Student-athletes from five schools earn All-County selections

Published 6:53 pm Saturday, December 16, 2017

The 2017 football season in Dallas County was filled with intense games, big plays and even a couple of playoff appearances. Star players from Dallas County, Keith, Morgan Academy, Selma High and Southside put on great performances that earned them a spot in The Selma Times-Journal’s 2017 All-County football team.

The All-County first team offensive selections are Southside-Selma quarterback Malik Johnson, Selma High quarterback Tyreshon Freeman, Selma High running back Amarian Molette, Dallas County running back Calvin Starks, Selma High wide receiver Gabriel Wade, Southside-Selma wide receiver Keshawn Arrington, Keith offensive lineman Justin Franklin, Southside-Selma offensive lineman Jermaine Savage and Selma High offensive lineman Jeremiah Wright.

Johnson was more than just a quarterback for Southside this season. He proved himself to be a triple-threat utility player that shined the most when the team needed him most. Johnson finished the season with 745 passing yards,475 rushing yards and 325 receiving yards. He threw 14 touchdowns, ran 11 and caught four. He led the Panthers on game winning drives in three overtime games this past season and helped the team make it back to the playoffs in back-to-back years.

Freeman threw for more yards and more touchdowns than anyone else in the county.  He ended the season with 2,134 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Saints. He did have 13 interceptions, but the sheer volume of yards and touchdowns earned him a first-team selection. The Saints finished the year 4-6, which was a three-game improvement on their 1-9 2016 campaign.

Molette was one of the more powerful running backs in Dallas County this season. He often carried the first two defenders he met for several yards before they were able to bring him down. He rushed for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Saints this season.

Starks, on the other hand, was the most elusive back in the county. Rarely did he have a negative gain because the first defender to meet him often missed his tackle. Starks was the best player for the Hornets this season and had 1,854 all-purpose yards. He finished the season with 14 rushing TDs, two receiving touchdowns, a passing touchdown, a punt return touchdown, a kick return touchdown, two field goals and seven extra-points.

Arrington led the county in touchdown receptions with 14. He was one of Johnson’s favorite targets in the end zone. He also racked up 835 receiving yards and 245 rushing yards. Arrington also scored three rushing touchdowns.

Wade was second in yards and touchdown catches behind Arrington. He had 783 yards this past season with 12 touchdown receptions. Wade had several multi-touchdown games for the Saints and was a primary target for Freeman.

Franklin was the best lineman on the team according to Keith head coach Harry Crum. He helped the Bears Wing-T attack rush for more than 22 rushing touchdowns.

Savage’s season was cut short after he had to get corrective surgery on his left eye and miss the final three games of the season. However, in his first year starting at center, Savage was an anchor for the Panthers offensive line according to head coach Daniel Flowers.

Wright was one of the biggest lineman for the Saints and helped pave the way for Mollette and running quarterback Rondarius Sanders.

The first team All-County defense selections are Keith defensive back Jeashan Black, Selma defensive back Jaylen Robinson, Southside defensive back Jalin Colvin, Keith linebackers Levi Thomas and Ledell Jackson, Southside linebacker Xavier Beal, Keith defensive lineman Justin Franklin and Morgan Academy defensive lineman Kenneth Nichols.

Colvin was the most active defensive back this season, and he totaled 42 tackles, eight interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. The Panthers depended on clutch turnovers in many of their close games.

Robinson had more tackles (46), but was one interception shy of leading the county with seven.

Black reeled in six interceptions this past season, including one he returned for a touchdown.

Thomas and Jackson are the only teammates to make the first-team list. Jackson ended the season with 78 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, and interception and two forced fumbles. Thomas made 80 tackles, five sacks, nine tackles for loss and an interception this past season.

Beal patrolled the middle for Southside and concluded the season with 57 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions.

Franklin did the heavy lifting on the defensive side of the ball as well. He amassed more than 60 tackles, including 20 tackles for loss.

Nichols is the lone player for Morgan Academy to make the first-team. He was able to collect 25 tackles on the front lines.

The second team offensive selections are Keith quarterback Jared Edwards, Morgan quarterback Peyton Egbert, Keith running back Jeashan Black, Morgan running back Sam Brackin, Keith wide receiver Trashaud Jackson and Southside-Selma wide receiver Derrick Griffin.

Edwards had a strong season for Keith and took control of the Wing-T offense. He threw for 11 touchdowns in the run heavy offense, and he rushed for nine touchdowns as well. His best game in the air was a 205-yard, three touchdown game against Verbena.

Egbert helped lead Morgan Academy to its first playoff appearance in five years. They also managed to reach the second round this season as well. Egbert threw for 1,398 yards, 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also rushed for 79 yards and three touchdowns.

Brackin ran for 1,023 yards for the Senators during his comeback season after having torn his ACL last year. He found the end zone seven times and was named an AISA all-star.

Black, who was a first-team defensive selection, had a great year as a running back as well. Crum often called Black’s number to “Ring the Bell,” and break out for huge gains. Black rushed for more than 600 yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns, two receiving and two kickoff return touchdowns.

Southside’s No.2 option Derrick Griffin was an explosive receiver in his own right. Griffin had one fewer reception (33) than Arrington (34), and gained 675 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also rushed for 310 yards and four touchdowns.

Jackson was the main receiver for the Bears this season and often turned short passes into big gains. Jackson caught eight touchdowns, ran one in and returned a kick for another this season.

The second team defensive selections are Morgan defensive backs Hardin Utsey and Samm Plummer, Southside defensive back Ernest Hatcher, Morgan linebacker Mason Perkins, Selma linebacker Jaquan Norwood and Morgan defensive lineman Sawyer Hopkins and Allen Todd.

Hatcher came down with seven interceptions and also scored a defensive touchdown for the Panthers this season.

Plummer and Utsey controlled the secondary in tandem this season. Plummer made 38 tackles, caught an interception and had three pass breakups. Utsey had just 31 tackles, but made two interceptions, recovered a fumble and broke up three passes as well.

Norwood was the only player to receive multiple nominations this year, and his 94 tackles for the Saints.

Perkins had a full stat line this season with 26 tackles, three fumble recoveries, two pass breakups, 2 defensive touchdowns and an interception.

Hopkins and Todd fill out the rest of the second-team selections. Hopkins made 19 tackles and blocked a kick, and Todd made 18 tackles.

Congratulations to the All-County selections and their coaches on a great football season.