however, is the grit and determination with which he runs the ball. Starling will fight for every yard and has helped lead Cane Ridge to a 7-1 record and the brink of another region title.
Woodi Washington is one of the most impressive players I’ve seen in person this season. Washington is unbelievable defending the ball when it is in the air but is equally willing to get physical against the run. He had two interceptions against Blackman while guarding the larger bodied FBS recruit Trey Knox. Washington’s play this season has had the college offers pouring in with Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, Florida, and Oregon among the schools to offer him a scholarship. Oakland is committed to controlling the ball on offense and playing great defense. Washington is the shut down corner the Patriots will rely on during their playoff run.
Offense: Da’joun Hewitt, Davidson Academy
Defense: Taylor Carman, Friendship Christian
Da’joun Hewitt has over 1,500 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns in 2017. The rest of the Davidson Academy football team has 19 touchdowns combined. The beauty is in the fact that every defense knows Hewitt is going to be the focal point of the offense but few have found any method to slow him down. Hewitt has home run speed that severely punishes any defender found out of position. He also has demonstrated good hands receiving the ball out of the backfield or lined up as a traditional wide receiver. Davidson Academy has essentially locked up Division II A West Region and will be an opponent no one wants to see in the playoffs.
A potential playoff rival to Davidson Academy will be Friendship Christian. The Commanders have a stout defense led by MLB Taylor Carman. Carman has 89 tackles this season with 3 sacks and an interception. Carman flows to the ball well and rarely misses a tackle opportunity. Friendship Christian have only had a single game decided by less than two touchdowns and their shut down defense will be a tough matchup in what could be an extended run into November.
Offense: Ryan Eledge, CPA
Defense: Conner Mitchell, BGA
CPA was a really good semifinal team in 2016. This year’s squad appears to be even stronger. One area of definite growth is at the quarterback position. Ryan Eledge did a good job managing the offense a year ago as a sophomore. However, he has really taken the next step in his junior campaign this fall and is a real threat passing the ball. Eledge has over 1,400 yards passing and an outstanding touchdown-interception ratio. He understands down and distance situations and is quick with his decision making and ball delivery. CPA has always been able to run the ball but the increased threat through the air put them into an elite class in DII AA.
The safety position is often the last line of defense between a moderate gain and a game changing long touchdown play. Conner Mitchell for BGA is a sure tackler that has helped solidify the Wildcat defense. Mitchell has good ball skills in pass defense but his primary function is a hard hitting run support specialist. He has a team high 78 tackles this fall and flies to the ball carrier at every opportunity. BGA’s only regional contest remaining is against winless Lipscomb Academy with a home playoff game rewarded with a victory.
Offense: Tomario Pleasant, Brentwood Academy
Defense: Jaylon King, Ensworth
Tomario Pleasant is one of the best players on what many people consider to be the best team in the state of Tennessee. The Eagles are outscoring opponents 277-86 after seven games and have not been challenged with a close game by any in-state opponent. Pleasant is the home run hitter of the offense and is a threat anytime he reaches the perimeter of the defense. He is also highly skilled at looking for cut back lanes and has the athletic ability to cut on a dime and accelerate through the open lane. Brentwood Academy hope Pleasant hits a few of those home run touchdowns this Friday night against rival MBA.
If you are a fan of high school football, (and I am assuming you are since you are reading) you need to go watch Jaylon King’s highlight tape from this season. The Georgia Tech commit has done it all for the Ensworth Tigers this fall. He has punt return touchdowns, kick return touchdowns, one handed interceptions and crushing hits. King is a stand out athlete in a division filled with great athletes. The Tigers have some impressive wins this season and have the talent to play with anybody come playoff time.