UC, SF pick up dozen All-14A football spots

UC, SF pick up dozen All-14A football spots
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
For a team that finished neither first nor second, Union City certainly had its share of fair representation on the 14A All-District football team.
Fullback Keylon Hyde was chosen the league’s Offensive Player of the Year and tackle Michael Dysart was picked as the Best Offensive Lineman by a vote of coaches that also honored six other Tornadoes with all-district accolades.
League champion Humboldt had a monopoly on the remaining individual honors with Ryeon Wedley (Most Valuable Player), Daniel Blankenship (Defensive Player of the Year), Tevin Bryson (Best Defensive Lineman) and head coach Dan Bland rewarded for their efforts in the Vikings’ unbeaten march through league play for the second straight year.
H’boldt also placed eight players on the all-district squad, with league runnerup Lake County earning seven selections.
Union City put Khiry Lewis, Joseph Shanks, Tymaine Strickland, Jamie Pirtle, Travis Rutland Keontre Murrell on the team from a squad that finished the regular season 4-6 and in third place in the district standings before advancing to the quarterfinals of the Class 1A postseason and ending up with a 6-7 record.
South Fulton placed four players on the 14A glitter unit including J.P Fowler, Cody Tatum, JaQuay Garmon and Zack Vaughn.
Hyde ran for 1,801 yards and 17 touchdowns — many of those behind Dysart in the Twisters’ veer-option offense — to help UC to a surprising third-round playoff run.
It marked the second straight year the junior fullback has easily eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark and his 134 total points this year were more than one-third (345) of his team’s output as a whole. He also was second on the Tornado team with 64 solo tackles at linebacker.
Dysart, who started every game at tackle in what was often a makeshift UC line, anchored a unit that rushed for more than 260 yards-per-game on average. Additionally, he was third on the club in tackles as a down lineman with 45 individual stops and a team-high six quarterback sacks.
Lewis, a South Fulton transfer, emerged as a big-play artist for the Twisters — as a runner, receiver and kick returner.
The junior speedster ran for 891 yards and 13 TDs while averaging over 10 yards-per-carry, and was Union City’s leading receiver with 14 catches — four of which went for scores. He also returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns.
Shanks earned the title of Mr. Versatility for the Tornadoes, playing three positions along the offensive line and also quarterback the first five games while Rutland rehabilitated an injured finger that required surgery. Though most effective and comfortable in the trenches, the junior rushed for 137 yards while at the controls of UC’s offense and even threw three touchdowns passes during his time under center.
Shanks was also fourth on the team in tackles (46) while playing at both end and linebacker.
Strickland is viewed as a rising star after topping the seasonal hit list with 76 stops during his sophomore season. He was also a bit player offensively with limited statistics as a runner and pass-catcher, but was considered the best blocker among Union City’s slot backs.
Rutland returned in Week 6 from his aforementioned finger surgery and the Tornadoes’ offense improved vastly the rest of the season with the junior at the controls.
He ended up throwing for 424 yards and four TDs, and finishing third on the team behind Hyde and Lewis in the rushing department with 413 yards and six scores.
Murrell, another junior, had a team-high four interceptions from his cornerback spot, the biggest of which he returned for a game-winning touchdown in UC’s 42-33 come-from-behind upset win over Lake County in Round 2 of the playoffs. He also had a team-best three fumble recoveries and 27 solo tackles.
Pirtle, one of a number of promising young players forced into action due to injury, tied for fourth on the Twister tackle chart with 36 solos as a defensive tackle. Six of those hits were behind the line of scrimmage for the freshman, and also recovered two fumbles and had an interception.
Fowler was South Fulton’s best all-around player, totaling 894 yards rushing and 14 TDs, to go along with 520 receiving yards and another two scores — both team-highs. The junior running back/safety also led the Red Devils with 66 tackles — eight for lost yards — and had two fumble recoveries and an interception.
The bruising Tatum rushed for 633 yards and 14 touchdowns at fullback for the Redmen, and was second, too, behind Fowler in total points with 93.
Garmon, fully recovered from a major knee injury suffered late in 2010, passed for 1,237 yards and seven TDs in his junior campaign.
Garmon directed an offense that put up 3,304 total yards and scored 286 points, averaging 26 points and 291.3 yards a game.
Vaughn was a huge surprise along the defensive front where he had 38 solo hits and a fumble recovery as a sophomore.
The Devil defense surrendered 20.5 points and 269.1 yards per game, holding three opponents to two TDs or less.
 The Red Devils went 4-7, were fifth in the league and lost in the first round of the postseason.
A banquet honoring the all-district team will be held in January.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 12.1.11

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