The 2019 All-State Football Teams as selected by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution were released Thursday and several area players were honored.
Two players were named to the Class AAA first team: North Murray senior Ladd McConkey was named the first team Athlete, while Fannin Co. junior Luke Holloway was named the first team Punter.
Dawson Co. placed two players on the Honorable Mention list: senior defensive back Riley Herndon and junior place kicker Caleb Bonesteel.
North Murray senior linebacker Dylan Flood was also named an Honorable Mention.
In Class AA, two players from Rabun Co. were named to the first team: sophomore quarterback Gunner Stockton and senior wide receiver Braxton Hicks.
Union Co. senior quarterback Pierson Allison was named an Honorable Mention in Class AA.
The Region 7-3A All-Region Team was announced Tuesday, Dec. 17, and multiple members of the Fannin Co. football team were honored.
The entire team is as follows:
Player of the year: JT Fair, North Hall, senior running back/defensive back
Offensive MVP: Jackson Hardy, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior quarterback
Defensive MVP: Riley Herndon, Dawson Co., senior defensive back
Special Teams MVP: Caleb Bonesteel, Dawson Co., junior place kicker
Athlete of the Year: Dakohta Sonnichsen, Dawson Co., junior wide receiver
Lineman of the Year: Myles Hinton, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior offense/defense
Academic Player of the Year: Tino Mukono, Cherokee Bluff, senior defensive back
QB – Zach Holtzclaw, Dawson Co., sophomore
RB – Treylynn Owensby, Fannin Co., senior
RB – Jayquan Smith, Cherokee Bluff, sophomore
RB – Montavious Taber, East Hall, junior
RB – Jacob Dickey, North Hall, junior
FB – Will Mosley, Fannin Co., senior
WR – Christian Thomas, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
WR – Jaden Gibson, Dawson Co., freshman
WR – Drew Highfield, East Hall, senior
WR – Brooks Miller, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
TE – Thomas Lawson, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
OL – Addison Nichols, Greater Atlanta Christian, sophomore
OL – Austin Sullens, North Hall, senior
OL – Micah Holman, North Hall, senior
OL – Mason Bundy, Fannin Co., junior
OL – Miles Johnson, Fannin Co., senior
OL – Mateo Guevera, Cherokee Bluff, sophomore
ATH/RB/DB – Tyler Bride, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DL – Spencer Helms, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DL – Logan Hawthorne, North Hall, senior
DL – Nate Nixon, North Hall, senior
DL – Dakota Collins, Cherokee Bluff, junior
DL – Aaron Hopkins, Lumpkin Co., senior
DL – Jakob Tuggle, Fannin Co., senior
LB – Choe Bryant-Strother, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
LB – DJ Mitchell, Dawson Co., senior
LB – Dalton Battle, North Hall, junior
LB – Jackson Weeks, Fannin Co., senior
LB – Micah O’Neal, Fannin Co., junior
DB – Luke Volle, North Hall, senior
DB – Brody Howell, Dawson Co., senior
DB – Evan Byrd, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DB – Joseph Rose, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
DB – Breadon Hubbard, Dawson Co., sophomore
P – Luke Holloway, Fannin Co., junior
P – Jacob Carlson, Cherokee Bluff, senior
PK – Tyler Curland, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
SPEC – Zac Mixon, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
On Wednesday I stopped by one of the local rec departments to iron out some details for an upcoming event that Team FYN Sports plans to cover. As often happens in small towns where time seems to move a little slower, you can’t go into a place where people are as close as a rec department and just have your meeting and leave. You end up talking about something like, in this case sports, that leads into one topic after another. Add a couple more people into the mix that you haven’t seen in a while and soon enough you glance down at your watch and you’ve been there for two hours with no idea where the time went. Southerners especially know what I mean.
Anyway, naturally with this being SEC country we had to talk about college football. And even more so when one of the people in the conversation was a Tennessee fan (you know who you are!)
Eventually our conversation turned to memories of our first college football games. The memories spanned years and were entwined with heartfelt stories of family, friends and Sanford stadium. There were tales of witnessing games where records were set and broken, of firsts and lasts. A couple of us could even recall games with rivalries so bitter that a rowdy fan from the opposing team was either physically injured or injured with glares.
For each of us that was sitting in the room we had a look of wonder in our eye. We were recalling memories that were so precious to us that we wouldn’t trade them for all the University of Florida defeats in the world. Especially the ones were loved ones were involved. Those are always the most precious.
Hearing those glorious tales took me back to my own first University of Georgia game. I couldn’t tell you who they were playing, but I remember watching the team run out with the big Georgia flag and feeling a since of pride I hadn’t felt before. I was with my mom and my grandparents. I had never seen my Nana get so rowdy. And my Papa Skip was especially proud to have the three most important women in his life with him and dressed in red and black. And a new love was born for me.
As a side note, my brother would later commit the ultimate sin in that side of the family and declare himself to be a Florida fan. I’m sure it broke Papa’s heart at the time, but he soon got over it when he had someone to accompany him to the Georgia/Florida game besides my Nana. Such is the seriousness of rivalries in the Southeastern Conference.
I know I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I firmly believe that nothing besides religion brings people together like a football game. Which is probably why it’s so common to refer to football as a religion in the South. You may hate someone during the week, but come Saturday morning if you’re both wearing red and black you’re going to at least be cordial.
I know that it may be more intense in other college towns, but in Athens people will arrive a full day early to claim their tailgating spots. Red and black tents flood the streets of downtown on every plot of grass that grows. Women (including myself) will go to get their nails and hair done ahead of time, and dress to the nine in ninety degree weather. There is no telling how many hundreds of thousands of dollars get spent on food and drinks for one weekend of tailgating alone.
I was recently watching an old episode of the show Designing Women. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, it’s about four women running an interior design firm in Atlanta. In one scene Julia Sugarbaker, who is the sharp-tongued primary owner of the firm, is leaving for a football game with one of her co-workers. Sadly, she was going to a Georgia Tech game, but we’ll overlook that part for now.
As the two characters are heading out the door, Julia says that she and her husband used to plan their weekends around the Georgia Tech games. She quips, “In the East, football is a cultural exercise. In the Midwest, it’s cannibalism. In the West, it’s a tourist attraction. But in the South, it’s a religion!”
According to a Fannin County Football tweet, the Rebels played the Copper Basin Cougars for the first time last night since 1997. After waiting for twenty-two years, the rival teams finally went head to head in a scrimmage once again. The stadium was packed and the energy was high. Fans from all over came out to see how the game would unfold.
Fannin came out ready to play and it showed from their performance. For Fannin’s first offensive play of the game, junior quarterback Luke Holloway threw a long pass to wide receiver Cohutta Hyde for a touchdown straight out of the gate. Sara Sosebee and Alex White were on fire with their 100% made field goals. It didn’t take long for the Rebels defense to take down the Cougars offense. Fannin gained a lot of yards by having a good passing game throughout the night. The Rebels scored their second touchdown of the night by a pass to senior running back, Treylyn Owensby. As Basin had the ball on offense, it wasn’t far up the field before Rebel, Seth Reece, intercepted the ball to end the first quarter with Fannin ahead 14-0.
Owensby was the go to guy for Holloway to hand off to and gain yards. As the Rebels got closer to the end zone, Luke made a pass to Hyde in the corner for another touchdown! On a Copper Basin first down, there was a long throw up the field to Cougar, Tim Jabley, for Basin’s first touchdown. When it came time for the field goal attempt, it was no good, putting the score at 21-6. That is until Fannin decided to follow the trend with a pass to Cohutta Hyde for another Rebel touchdown, closing out the second quarter with a score of 35-6.
The Cougars played a short amount of offense before Fannin was able to get the ball back. Once the Rebels had possession, Holloway made a pass to Hyde for him to score his fourth and final touchdown of the night. During Basin’s first offensive play, Carson Beavers got an interception and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. After Basin faced Fannin’s unstoppable defense, Caleb Postell was handed the ball and ran it to the end zone for another Rebel touchdown. Instead of kicking a field goal, Fannin went for a two point conversion, but failed at the attempt. The Rebels went into the fourth quarter with a 55-6 lead.
To start off the fourth quarter, freshman David Mashburn went in for Holloway as quarterback. Fannin mostly ran the ball during the fourth quarter and played a solid defense. Both teams held the other and stopped them from scoring more touchdowns. As the buzzer sounded, Fannin walked away with a 55-6 victory over Copper Basin!
Catch Fannin’s next scrimmage, Friday at Hayesville, starting at 7:30!
If any of you are under the age of 18 and reading this article, then I imagine this week was probably a tough week for you. I say that because the majority of schools in the state of Georgia started back this week.
I can remember being in high school and having a knot of dread in my stomach the night before the first day of school. I’ve never been a morning person, so having to get up early was my first problem. Add in all of the homework and having to spend my days in one building…it was easy to tell I wasn’t a school person.
The good news is there was always one bright spot in all of this gloom, and that was football season. I know I’ve said it before on our sports show, Instant Replay, and probably in this column as well, but in high school I lived for football season. I never missed a game, home or away. Granted I was in the colorguard with the marching band, so most of the time I HAD to go. But I can still remember a handful of games where we weren’t required to go, and some of my friends got together and still went anyway.
Those were good times, but I dare to say that these are even better. I’m thankful to have a job that pays me to follow a sport that I love. But on the other hand, it’s a job that’s helping me to get an inside look on other sports that are sometimes forgotten, especially in the South where football is a religion.
I covered my first softball game on Tuesday. I have watched and worked softball games in the past, so in my defense I knew what to expect, but it was my first time reporting on a game. It was the Lumpkin County Lady Indians against the Pickens Dragonettes in the Lady Indians home opener. One thing I loved about this game was that it wasn’t just smooth sailing, if you will. Just to give a brief recap, the Nettes put three runs on the board first. By the fifth inning, it was looking as though the Lady Indians might lose their home opener. But as with all great teams, the Lady Indians weren’t going down without a fight and ended up coming back to win 4-3. Ironically, I went to the next game where they played each other tonight and the Nettes ended up winning 9-4.
Softball is just one of several high school sports that is played in the fall. There’s also volleyball and cross country. While I haven’t gotten the chance to go cover either of these events yet, I know that I probably will be in the near future.
I’ve never personally played volleyball competitively, but I know several people who have. And from what I do know about it, there’s more technique to setting and hitting the ball than there seems. Whenever I play for fun at the beach I just feel lucky to get it over the net. But there are certain ways to prepare before you serve the ball and where to place your feet when you’re in an official match. I don’t see how players keep up with everything, other than that they practice. I know it’s got to feel great whenever you take all of your frustration out by smacking the ball.
Now I enjoy running, but I could never run cross country. I’ve seen the joke that says “my sport is your sport’s punishment” and to be honest, that’s how I feel because I don’t know how they do it. I can remember talking to cross country runners in high school, and them telling me that they would get up at 6 a.m. to run. And for some of them, the distances they would run blew my mind. But the other incredible thing to me about cross country is how much of a mental sport it is. Not only do runners have to be trained physically to maintain a certain time, they also have to be trained physically to encourage themselves to keep going.
The point I’m trying to make is that even though I’m still learning about other sports, I respect them because I do know how hard they work. I see the social media posts, I know people that play, and I see the teams out practicing well before their season starts. And even though the summer is ending and we’re back to school, the exciting thing is we’re past the days of camps and well on our way to the actual competition. I can’t wait to see what all of these young athletes accomplish.
Over the last week and a half BKP and I have been going from school to school interviewing head football coaches for our North Georgia Coaching Series. Now if any of y’all know BKP, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he’s been doing most of the talking and I’ve been doing most of the observing. But this doesn’t bother me, it gives me a chance to learn more about the programs I’ll be spending a lot of time with this fall.
With that being said, there’s one thing in particular I’ve been noticing in our interviews, and that’s how much these coaches truly care about their players and their programs.
Now me saying that might make some of y’all think, “Well, duh. That’s what they’re supposed to do.” Well, maybe. But I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up when someone is just putting on an act for appearances. And I can say with all sincerity that none of these coaches are doing that.
Obviously when BKP and I go into these interviews, he asks questions about what the teams have been doing during the summer and how they’re planning to prepare for the regular season. But he also asks the coaches if they can highlight a few players that have really stood out. This point in the interview, I believe, is where a coach who didn’t care would possibly just say a couple names and move on.
But these coaches not only name the players, they tell us about why they stand out. And it’s a sign of the hard work of these athletes, but there’s also a sense of pride from these coaches as they name them. A couple of coaches have mentioned that it’s hard to name just a few, because all of their players have worked hard. And it’s not that the rest of the team doesn’t matter or that they don’t care about them, but the ones that they mention they do so without hesitation because they’ve been there with them through the summer truly coaching them. There’s no so-so about the commitment these coaches make- they’re all in.
Another thing that has amazed me about these coaches, not just in the interviews but learning about them off the field, is how much they care about their community as well. A couple of them, such as Chad Cheatham at Fannin County and Chad McClure at Hayesville, are natives to their communities. It’s home to them, and they’re not going to be just halfway in their commitments to their programs.
When Coach Caleb Sorrells of the Lumpkin County Indians was first named as head coach, the school hosted a meet and greet for him. It was one of the first stories I covered in this position.
In his address to the parents, Sorrells promised to not only invest in the team as players and athletes, but as men who would one day be employees and fathers. I remember being caught off guard at first because I was expecting him to talk about plans for the future of the program, the summer schedule and what not. He did talk about these things, but I believe by telling the parents that he was going to invest in the players as men showed that it was going to be a priority.
Although I know more about the commitment that Sorrells has made because I’m positioned in Lumpkin County, he’s not the only one in the area who gets involved in the community and works to build up the athletes’ character.
Tim Cokely with the White County Warriors has an entire wall of his office decorated with signs of good character qualities to instill in the team. Chad Cheatham, who I mentioned earlier, referees basketball in the football off-season just because, and the community loves him for it. I’m sure that many of the other coaches in the area do similar things and I just don’t know about it yet.
These are commitments that we see played out by coaches in movies and don’t always think to look for in real life. And because I grew up in Gwinnett County, population one million, if there was this sort of commitment by coaches I didn’t always see it because there were so many people. I love living up here in North Georgia in a smaller community where an act of kindness, especially where sports are concerned, rarely goes unnoticed.
We think about football as a sport that instills a since of discipline, but why is that? Because there’s a coach that sets that standard and inspires the team to do the same. As a community we love football and we love our team, and we can thank a coach for that.
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After a two week break, the Fannin County Rebels are ready to get back to work.
“They came back in and seemed to be real fresh and excited, and we had a lot of good energy,” said Head Coach Chad Cheatham about their first practice back.
Although the Rebels graduated eleven seniors off the team from last year, the team is taking it in stride.
Cheatham mentioned the strengths of the freshmen and sophomores who played last year, and then went a little bit into recruiting for this year.
“We picked up several good kids, kids that left the program even in the spring when I first got here are starting to come back in,” said Cheatham.
Rebels fans know that Cheatham led the team to the playoffs last year for the first time in several years, so BKP asked Cheatham if the team had set a standard for this year.
“Absolutely,” replied Cheatham. “I think that not only just making the playoffs, but advancing now to the playoffs…I don’t think that these guys want to accept, or will accept, anything less than that.”
The full interview can be viewed below, only on FYN TV!