The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 29, 2013

Four Tanner players lead veteran First-Team offense

By Jonathan Deal
jonathan@athensnews-courier.com

— 2013 was a banner year for Limestone County football. After having just one team in the postseason last year, Limestone County sent four teams to the playoffs last month and had another win a state championship.

Four players from Tanner’s state championship football team highlight the 2013 All-County football team. JonJon Fletcher, Hayden Stephens, Blake Whitt and Seth Smith helped Tanner average a county-best 37 points per game this season on the way to a second consecutive state championship.

West Limestone had three players on the list after one of the best offensive seasons in school history, averaging 29 points and 242 rushing yards per game.

Many of the players on this list played both ways and could have made the First Team on either side of the ball. Below is a detailed list of the top 13 players on offense from seven teams and out of more than 250 high school football players in Limestone County:

JonJon Fletcher, Junior, Tanner: An All-State honorable mention selection, Fletcher recently won his second consecutive state championship as Tanner’s starting quarterback. Fletcher combined for 27 touchdowns on offense and added a kickoff return TD against Lexington.

Hayden Stephens, Senior, Tanner: Stephens finished his senior season with 276 carries for 2,142 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Stephens also had 10 kick returns for a 33.4-yard average and one touchdown. He was selected First Team All-State in Class 2A.

Dillon Miller, Senior, West Limestone: Miller came on strong as the season progressed; scoring long touchdown runs in the final two games against Haleyville and Ardmore. Miller rushed for 1,186 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. The senior led the team with 14 rushing touchdowns and a touchdown pass.

Jordon Gandy, Senior, East Limestone: Gandy led the county in receiving yards and touchdowns in his only year playing varsity football. The senior caught 49 passes for 857 yards and eight touchdowns. Gandy had 490 return yards, which included punt return and kickoff return touchdowns. He also returned an interception for a touchdown and kicked extra points. Gandy was an honorable mention selection to the 5A All-State team.

Blake Whitt, Senior, Tanner: Whitt averaged 25.1 yards per reception this season. His only catch in the state championship game was an important one that kept Tanner’s drive alive in the second half. Whitt caught 30 passes for 752 yards and seven touchdowns.

Hayden Durrett, Senior, Ardmore: Durrett led the team in touchdown catches with 12 and had 28 receptions for 528 yards on the season. The senior became Ardmore’s first All-State selection since 2006 when he was recognized as one of the top tight ends in Class 4A with an honorable mention selection as a receiver. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound tight end graded out at 81 percent on his blocking assignments for the season.

Tre McWilliams, Senior, Athens: McWilliams anchored an Athens offensive line that stood in the trenches against some of the best teams in North Alabama. McWilliams also played defensive tackle, registering 23 tackles, two tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a sack.

Seth Smith, Senior, Tanner: Smith was named to the 2A All-State Team and was one of the best offensive lineman in Class 2A. The senior is a three-year starter at offensive tackle and started both ways this season on the line. As a defensive tackle, Smith recorded 49 tackles. He leaves Tanner with a 41-2 record as a starter over the past three years.

Preston Moss, Senior, West Limestone: Moss is a described by head coach David Arnsparger as the “steadiest performer as a two-way lineman” that could “pull and block athletes in open space and drive opponents off the ball.” A three-year starter, Moss had 48 pancake blocks this season.

Dakota Siniard, Junior, West Limestone: A honorable mention selection to the 4A All-State team, Siniard is one of the biggest lineman in the county at 6-foot-4, 280 pounds. The junior is a three-year starter that had a team-best 101 pancake blocks and paved the way for the team to rush for 2,660 yards.

Kyle Swart, Senior, East Limestone: A four-year starter at center for East Limestone, Swart graded out at 77 percent on blocking assignments this year. The center anchored the Indians’ offensive line and recorded 19 pancake blocks.

Rhett Bailey, Senior, Elkmont: Bailey did a little bit of everything for the Red Devils, lining up at receiver and quarterback. Bailey averaged 13 yards per carry and 22 yards per catch with one touchdown.

Bram McGrady, Athens: The senior kicker made 33 of 36 extra points and eight of 12 field goal attempts this season. Against Center Point in freezing conditions, McGrady came off the bench to hit a 46-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give Athens a 24-22 win and advance to the second round of the playoffs.