By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
While league champion Trenton rightfully dominated the 14A All-District football team, Union City also earned a good share of accolades.
Eight Tornadoes were honored by a vote of league coaches, including Joseph Shanks, who was lauded at the district’s top offensive lineman.
Shanks was named the Messenger’s Obion County Player of the Year at last week’s UCHS banquet.
Linemen Walker Barnes, Brett Gore, Tristan Jerni-gan and Jamie Pirtle, along with slot back Khiry Lewis, fullback Ricky Henry and quarterback Travis Rutland, joined Shanks as all-district selections for Union City, which was runnerup to Trenton and went 7-4.
A four-player South Fulton contingent to make the team was led by J.P. Fowler, who was chosen Punter of the Year.
Lineman Zach Vaughn, linebacker Willie Kneuppel and quarterback JaQuay Garmon all made the list, also.
Trenton running back Tavarian Barnett was picked as the league’s Most Valuable Player, while teammate Ty Fields was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year.
First-year Peabody skipper Joe Gaddis was voted by his peers as Coach of the Year after leading the Tide to an unbeaten run through the district and unseating two-time champion Humboldt.
The foursome of Shanks, Barnes, Gore and Jernigan helped UC rush for an average of 320 yards-per-game in the Tornadoes’ midline/veer attack.
Shanks played a variety of positions and also saw action in the backfield as a multi-dimensional performer, while Barnes was a guard, Gore the center and Jernigan played tackle. All but Jernigan (soph.) are seniors.
Shanks was an all-district choice last season, too.
Pirtle, who made the 14A glitter unit last year as a frosh, played mainly on defense at tackle. He ranked fourth on the UC tackle chart with 34 solo stops, including four behind the line of scrimmage.
The speedy Lewis, was a big-play artist on both sides of the ball and on special teams for the Twisters while repeating as an all-district performer in his senior campaign.
He led the Tornadoes in scoring (16 TDs, I PAT — 98 points) and was the team’s top rusher with 806 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 10.7 yards-per-carry. Lewis also had eight catches for 145 yards and a score, two TDs on kickoff returns and had a team-best three interceptions — including one that he returned 109 yards for a touchdown against Wayne County.
Henry, a sophomore, moved into the starting lineup in the second half of the season when Keylon Hyde went down with multiple injuries and gave hints of a promising future.
He rushed for 646 yards and eight TDs while playing essentially just half of the year and had two 100-yard rushing games, including a 172-yard vs. Humboldt in the regular season finale. Defensively, he was in on 43 tackles at end — third on the team.
Rutland, playing a full season after missing half of his junior year after finger surgery, had 561 yards passing and seven touchdowns and another 523 yards and six scores while piloting UC’s offense. He also made all-district as a junior.
Though Fowler was lauded for his punting for South Fulton, he essentially did everything for the Red Devils, who posted a 3-7 mark and missed out on the postseason.
The versatile senior who was an all-district choice last year, too, led SF in rushing (801 yards), receiving (17-214) and scoring (13 TDs, 9 PATs, 2 2-pt conversions — 91 points) while playing running back and receiver. He was second on the team with 68 tackles and had a club-high three interceptions from his secondary post on defense.
Vaughn was also a repeater after starting both ways in the trenches for the Redmen and being easily the club’s best and most consistent lineman until a knee injury shelved him late in the year.
Kneuppel led South Fulton in tackles for a second straight year, making 94 tackles from his linebacker spot.
Garmon followed up his all-district season of 2011 with another this fall. He threw for 853 yards and eight TDs and ran for another 372 and five scores.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 12.6.12