High School Football

Who won 2019 Tri-County Player of the Year awards? You’ve probably heard of them.

A Gabe Carroll touchdown pass here, a Tylik Edwards interception there, a Demetric Hardin catch anywhere — these moments helped make the 2019 high school football season special.

And on Tuesday, the players behind those moments were honored when the Tri-County Coaches Association voted for players of the week, players of the year and coaches of the year.

Nominations and pertinent statistics were provided by each school. Here are the results.

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South Pointe’s O’mega Blake carries the ball Friday. The South Pointe Stallions competed agains the York Cougars in varsity football. Tracy Kimball tkimball@heraldonline.com

5A, 4A Players of the Year

Offensive Player of the Year: Clover’s Gabe Carroll earned the 5A, 4A offensive player of the year award.

The senior quarterback was the signal-caller for the Blue Eagles, leading them to their first region championship since 2006 and first undefeated season in “modern program history” — which stems back to 1951.

Carroll powered the pass-heavy, prolific offense, completing 142-of-212 passes on the season for 2,242 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Nominations: Ger-Cari Caldwell (Northwestern), Nathan Mahaffey (Nation Ford), Tahleek Steele (South Pointe), O’Mega Blake (South Pointe).

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Ernie Greenwood of the undefeated and region champion South Pointe Stallions started every game in his junior season en route to winning 5A, 4A offensive lineman of the year.

For the season, Greenwood graded out at 93 percent and notched 38 knockdowns and 27 pancake blocks to go along with it. He helped pave the way for South Pointe’s rushing attack, which averaged just over 155 rushing yards a game.

Nominations: Carson Murray (Rock Hill).

Defensive Player of the Year: Choncey Massey also represented South Pointe when he won 5A, 4A defensive player of the year.

Massey notched 112 tackles, 56 solo tackles, 3.5 sacks, six tackles for loss and five quarterback pressures in his senior season. He also added two interceptions.

Nominations: Kam McCroey (Northwestern), Alex English (Rock Hill), Petey Tuipulotu (Nation Ford), Hayden Johnson (Clover).

Defensive Lineman of the Year: As a key component of a defense that only allowed 84.5 rushing yards per game and less than three yards per carry, Thomas Rainey of Rock Hill won the 5A, 4A defensive lineman of the year award.

On the season, Rainey notched 76 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and 26 quarterback hurries on Friday nights this season. He’ll continue his senior season when Rock Hill (7-3, 3-1 region) takes the field Friday in the 5A state playoffs.

Nominations: J’Quan Carter (Nation Ford), Rontarious Aldridge (South Pointe).

Special Teams Player of the Year: Two weeks ago, he said head coach Bubba Pittman called him the “big play guy.”

With Tuesday’s vote, it seems like other coaches around the Tri-County area agree.

On the season, Rock Hill’s Tylik Edwards recorded 354 punt return yards and two punt returns for touchdowns en route to winning the 5A, 4A special teams player of the year. As a kick returner, Edwards added 301 kick return yards and a touchdown.

Nominations: Quinn Castner (Nation Ford).

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Andrew Jackson head football coach Todd Shigley leads his players through a drill in blocking punts on a practice in September 2019. Alex Zietlow

3A, 2A, 1A Players of the Year

Offensive Player of the Year: The 3A, 2A, 1A offensive player of the year is Lewisville’s first Shrine Bowl selection since 2012, the young man who played pretty much every offensive skill position at some point this season: Demetric Hardin.

On the season, the senior rushed for 1,242 yards and 15 touchdowns on 147 carries. He added 953 yards and seven touchdowns on 64-132 passing. And he caught five balls for 187 yards and three touchdowns.

Not to mention, on kickoff returns, Hardin recorded 273 yards and three touchdowns.

Lewisville plays a No. 1 seed in Abbeville on Friday night in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.

Nominations: Quinten Jackson (Catawba Ridge), O.J. White (Andrew Jackson).

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Andrew Jackson’s Eli Mackey graded out at 91 percent on average per game in his senior season. He also added 12 knockdowns and six pancake blocks.

Andrew Jackson will continue its season on Friday night when the Volunteers take on Christ Church.

Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Catawba Ridge’s Will Lowman and Andrew Jackson’s Anthony Izzard each take home 3A, 2A, 1A defensive player of the year awards.

Lowman, in his program’s inaugural season, notched 103 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, four sacks, one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries. Catawba Ridge finished 2-8 on the season.

Izzard added 74 tackles, five tackles for loss, a sack, four interceptions and a forced fumble.

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Asa Johnson of Catawba Ridge was a strength on the Copperheads’ defensive line and earned 3A, 2A, 1A defensive lineman of the year as a sophomore.

Johnson notched 73 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, six sacks, a blocked punt, a touchdown and six quarterback hurries en route to the accolade.

Nominations: Gavin Phillips (Andrew Jackson), Quay Evans (Chester).

Special Teams Player of the Year: Catawba Ridge kicker Ayden McCarter won 3A, 2A, 1A special teams player of the year.

He punted 45 times and averaged 31.44 yards per punt, seven of which landing inside the 20. He also had 30 kickoffs — averaging 42.1 yards per kick and even made eight tackles on kickoffs.

On field goals, McCarter was 12-for-17 on extra points and 3-for-5 on field goals — his long of 34 yards.

Nominations: Gavin Blackmon (Andrew Jackson).

Coaches of the Year

Clover’s Brian Lane was named the 5A, 4A coach of the year. Lane led his team to historic heights this season: Clover earned its first region championship since 2006 and notched its first undefeated season since at least 1951. It also earned a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Lane has revitalized the Blue Eagles since starting his tenure in 2017. In his three years at the program’s helm, Clover has won more games (18) than it did between 2011 and 2016 combined (13).

Andrew Jackson’s Todd Shigley was named 3A, 2A, 1A coach of the year. On the season, the Volunteers went 9-1, 5-1 in the regular season — shutting out its opponents in its first four games and allowing just 16 points through its first six.

Since inheriting the helm of the Andrew Jackson football program in 2017, Shigley has done a lot. In addition to inspiring kids and bolstering football participation numbers unlike any of his recent predecessors, Shigley has won: In 2018, the Volunteers earned their first winning season in 20 years, and this season, they had another one.

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Nation Ford quarterback #14 Gabe Huitt carries the ball against Indian Land. Jeff Sochko Special to The Herald

Players of the Week from Nov. 1

All of the end-of-year accolade-hype considered, the Tri-County Coaches Association also voted on players of the week from the season’s last slate of games.

  • 5A, 4A Offensive Player of the Week. Gabe Huitt of Nation Ford: 20-37 passing for 397 yards and two touchdowns.

  • 5A, 4A Offensive Lineman of the Week. Ernie Greenwood of South Pointe: 96 percent on assignments with three knockdowns and three pancake blocks.

  • 5A, 4A Defensive Player of the Week. Derrick McCrorey of Northwestern: 11 tackles and four tackles for loss.

  • 5A, 4A Defensive Lineman of the Week. D’Rece McMullen of Rock Hill: six solo tackles, one sack, one pass breakup, one forced fumble, four quarterback hurries.

  • 5A, 4A Special Teams Player of the Week. Jerrick Foster of Nation Ford: six kickoff returns for 166 yards — one of which was a 73-yard touchdown.

  • 3A, 2A, 1A Offensive Player of the Week. Demetric Hardin of Lewisville: 32 carries for 199 yards rushing and three touchdowns; 8-13 passing for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

  • 3A, 2A, 1A Offensive Lineman of the Week. Austin Adams of Lewisville: Graded out at 94 percent with three pancake blocks.

  • 3A, 2A, 1A Defensive Player of the Week. Tyleik Elder of Andrew Jackson: 10 solo tackles, one pass breakup.

  • 3A, 2A, 1A Defensive Lineman of the Week. Gavin Phillips of Andrew Jackson: seven tackles, five solo tackles and one tackle for loss.

  • 3A, 2A, 1A Special Teams Player of the Week. Gavin Blackmon of Andrew Jackson: 40 yards on punts; ran in a 2-point conversion; perfect on two extra point holds.

Alex Zietlow covers sports for The Herald, where he has been an editor and reporter since August 2019. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2019 and was a summer sports intern for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., prior to coming to Rock Hill.
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