Derion Kendrick’s performance in South Pointe’s 4A state title victory was the culmination of a season in which the junior quarterback continually improved.
His natural athleticism was obvious to anyone that had seen him play in the Stallions’ secondary and cameo intermittently on offense during the last two seasons. But how would he do at QB, somewhat constrained by an offensive system?
Pretty well, it turns out. Kendrick - called “D.K.” by many - threw for over 3,300 yards and 37 touchdowns and also ran for over 600 yards and eight more scores. He even caught two passes.
Kendrick is the choice for The Herald’s 2016 All-Area offensive player of the year over Chester’s Malik Williams, who had one of the best individual seasons around. Williams broke a school record for single-season touchdowns and helped drive the Cyclones back into playoff contention.
The Herald’s 2016 All-Area football team will be printed in the Sunday, Jan. 8 newspaper.
But Kendrick’s contributions came against one of the toughest schedules in the state. The Stallions beat seven teams that were ranked in either North or South Carolina, and their only loss came against a private school from Maryland.
Against the last of the seven ranked teams - state final foe Hartsville - Kendrick was awesome, throwing for five touchdowns, four of which came in a second quarter burst that all but locked up South Pointe’s third straight state title.
Kendrick filled a huge hole at QB left by the 2015 All-Area player of the year, Greg Ruff, and the same thing happened in South Pointe’s secondary.
The Herald’s 2016 defensive player of the year, Ken’darius Fredrick, helped fill the vacuum left by the graduation of defensive backs Nick McCloud and Chris Smith, ACC and SEC recruits. Fredrick did some of everything for the Stallions, making 120 tackles, intercepting seven passes and proving a menace in special teams.
His emergence was no surprise. A three-year starter, ”K.D” as he’s known, was heavily involved in the Stallions’ previous two state titles. But his experience was needed more than ever this year with so many new starters in the South Pointe secondary.
That group allowed just 14 passing touchdowns in 15 games. Fredrick patrolled the second level like a hungry hawk and had no problems rushing the line of scrimmage to make tackles in the run game too.
Colleges noticed, and Fredrick will begin his tour of official visits this weekend when - weather permitting - he heads down to The Citadel. Charleston Southern and Chattanooga are also on the docket.
Kendrick’s active recruitment has been well documented, and while he likely won’t play QB in college, he did demonstrate abilities to adhere to a system, learn on the fly and continually improve. Both players have plenty of good options laid before them; they also have a new honor to add to their resumes.
Offensive player of the year: Derion Kendrick, South Pointe
Defensive player of the year: Ken’darius Fredrick, South Pointe
Coach of the year: Strait Herron, South Pointe
OL - Garrett Lutz, Clover - center graded 92 percent with 50 knockdowns in the Blue Eagles’ run-heavy offense.
OL - Alex Lais, South Pointe - senior played all across the offensive line, grading 91 percent with 38 big-time blocks, as offensive line coach Mike Zapolnik called them, and 15 pancakes. Lais only allowed three sacks in 15 games.
OL - Dylan Thomas, South Pointe - another Stallion offensive line anchor, Thomas graded 92 percent and allowed just two sacks in 15 contests. He recorded 30 big-time blocks and nine pancakes for an offense that averaged around 40 points per game.
OL - Danny Warren, York - key two-way player for the Cougars graded 90 percent and finished the season with 36 knockdowns.
OL - Xi Simpson, Chester - senior graded out at 84 percent with 46 knockdown blocks, many of which helped spring QB Malik Williams en route to his school record-breaking season.
QB - Derion Kendrick, South Pointe - in his first year at QB, Kendrick completed 63 percent of his 350 pass attempts for 3,348 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also ran for 630 yards and eight more scores and enabled the Stallions’ offense to hardly miss a beat after losing last season’s All-Area player of the year, QB Greg Ruff. Without Kendrick, it’s tough to say South Pointe would have won a third straight state title. Kendrick earned a slew of awards, including Region 3-4A player of the year, WSOC’s Big 22 player of the year, the Tri-County Coaches Association 4A, 5A offensive player of the year, and MaxPreps named him a Junior Class All-American.
RB - Jerry Howard, Northwestern - Shrine Bowl pick and Georgia Tech commit ran for 1,088 yards and 15 touchdowns, and was a capable pass-catcher too, snagging a team-high 49 passes for 402 yards and three scores.
RB - Voshon St. Hill, South Pointe - senior ran the ball 178 times for 1,201 yards and 23 touchdowns, and was the team’s second leading receiver with 30 catches (375 yards and two touchdowns). St. Hill averaged nearly 7 yards per carry and had four runs over 50 yards this season.
WR - Alex Stennett, Nation Ford - call-up to the Shrine Bowl squad caught 74 passes for 1,208 yards and 17 touchdowns. Stennett was the leading receiver in the area by a couple hundred yards and was named All-State by USA Today.
WR - Mike Hill, Lewisville - dynamic North-South all-star made 41 catches for 905 yards and 12 touchdowns, and also had 82 carries for 586 yards and eight more touchdowns despite missing a few games with injury.
WR - Jae’vion Matthews, York - senior caught 65 passes for 834 yards and four touchdowns, while averaging over 30 yards per kickoff return and over 10 per punt return. Matthews also made 40 tackles, broke up six passes and intercepted two more.
ATH - Malik Williams, Chester - Williams ran the ball 197 times for 1,565 yards and 27 touchdowns and completed 110 of 184 passes for 1,779 yards and 14 touchdowns, with just two interceptions. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Williams set Chester’s single-season record for total touchdowns and also played receiver in the North-South all-star game. He was the Tri-County Coaches Association 1A, 2A, 3A offensive player of the year and the Region 4-3A player of the year, and will play college football at Appalachian State.
DL - Darryl Manning, Lewisville - senior edge rusher was named Tri-County Coaches Association 1A, 2A, 3A defensive player of the year after a disruptive campaign in which he made 116 tackles with 16 sacks and 28 tackles-for-loss.
DL - Markees Watts, Lancaster - Tri-County Coaches Association 4A, 5A defensive player of the year made close to 30 tackles-for-loss and had 17 sacks. He also broke up eight passes, blocked a field goal and returned a fumble for a touchdown (those stats from the first 10 games).
DL - Eli Adams, South Pointe - Adams was kept a little quieter as a junior after a breakout sophomore season, but was still one of the most dangerous defensive linemen in the area. He finished with 95 tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss and 10 sacks. He also forced three fumbles and returned one for a touchdown in the playoffs against Belton-Honea Path.
LB - Bryson Cooper, South Pointe - Shrine Bowl pick made 197 tackles, with 15 for a loss. Cooper had three sacks and a fumble recovery in a leading role for the South Pointe defense. Cooper was named All-State by USA Today.
LB - Cort Neely, South Pointe - Neely made 195 tackles as a senior, including 14 for a loss. He also had an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for the Stallions.
LB - Corbin Tesimale, Nation Ford - senior linebacker made 122 tackles, including 12 for a loss, with two sacks, a recovered fumble and a defensive touchdown.
LB - Caliph Brice, Northwestern - senior linebacker played in the North-South all-star game. He made 115 tackles, with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and showed great pass coverage skills with seven pass break-ups and two interceptions.
DB - Quay Hardin, Chester - junior announced himself as a big-time college prospect with a big season. The 6-foot-2 Hardin made 60 tackles, broke up 10 passes and intercepted nine more. He also had 319 yards and four touchdowns as a part-time receiver.
DB - Jamari Currence, South Pointe - junior corner had a solid season, making 67 tackles and picking off seven passes. Currence also made four tackles-for-loss and forced a fumble.
DB - Ken’darius Fredrick, South Pointe - Fredrick made 120 tackles, picked off seven passes and forced and recovered a fumble as a stalwart in South Pointe’s secondary. The senior defensive back was picked for the Shrine Bowl, though he didn’t get to play because of the Stallions’ title run, and he also averaged over 17 yards per punt return with one return for a touchdown.
DB - Ali Shockley, Northwestern - senior safety was one of the leading tacklers in the area, notching 171 stops and blocking three kicks. Shockley played in the North-South all-star game.
K/P - B.T. Potter, South Pointe - easily one of the best kickers in the state, Potter continually won the field position battle for his team. The junior hit 95 of 105 kickoffs into the end zone for a touchback, and also averaged 39 yards per punt on 56 attempts, with 21 downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Potter made 12 of 19 field goals, with a long of 49 yards, a new school record, and was also named a Junior Class All-American by MaxPreps.
OL - Preston Vang, Clover - bruising guard graded 92 percent with 39 knockdowns.
OL - Clint Jenkins, Clover - senior graded 88 percent with 31 knockdown blocks for the Blue Eagles.
OL - Tim Washington, Rock Hill - Bearcats’ best blocker graded out 88 percent with 18 knockdowns.
OL - Qay Simpson, Lewisville - not terribly big but very physical, Simpson graded 81 percent with seven pancakes and 34 knockdowns.
OL - Keyshawn Freeman, South Pointe - left tackle graded 86 percent with 21 big-time blocks and six pancakes.
QB - Kirk Rygol, Nation Ford - Rygol was a late call-up for the Shrine Bowl, just reward for an excellent senior season. The transfer from Virginia completed 71 percent of his 376 pass attempts for 3,458 yards and 34 touchdowns. Rygol threw just seven interceptions, while also rushing for 489 yards and five more scores.
RB - Quentin Sanders, Lewisville - Sanders rushed for 1,175 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and also had 37 catches for 516 yards and four more TDs.
RB - Farrika Grier, Lancaster - Grier ran the ball 185 times for 1,113 yards and 13 touchdowns, carrying the load for the Bruins with backfield mate Ant Foster banged up for much of the season.
WR - John Erby, Chester - Chester’s main downfield threat had 39 catches for 835 yards and seven touchdowns - an average of over 21 yards per grab - and also handled all of Chester’s kicking and punting with great success.
WR - Kenny Agurs, Rock Hill - Agurs made 58 catches for 833 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging 23.2 yards per kickoff return and 12 yards per punt return.
WR - J.P. Pendergrass, South Pointe - led South Pointe in receiving with 56 catches for 723 yards and 11 touchdowns. Pendergrass also averaged over 24 yards per kickoff return.
ATH - Halen Burgess, Nation Ford - versatile senior caught 66 passes for 735 yards and six scores and also made 47 tackles and four pass break-ups as key two-way player for the Falcons.
DL - Jene Thompson, Lewisville - Thompson was named the South Carolina Football Coaches Association’s 1A Upper State lineman of the year after notching 76 tackles, 14 sacks and 30 tackles-for-loss as a senior. Thompson also had four fumble recoveries and an interception in 10 games.
DL - Ethan McGriff, Chester - senior made 93 tackles, with six for a loss, and recorded 12 sacks and 13 QB pressures.
DL - Radarrius Wright, Chester - three-year starter was destructive off the edge opposite McGriff, recording 91 tackles, 16 sacks, 10 tackles-for-loss and 10 quarterback pressures.
LB - Jaylen McFadden, Lewisville - junior made 123 tackles, with 17 tackles-for-loss and three fumble recoveries.
LB - Vinny Catan, Nation Ford - linebacker made 120 tackles, with seven for a loss and three sacks.
LB - Kendrick Hicks, Rock Hill - senior made 83 tackles, with eight for a loss, recorded two sacks and broke up five passes. Hicks also recovered a fumble and was named to the Shrine Bowl where he captained the South Carolina team. USA Today also named Hicks to its All-State team.
LB - B.J. Davis, South Pointe - big play-maker in the Stallions’ linebacker group, Davis made 80 tackles, intercepted four passes, forced two fumbles and recovered two more. He scored two defensive touchdowns, and also caught an offensive touchdown pass in South Pointe’s state championship win.
DB - Harry Goodwin, Nation Ford - senior made 78 tackles, broke up 12 passes and intercepted two. He also forced and recovered a fumble.
DB - Chase Yoder, Lewisville - junior was a ball-hawk in the Lions’ secondary, making 10 pass break-ups and intercepting seven passes, to go with 39 tackles.
DB - Zion McClinton, York - McClinton made 93 tackles, broke up nine passes and intercepted one, caused a fumble and recovered two more in a busy season in the Cougars’ secondary.
DB - Ryan Heriot, Fort Mill - excellent two-way player made 70 tackles and intercepted four passes, with one returned for a touchdown. Heriot also rushed for close to 400 yards after moving to running back later in the season.
K/P - Zhenya Deller, Rock Hill - North-South all-star was 7 of 10 on field goals this season with a long of 45 and also kicked 30 touchbacks. Deller averaged 33 yards per punt, with seven downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
OL - Josiah Ivey, Northwestern - leader of the Trojans’ o-line graded 82 percent with 12 pancakes.
OL - Wyatt Tunall, Chester - promising sophomore graded 81 percent with 27 knockdowns for the Cyclones.
OL - Jackson McDowell, Clover - hulking tackle graded 83 percent with 52 knockdowns.
OL - K.D. Canaty, Northwestern - converted defensive lineman transitioned pretty successfully, grading 83 percent with seven pancakes.
OL - DeAllen Boulware, Lewisville - senior made over 600 snaps with only one bad one, and graded 77 percent with 28 knockdowns.
QB - Gage Moloney, Northwestern - South Carolina’s 2016 Mr. Football saw his season end with a broken bone in his wrist in the first round of the playoffs, which precluded him from playing in the Shrine Bowl too. Moloney, a James Madison commitment, completed 63 percent of his 334 passes for 2,740 yards and 24 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. Moloney also ran for seven touchdowns and was named All-State by USA Today.
RB - Semaj Lakin, Clover - junior had 148 carries for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns.
RB - Paul Moore, York - ran for 812 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.
WR - Wally Wilmore, Northwestern - Army commitment’s season was disrupted by a hamstring injury but he made 41 catches for 690 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games for the Trojans, and was also a late call-up to the Shrine Bowl as a defensive back.
WR - Dewuan McCullum, Nation Ford - sophomore will be one to watch next season after making 43 catches this fall for 769 yards and three scores. Besides gaining over 16 yards per catch, McCullum also averaged 23 yards per punt return and 20 yards per kickoff return.
WR - Qua Brice, Rock Hill - senior made 52 catches for 722 yards and nine touchdowns. Brice also averaged 20.3 yards per kickoff return and 12.5 per punt return, and he also played a little bit of defense, making an interception.
ATH - Ronnie Hughes, Fort Mill - senior played in all three phases for the Yellow Jackets, piling up nearly 1,100 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns, while also making 35 tackles, breaking up four passes and intercepting four.
DL - Jalen Pickett-Hicks, South Pointe - junior d-lineman was a play-maker for the Stallions up front, notching 111 tackles, including 11 for a loss, four sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception. Pickett-Hicks returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Stallions’ state championship victory.
DL - Christian Steele, Northwestern - Steele jumped into the starting lineup for injured standout Logan Rudolph and did a nice job, making 81 tackles and recording eight sacks and five tackles-for-loss.
DL - Josh Belk, Lewisville - junior showed more consistent flashes of his immense potential, recording 78 tackles, seven sacks and 23 tackles-for-loss.
LB - Desmond Ricks, Lancaster - North-South all-star was a defensive leader for the Bruins and has committed to play college ball at South Carolina State.
LB - Deedric Cousar, South Pointe - senior had a breakout season, making 174 tackles, with 10 for a loss, an interception and a fumble recovery for the Stallion defense.
LB - J.T. Sanders, York - senior notched 107 tackles, with 12 for a loss and six sacks, while intercepting two passes and forcing and recovering two fumbles. Sanders also played some fullback for the Cougars, scoring a few touchdowns.
LB - Patrick Mead, Fort Mill - senior linebacker made 94 tackles, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and recorded two sacks.
DB - Ben Tuipulotu, Nation Ford - junior made 87 tackles, broke up seven passes and intercepted one, while also catching 24 passes on offense with three TD grabs.
DB - Grant Stevens, Fort Mill - Stevens made 104 tackles, broke up four passes and blocked a kick as a leader in the Yellow Jackets’ secondary.
DB - Chesia Coleman, Rock Hill - senior defensive back did a little of everything for the Bearcats, recording 66 tackles, intercepting four passes, making four tackles-for-loss and three sacks, breaking up five passes and blocking a pair of kicks.
DB - Nick Truesdale, Rock Hill - senior made the North-South all-star game after a 55-tackle season with four tackles-for-loss and seven pass break-ups. Truesdale also intercepted a pass and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
K/P - Myles Prosser, York - long-legged kicker was effective at kicking off for touchbacks and averaged 38 yards per punt for the Cougars.