By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
The Tomahawk reveals its first ever All Tri-County Football Team made up of players from Johnson, Carter and Unicoi counties. Several area sports writers assisted me in selecting our inaugural squad.
Elizabethtons Ethan Thomas was the unanimous choice for Player of the Year. The senior All-State running back piled up 2068 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns. He averaged more than 11 yards per carry.
Hamptons Coby Jones was tabbed as Offensive Player of the Year edging out Cloudlands Austin Whitehead. The junior signal caller threw for over 1400 yards and ran for nearly 800 more. He set the school record for the most passing yards in a season.
Johnson Countys Robert Bower gets the nod as our Defensive Player of the Year. The senior linebacker racked up 119 tackles, 16 of those for losses.
Johnson Countys Warren Kerley, Happy Valleys Phillip Garland and Cloudlands Austin Whitehead and Coby Birchfield make up the starting backfield.
Kerley set a school record by throwing for 2014 yards with a 56 percent completion rate. Garland ran for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing two games with an injury. Birchfield logged over 1100 yards rushing and was second on the team in receptions.
Whitehead was your do-it-all guy. He was second in NE Tennessee in scoring, rushed for more than 1400 yards and threw for over 800 more. He also led the defense with 83 tackles.
Elizabethtons Chris Cifers anchors the offensive line. He was tabbed as Lineman of the Year in the Mountain East Conference. Joining him up front is Hamptons Zack Guinn and Josh Pierce.
Guinn, a college prospect at (64, 310), recently played in the Tennessee/Kentucky All-Star game. Pierce displayed a ton of heart and smarts, often whipping the opposition despite his 210-pound frame.
Unicoi Countys Erik Arnett and Elizabethtons Cullen Cusak rounds out the offensive line. Hamptons big Lucas Holtsclaw gets the nod at tight end.
The wide receiver corps has three of the best in Northeast Tennessee. Johnson Countys Cody Bailie leads the way.
Bailie, a junior, led the Mountain Lakes Conference with 59 catches for 620 yards. Hes joined there by Hamptons Dylan Ford and Cyclones wideout Markus Olds.
Ford piled up 30 catches for 521 yards. Olds racked up 605 yards receiving averaging 22 yards per catch.
A trio of players make up the defensive line led by Johnson Countys Tristan Hill, Hamptons John Cole and Cloudlands Hez Street.
A quartet of linebackers make up our 3-4 defense.
Austin Hicks (Happy Valley), Ty Robinson (Hampton), Hunter Hodges, Elizabethton and Johnson Countys Peyton Fenner share those honors.
To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.