To be the best, you have to play the best.
And there’s no doubt that the 27 Scioto Countians who were named honorees — and many more — played and performed against the best that the Division V and Division IV realms have to offer.
Led by the SOC Offensive Player of the Year Tanner Holden, the SOC Defensive Player of the Year in Xander Carmichael, and the Lineman of the Year in CJ Hall, the 2017 Division V State Champions — Wheelersburg — put 13 players on the list on its own, while fellow rival West added eight additional players to the list. Minford (five players) and Valley (three) rounded out the list.
Of those 27 players, Holden, who finished the season as the Co-Offensive Player of the Year in Division V, finished with 1,535 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns on 117 catches in 2017, which are all school records. Holden was the only non-senior in the entire state to be nominated for Mr. Football accolades. He added four interceptions on the defensive end of the football in limited snaps, which tied a team-high in that category.
Carmichael, who fittingly capped off his senior season with the game-winning Tim Tebow-esque jump pass to Holden on a fourth-and-one play in the state title game, obtained 104 tackles and three interceptions in 2017. The linebacker also added 10 total touchdowns from an offensive standpoint, including seven alone on the ground, during the Pirates’ magical run.
In addition to the efforts of Holden and Carmichael, Nic Parsley (101 tackles, six sacks), Bryson Keeney (46 tackles, two interceptions), Cole Lowery (61 catches, 879 yards, three touchdowns, 39 tackles, an interception), Trent Salyers (211-of-326 passing, 3,483 yards, 35 touchdowns, 113 carries, 470 yards, 11 touchdowns), and linemen CJ Hall and Alex George, who blocked for a unit that collected 6,022 yards of total offense and obtained 63 and 55 tackles on the defensive side of the football, rounded out the list.
All six of those guys — along with Holden and Carmichael — came up big during the playoff run as Parsley and Keeney each made crucial special teams tackles that saved Middletown Madison from obtaining a pair of first downs after two bobbled punt attempts, with the latter collecting a team-high five receptions for 84 yards in the state championship game. Lowery made the game-clinching interception against Middletown Madison and recovered the crucial fumble that officially decided the state championship affair, while Hall and George were mainstays on both sides of the line. Lastly, Salyers gutted out a broken fibula in the second half and overtime en route to throwing for 179 yards, while running for a critical touchdown to end the first half and throwing for another score with less than 20 seconds to play.
As for West, the Senators put five of their own players on the first team, with Garrett Hurd, who ran for 1,345 yards and 11 touchdowns on 239 carries, heading the group. Josh Berry, an electric playmaker who tallied 666 all-purpose yards, five touchdowns, 63 tackles, and four sacks in eight games, Cody Staggs, who obtained team-highs of five interceptions, 423 receiving yards, and four touchdowns, Jakeb Guilkey, who collected 107 tackles and 15 tackles for a loss, and Brandon Weaver, who added 90 tackles, including 18 behind the line of scrimmage, led the Senators’ brigade as West posted a 10-2 overall record in 2017.
In addition to ‘Burg and West, Minford and Valley each put multiple hands on the first team, with Luke Lindamood (96 tackles, four tackles for loss), Breydan Tilley (30 catches, 496 yards, four touchdowns, 16.5 yard-per-catch average, and one kick and punt return touchdown apiece), and Darius Jordan (35 catches, 431 yards, seven touchdowns, 12.3 yard-per-catch average) earning First-Team accolades for the Falcons and Gabe Streeter (77 tackles, six interceptions, nine pass breakups, two interception returns for scores), along with JT Ward (11 tackles per game) leading the charge for Valley.
On the second unit, Wheelersburg and West each put three players apiece on the second team, with Makya Matthews, who obtained 308 yards and four touchdowns receiving and 57 tackles and four interceptions for the year, leading the charge. Avery Donini (71 tackles) and Jeremy Cooper (53 tackles) rounded out the Pirates’ nominees. Matthews caught the game-tying 12-yard touchdown pass that sent Wheelersburg’s Division V State Championship matchup with Pemberville Eastwood into overtime, while Donini made the key stick that forced the game-deciding fumble to end the overtime session.
West, meanwhile, put Dylan Bradford (87-of-153 passing, 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 344 rushing yards, eight touchdowns), standout kicker Drew Cassidy (40-of-42 PATs, 8-of-11 field goals with a long of 44, 20 touchbacks, 69 tackles defensively) and Hunter Reed (47 tackles, eight for a loss, and three sacks) on the second unit. Minford’s Kelton Kelley (123-of-222 passing, 1,539 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Casey Gaines (67 tackles and 241 rushing yards in just eight games), along with Valley’s Andrew Shope, rounded out the list of Scioto County honorees.
Waverly, who finished third in the conference standings and finished 7-4 overall in 2017, put Clayton Howell, Cobe Marquez, Easton Wolf, and Drew Kritzwiser on the first team, while Kayne Jordan and Macayne Bock earned second team accolades to complete the list.
All-SOC Division II Football Team
First Team: Wheelersburg: Tanner Holden, Xander Carmichael, CJ Hall, Alex George, Nic Parsley, Bryson Keeney, Cole Lowery, Trent Salyers. West: Josh Berry, Garrett Hurd, Cody Staggs, Jakeb Guilkey, Brandon Weaver. Waverly: Clayton Howell, Cobe Marquez, Easton Wolf, Drew Kritzwiser. Minford: Breydan Tilley, Luke Lindamood, Darius Jordan. Valley: Gabe Streeter, JT Ward.
Second Team: Wheelersburg: Jeremy Cooper, Avery Donini, Makya Matthews. West: Dylan Bradford, Hunter Reed, Drew Cassidy. Waverly: Kayne Jordan, Macayne Bock. Minford: Kelton Kelley, Casey Gaines. Valley: Andrew Shope.
Offensive Player of the Year: Tanner Holden-Wheelersburg
Defensive Player of the Year: Xander Carmichael-Wheelersburg
Lineman of the Year: CJ Hall-Wheelersburg
Coach of the Year: Rob Woodward-Wheelersburg
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT