Cobb has new top mark for all-state
by John Bednarowski
December 28, 2013 11:42 PM | 2512 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If there was ever a question whether Cobb County produces quality high school football players, it’s emphatically been answered in the affirmative.

Cobb had a county-record 36 players earn all-state honors — first-team, second-team and honorable mention — from the Georgia Sports Writers Association.

Furthermore, two earned player of the year honors — Campbell’s Mike Rogers on Class AAAAAA offense, Kell’s Keith Hampton on Class AAAAA defense — and 17 players from 10 different teams earned first-team selections.

“I think we are earning a lot of respect around the state,” said McEachern coach Kyle Hockman, whose team had a county-best seven players honored. “Good players make good teams, and awards come from good teams.”

Before this season, the previous high for all-state honorees in Cobb County was 34 in 2011, with 30 honored last fall. Before 2010, the Georgia Sports Writers Association all-state team — previously under the Associated Press banner — only had a first team and honorable mention.

For the fifth time in six years, a Cobb County quarterback earned first-team honors from the state’s highest classification. In fact, there were two.

Hillgrove’s Elijah Ironside, who threw for 2,515 yards and 41 touchdowns, was voted the Class AAAAAA quarterback. McEachern’s Ty Clemons — a dual-threat player who threw for 1,243 yards with 14 touchdowns, while also running for 1,196 yards and 16 touchdowns — earned first-team honors as an athlete.

Ironside and Clemons join North Cobb’s Tyler Queen (2012), Marietta’s Anthony Jennings (2011) and Lassiter’s Hutson Mason (2008-09) as the signal-callers honored since 2008.

Rogers, who ran for 1,735 yards and 23 touchdowns in only 10 games, joined Walton’s Tyren Jones (2011) and Michael Boydston (2008), along with McEachern’s Rajaan Bennett (2009), as running backs to earn first-team honors during the same time frame.

Joining Ironside, Clemons and Rogers on the Class AAAAAA first-team offense were McEachern lineman Chuma Edoga and Marietta kicker Ian Shannon.

Class AAAAAA first-team defensive players included McEachern lineman Henry Famurewa, Marietta linebacker Tyrell Tomlin and a pair of defensive backs in Walton’s D.J. Smith and North Cobb’s Latrell Gibbs.

Overall, 21 Class AAAAAA players from around the state were recognized.

“We’ve got more (quality) players in our county than I’ve ever seen,” Campbell coach Harris Rainbow said.

Rainbow got to coach many of these players in last week’s Cobb All-Star Senior Bowl, including some of the six Kell players honored in Class AAAAA.

Headlining the list of Longhorns was Hampton, who became the third Kell player in the four years to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors, joining Brendan Langley (2012) and Brian Randolph (2010).

Hampton was also one of three Kell players to earn first-team nods on defense, joined by lineman Donnell Greene and defensive back Taylor Henkle.

“That’s how we want it,” Longhorns coach Derek Cook said. “In our mind, defense is how we want to be known.”

Wide receiver Julian Burris was Kell’s lone offensive first-team selection.

Pope offensive lineman Max Kemper earned his second first-team selection and will have a chance to become a rare three-time selection in 2014.

Sprayberry’s Rodrigo Blankenship was also named to the first team as the punter.

Mount Paran Christian earned the first playoff win in its history this fall, and now the Eagles also have their first two Class A first-team selections.

Emoni Williams, who had 1,049 yards receiving, 526 yards rushing and a combined 16 touchdowns, earned a spot at wide receiver, while Nick Sbravati, who finished with 132 tackles and six sacks, made his mark at linebacker.

“Those guys are deserving to be on that team,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said. “It’s great for the program. It’s a good opportunity to be in the mix.”
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