With a talented senior class, Thomas County Central expected to have a banner season in 2013.
While the Yellow Jackets made a surprising first-round playoff exit, that loaded senior class still found plenty of honors on the Times-Enterprise All-Area team. Central led the way with 10 players named to the first team, with eight of those being seniors.
Central’s new career rushing leader, Adam Choice, made the All-Area team for the third straight season as he followed up a pair of Offensive Player of the Year awards by capturing the Most Valuable Player honor as a senior. Choice, who is committed to Clemson, rushed for 1,521 yards and 14 touchdowns before dislocating his shoulder in the third quarter of the Jackets’ regular-season finale at Harris County.
Joining Choice in the All-Area backfield is Central running mate Deondre Cooksey. Even prior to taking over the controls of the Jackets’ veer offense following the injury to Choice, Cooksey was concluding his career with a stellar senior season as he rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns. Thomasville High’s Mario Cherry was the other first-team running back after he rushed for an area-leading 1,604 yards and 21 touchdowns in earning Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Up front, Central put two senior linemen on the team in Reggie Mobley and Sam Long, while Cairo also had two seniors recognized on the offensive line in Tyler Shepard and Richard Walker. Thomasville’s Allen Robinson is the lone underclassmen on the offensive line.
The Bulldogs had a pair of juniors honored for their pass-catching abilities. Wide receiver Javier McGriff was the area’s top threat as he hauled in 41 catches for 487 yards. Tight end Helon Hammonds had 10 catches for 187 yards and five touchdowns.
Rounding out the offensive weapons was Brookwood’s Cale Deese. Before taking over as the Warriors’ quarterback prior to the start of region play, the sophomore was a jack of all trades — playing the slot as well as backing up at running back and quarterback. He also returned kicks, averaging 27 yards a return as he was named a utility player on the All-Area team. Deese led the Warriors with 1,489 yards rushing as well as throwing for 515 yards and catching five passes for 31 yards.
Central kicker Gavin Wilson, another senior, hit 44 of 45 extra points and making three field goals, including a 47-yarder. Joining him on the special teams is Cairo’s senior punter Taylor Donalson, who averaged 38 yards a kick to repeat as an All-Area selection.
Also repeating on the All-Area team were a pair of Jacket defenders in senior linebacker Jarell Jones and junior defensive end Austin Bryant. Jones led the Jackets with 89 tackles, while Bryant, who moved from linebacker to defensive end this season, had 64 tackles, forced three fumbles, recovered two and had five sacks.
Bryant was joined on the defensive front by senior teammate Austin Parmer, who had 77 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Thomasville’s Edward Anderson finished with 61 tackles, eight for loss, and four sacks, while Cairo’s Andre Hadley had 40 tackles with 15 assists and recovered a pair of fumbles as well as having three sacks.
The Syrupmakers’ leading tackler was linebacker Marcus Gaines, who had 71 stops and 33 assists. He and Jones were joined at linebacker by Thomasville’s Calvin Perkins, who had 57 tackles, including four for a loss.
Perkins’ teammate Jay Bowdry headlines the secondary as he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. The junior safety led Thomasville with 100 tackles despite missing a game due to injury and playing hurt in the Bulldogs’ playoff loss to Lamar County. Bowdry also forced two fumbles, recovered three and had a pair of interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Also in the secondary are Brookwood senior Garrett Harvard, who picked off seven passes, Central’s Ernest Harris and Cairo’s Dontavious Gurley.
Thomasville’s Leroy Ryals was the Coach of the Year.