Do not look now but somehow, we are already five weeks into the high school football season. There have been plenty of ups and downs for teams across Elmore County but a handful of players and moments have stood out since the beginning of August.
Offensive MVP: Tyquan Rawls, QB, Wetumpka
This may seem like the obvious and boring choice but if you have ever watched Rawls on the field, he is anything but boring.
Rawls has accounted for 13 touchdowns in just five games, including at least one rushing touchdown in every contest. While his passing accuracy has showed inconsistencies at times, he has still racked up 768 yards and eight touchdowns through the air.
Of course, his biggest contribution comes on the ground where he leads a potent rushing attack for Wetumpka. Rawls has averaged more than 10 yards per carry and has recorded 702 rushing yards already as he shoots for the school’s single season rushing record held by JD Martin.
Honorable Mention: Kaleb Varner (Edgewood), Kolby Potts (Holtville), Terrance Thomas (Wetumpka)
Defensive MVP: Jeremy Thompson, DB, Stanhope Elmore
There are a number of players on the Stanhope defense who could take this one home but when your coach calls you the smartest player on the field, it’s hard to argue against it. Thompson has made an impact in every game this season and has been a big reason the Mustangs have quickly turned around from the 42-0 loss to Prattville.
Since that defeat, Thompson has recorded an interception in all three contests, including one in a 12-7 win at Benjamin Russell. Stanhope’s secondary finished with three interceptions in that game while allowing the Wildcats to complete only three passes and plenty of the credit goes to Thompson.
Honorable Mention: Hezekiah Nowden (Wetumpka), Mikey Forney (Holtville), Hayden Holton (Elmore County)
Breakout Player of the Year: Mitchell Boyd, RB, Edgewood
After losing an all-state running back, it was safe to think the Wildcats would lose a step in the rushing attack. However, Boyd set himself apart from a crowded backfield early in the season and has produced when needed.
Boyd has rushed for 479 yards while averaging more than 10 yards per carry and recording at least one touchdown in each of the last four games. His biggest game of the year came when he put up 212 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries against Morgan.
On defense, Boyd has recorded 13.5 tackles, including two tackles for a loss, and has a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Boyd did injure his leg in last week’s win over Evangel but he is expected back before the end of the season.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Rines (Stanhope Elmore), Keshawn Benson (Elmore County), Marciano Smith (Tallassee)
Best Underclassmen: Marciano Smith, RB, Tallassee and Drew Pickett, RB, Holtville
It was hard enough to choose one of the three talented freshmen in Tallassee’s backfield but it is almost impossible to choose one of these two young backs over the other. Smith, a sophomore, has stepped up to become the No. 1 for the Tigers while Pickett, just a freshman, has shown off his potential enough to gain some carries in big games for the Bulldogs.
Smith was the clear workhorse in the opener against Montgomery Catholic and he totaled 55 yards and a touchdown on the ground but he suffered a cut which required stitches, forcing him to miss the next two weeks. However, Smith returned stronger in a must-win game, rushing for 131 yards on 23 carries to help the Tigers to their first region win.
Pickett got a big confidence boost early in the season with a 136-yard performance against Central Coosa. He has carried the ball at least eight times in every game while racking up 218 total yards and scoring two touchdowns.
Honorable Mention: Jalyn Daniels (Tallassee), Mikey Forney (Holtville), Lamarius Jackson (Wetumpka)
Coach of the Year: Brian Bradford, Stanhope Elmore
Just two weeks into the season, it appeared the Mustangs were not ready to get over the top and grab their first region title since 2004. And while that may still be a tough task to accomplish, Bradford has gotten his team to respond extremely well as Stanhope is off to its best start since 2012.
The starting quarterback from the offseason has not played a snap but the Mustangs have adjusted. After taking a 42-0 beating and dropping the seventh straight game to one of your biggest rivals, there are plenty of us that would have folded. However, the Mustangs came back while getting better every week so it’s clear the coaching staff in Millbrook is doing its job and doing it well.