From Emanuel County to Screven County, high school football has finally ended in our area of Southeast Georgia,
While there was some considerable success for schools like Screven and ECI, football within Bulloch County fell short of the usual mark by most standards. Bulloch Academy came away with the best record at 5-4-1, with Southeast Bulloch following behind at 5-5, Portal at 1-8 and Statesboro at 0-10.
That’s not even mentioning how inclement weather not once but twice screwed with everyone’s schedule, and we saw teams playing games on every day of the week but Sunday. Portal, Southeast Bulloch and Bulloch Academy all had their schedules shortened by one game because of storms.
Of the two teams that did make it to the playoffs, neither advanced out of the first round. Saying all of this isn’t to disparage the players, coaches, boosters and parents involved with football — it’s merely the facts of the 2016 season.
But just because the teams under performed by most standards, doesn’t mean the individual accomplishments of certain players can’t be recognized. Plenty of young men had good seasons worthy of recognition in Bulloch County.
But before I go further, here’s a disclaimer: this team is for Bulloch County only. It’s not to shade the accomplishments of players in Screven County, Emanuel County, Jenkins County, Johnson County or any of the other surrounding areas. I have something else waiting for you guys later on.
For now, this is an All-Bulloch County team for the four schools in Bulloch County. The players found here have been chosen for their individual statistics, value to their teams and whether or not they made their respective all-region squads.
While the coaches had some input — specifically with offensive lineman — I made most of these selections myself with some help from the rest of the Herald Staff. So without further due, let’s introduce everyone to the 2016 All-Bulloch County football team.
• Quarterback - Tupac Lanier: This was by far the toughest choice for any position in the county. Yes, it’s true Lanier was not the originally the starter for Statesboro and didn’t even finish the season as the starter — but while at quarterback no one did more for his team than Lanier did.
• Fullback - Chase Walker: Unlike quarterback, this choice was rather easy. Walker led all players in rushing and total touchdowns in Bulloch County while being the most consistently productive player this year.
• Running back - Jake Mock: For the period he was healthy, there wasn’t a more explosive player in Bullock County than Mock. Even while missing the last couple of games Mock was still second in the county in rushing and led all ball carriers in yards per carry.
• Running back - Craig Ware: Portal didn’t have much in the way of offense this season, but what they did get came primarily in the form of Ware’s ability to run the ball in tight spaces. He was third in the county behind Mock and Walker in yards per carry.
• Wide Receiver - Wright Rockett: There simply wasn’t a better receiver in the county statistically than Rockett this season. The junior led all county receivers in receptions and total yards, not to mention nearly half of his receptions went for a first downs.
• Wide Receiver - Jontrell Wells: SEB’s swiss army knife did a little bit of everything for the Yellow Jackets this season. He added touchdowns rushing and receiving this season and added a “lightning” dimension to SEB’s offense behind Walker’s “Thunder” style of running.
• Offensive Line - Elijah Crispell: An all region 3-3A selection, Crispell was one of the stalwarts on an offensive line that paved the way for 6.1 team yards per carry.
• Offensive Line - Ethan Daughtry: Daughtry proved to be Poral’s best offensive lineman in his senior season, helping grate the way for Ware’s All-County performance.
• Offensive Line - Chandler Dick: It showed most when he was hurt, but Dick was at his best for Statesboro in pass protection, where he didn’t allow a single sack.
• Offensive Line - Seth Conner: Connor was consistently the best man up front for a BA team that rushed for 5.4 yards a carry this season.
• Offensive Line - Aaron Mickell: Another All-Region 3-3A selection, Mickell and Crispell are going to be major losses next season on the best offensive line in the county.
• Defensive Line - Jake Nelson: Led all defensive lineman in total tackles and tackles for loss. Was tied for the county lead in TFL’s with his teammate, Garrett Williams.
• Defensive Line - GC Kimbrell: Kimbrell played very well on both sides of the line, but defense is where he made the bigger impact for BA.
• Defensive Line - Antonio Roberts: Second among all defensive linemen in total tackles, Roberts was incredibly productive from the nose guard position.
• Defensive Line - Connor McBride: Played all over the place on the defensive line for Statesboro, he was second among all defensive linemen in sacks this season.
• Linebacker - Garrett Williams: Led all county players in sacks and was tied for first in tackles for loss, Williams was undoubtedly wrecked more havoc than anyone else in Bulloch County.
• Linebacker - Chris Hill: Undoubtedly the county’s best defensive player while he was healthy for six games, that alone was enough to get him on this list.
• Linebacker - Tyce Lovett: Led all county players in tackles and perhaps no single player meant more to a defense than Lovett did for BA.
• Linebacker - Billy Drummer: Led Portal in tackles and was the leader of a surprisingly stingy Portal defense.
• Defensive back - Chevy McNeal: Led all county players in interceptions with six and proved to be a tough matchup for any receiver in class A.
• Defensive back - Julian Harrison: Tied for second in the country in interceptions, Harrison excelled in man-to-man coverage.
• Defensive back - Jonathan Volskay: Led all county defensive backs in tackles and perhaps his the best game of the year when it mattered most — in the playoffs.
• Kicker/Punter: Caleb Dowden: As crazy as it seems, no one in county was better at his position than Dowden was. Setting the Southeast Georgia High School record for longest field goal (58 yards), putting over half of his kickoffs in the endzone for touchbacks and averaging 40 yards a punt were just some of Dowden’s feats this season.