Another high school football season has come to an end, and this one ended earlier than normal.
No state champions or even region champions this season. Oh well, it can’t happen every year, it just seems like that way.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there wasn’t plenty of talent on the gridiron.
That is evidenced by the annual Christmas unveiling of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph All-Four Seasons Country Football Team.
A first and second team, with 33 players apiece, is included, along with two honorable mention selections from the 19 schools in the Daily Telegraph coverage area.
Richlands, which finished 12-1, losing to Cave Spring in the Region IV finals, has eight players on the first team. Giles and Honaker have four first team honorees. Sixteen of the 19 area schools are represented on the first team.
Leading the way is Richlands senior Devon Johnson, who has already been selected as the Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week for a second straight season.
Johnson, who ran for 1,818 yards and scored 32 touchdowns, was also selected as the Southwest District and Region IV offensive player of the year, and the SWD defensive player of the year. Johnson, who averaged double figures per game in tackles, has verbally commitment to play college football at Marshall.
Players were only eligible to be chosen for one position, so Johnson is a first team All-Four Seasons Country offensive selection. He could easily have been tabbed at linebacker as well.
He is joined at running back by fellow seniors Brad Kessinger of Giles and Jerod Honaker of Honaker, both of whom were selected as the offensive players of the year in their respective districts.
Kessinger led Giles to an 10-2 record, rushing for 1,612 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also threw for 393 yards and two more scores. He was the Three Rivers District offensive player of the year for the TRD champions, and was a Region C first team honoree.
Honaker, who was the Black Diamond District player of the year and a first-team All-Region selection, led the Tigers to a 10-3 record and the third round of the Division 1 playoffs. Honaker ran for 1,901 yards and 20 touchdowns for the BDD champion Tigers.
Guiding the first team from behind center is Richlands senior quarterback Reece Strong. In this first full season as starting quarterback for the Blue Tornado, Strong threw for 1,850 yards and 25 touchdowns, completing 65.4 percent of his attempts. He also ran for six touchdowns.
Also one of the area’s top kickers, Strong made five field goals this season, along with setting school records for longest field goal and most career points.
Targets for Strong include River View’s LeShon Benton, Todd McGlothlin of Richlands and Haysi’s senior Dakota Stanley. The tight end is Jeremiah Dye from Honaker.
Benton snagged 47 passes for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns, and finished with 1,017 total yards on the season for the Raiders. McGlothlin caught 33 of Strong’s passes for 583 yards and seven scores, while Stanley capped off a sensational career with 17 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns in a playoff loss to John I. Burton.
Providing protection and opening holes is Richlands senior center Taylor Wade, and the offensive line of Josh Hess of Richlands, Princeton’s Cody Blankenship, Bluefield’s Ryan Shorter, Dustin Young of Honaker and Graham’s Michael Hayes.
Both Wade and Hess were first team All-Southwest District and Region IV selections, while Young was selected as the co-Black Diamond offensive lineman of the year, and was a first team All-Region D honoree.
Blankenship was an All-Class AAA honorable mention selection, while Shorter shone for the Beavers as an interior lineman on both sides of the ball. He returned a fumble on defense for a touchdown in a win over Shady Spring.
Mount View’s Maurice Brown was chosen as a utility player on offense, while A.J. Johnson of Richlands is the kick return specialist. The kicker is Zach Keaton of Giles, who made four field goals, and his 85 straight extra points over two seasons was just two shy of the state record.
Brown stood out for the struggling Golden Knights, scoring eight touchdowns, six on receptions. Johnson averaged nearly 25 yards per kick return and around 18 yards on punt returns.
The first team defense is paced by a defensive line that includes Corey Quick (Princeton), Hunter Brown (Richlands), David Keen (PikeView), Kevin Ferrell (Giles) and Michael Thompson (Graham).
Quick (Class AAA) and Keen (AA) were all-state honorable mention selections, while Brown was first-team All-Region IV and SWD, recording nearly 100 tackles, along with double figures in tackles for loss.
Ferrell was a TRD first team selection and honorable mention in Region C. Thompson had 50 stops and just under 10 tackles for loss for the G-Men.
Linebackers include Kyle Sheets (Tazewell), Wyatt Robertson (Narrows), Tyler Bailey (Honaker), Trevor Fullen (James Monroe) and Jesse Howersheldt (Summers County).
Both Sheets and Robertson will bring spots for a pair of winless teams. Sheets was first-team All-SWD, and second team Region IV, while Robertson was first-team All-MED and honorable mention for Region C.
Fullen led the Mavericks with just under 100 tackles and he reached double figures in tackles for negative yards. Bailey was the BDD defensive player of the year, while Howersheldt led the improved Bobcats on both sides of the ball.
The secondary includes D.J. Edwards (Bluefield), Josh Compton (Richlands), Chad Franklin (River View) and Dustin Waynick (Hurley). Spencer Sheets of Graham was selected as utility player for the defense.
Compton was a first-team SWD and Region IV honoree, while Waynick was the same in Region D and the BDD, where the 6’7 standout was chosen as the league’s top defensive back.
Franklin and Edwards were both key cogs for their clubs on both sides of the ball.
Punting duties fall to Grundy senior Wayne Mutter, who earned first team BDD and Region D honors.
Leading this squad as coach of the year is Mitch Estep of River View, who led the Raiders to a 9-3 record and the school’s first-ever playoff win. In two seasons, Estep has led River View to a 17-5-1 record.
The second team is pretty strong too, beginning with River View senior quarterback Jacob Muncy, who threw for 1,855 yards and 21 touchdowns this season.
He’s joined in the backfield by Tyler Berglowe (Hurley), Matthew Romanello (James Monroe) and Montel Leggett (Bluefield).
The receiving corps includes Dillon O’Quinn (Grundy), Trey Huckleberry (Mount View) and Thaddeus Foley (Bluefield) River View’s Brandon Thomas is the second team tight end.
River View’s Cody Stevens is the second team center, and he’s joined on the line by Kris Hawkins (Grundy), Randall Johnson (Mount View), Tyler Nelson (Giles), Tyler Blankenship (River View) and Chance Moore (Twin Valley).
Hurley quarterback Austin Cooper is the offensive utility player, while the return specialist is Montcalm’s Marcus Bailey. Bluefield’s Justin Mariotti is the kicker.
Defensively, the choices on the line include Jeremy McGlothlin (Richlands), Hunter Cook (Graham), Jared Skeens (Princeton), Ethan Mitchell (Giles) and Jakob Haun (Bland County).
Bluefield’s Jeff James is joined at linebacker by Lamont Edwards (Graham), Tyler McClanahan (Grundy), Ryan Payne (James Monroe) and Trey Bailey (River View).
The secondary includes Shannon Adams (Twin Valley), Cody Vaught (Giles), Gabe Hurt (Graham) and Isaiah Brown (Summers County). Defensive utility honoree is Brad Fox of Bluefield.
Second team punter is Garrett Lee of Giles.
Two honorable mentions selections from each squad are included in the list that can be found on C-3.
—Contact Brian Woodson
All-Four Seasons Country Football Team
C—Taylor Wade, Richlands, 6’2, 255, Sr.
OL—Cody Blankenship, Princeton, 6’3, 295, Sr.
OL—Michael Hayes, Graham, 5’10, 222, Sr.
OL—Josh Hess, Richlands, 6’7, 325, Sr.
OL—Ryan Shorter, Bluefield, 6’2, 224, Sr.
OL—Dustin Young, Honaker, 6’1, 278, Sr.
WR—LeShon Benton, River View, 6’4, 209, Sr.
WR—Todd McGlothlin, Richlands, 6’4, 235, Jr.
WR—Dakota Stanley, Haysi, 5-10, 180, Sr.
TE—Jeremiah Dye, Honaker, 6’0, 193, Sr.
QB—Reece Strong, Richlands, 5’9, 185, Sr.
RB—Jerod Honaker, Honaker, 5’10, 179, Sr.
RB—Devon Johnson, Richlands, 6’3, 230, Sr.
RB—Brad Kessinger, Giles, 5’8, 155, Sr.
UT—Maurice Brown, Mount View, 6’4,225, Jr.
KR—A.J. Johnson, Richlands, 5’10, 180, Jr.
PK—Zach Keaton, Giles, 5’11, 160, Sr.
DL—Hunter Brown, Richlands, 6’3, 255, Sr.
DL—Kevin Ferrell, Giles, 5’11, 220, Sr.
DL—David Keen, PikeView, 6’1, 220, Sr.
DL—Corey Quick, Princeton, 5’10, 225, Sr.
DL—Michael Thompson, Graham, 5’8, 181, Jr.
LB—Tyler Bailey, Honaker, 5’10, 195, Sr.
LB—Trevor Fullen, James Monroe, 5’11, 185, Sr.
LB—Jesse Howersheldt, Summers County, 5’10, 173, Sr.
LB—Wyatt Robertson, Narrows, 5’8 153, Sr.
LB—Kyle Sheets, Tazewell, 6’0, 205, Sr.
DB—Josh Compton, Richlands, 6’1, 195, Sr.
DB—D.J. Edwards, Bluefield, 6’0, 190, So.
DB—Chad Franklin, River View, 6’0, 160, Sr.
DB—Dustin Waynick, Hurley, 6’7, 195, Sr.
UT—Spencer Sheets, Graham, 5’7, 132, Jr.
P—Wayne Mutter, Grundy, 5’11, 140, Jr.
Playerof Year: Devon Johnson, Richlands
Coach of Year: Mitch Estep, River View
C—Cody Stevens, River View, 6’0, 237, Sr.
OL—Tyler Blankenship, River View 5’9, 244, So.
OL—Kris Hawkins, Grundy, 6’2, 220, Jr.
OL—Randall Johnson, Mount View, 6’4 248, Sr.
OL—Chance Moore, Twin Valley, 6-0, 190, So.
OL—Tyler Nelson, Giles, 5’9, 172, Sr.
WR—Thaddeus Foley, Bluefield, 5’11, 187, Jr.
WR—Trey Huckleberry, Mount View, 6’1 163, Sr.
WR—Dillon O’Quinn, Grundy, 6’4, 175, Sr.
TE—Brandon Thomas, River View, 6’1, 196, Jr.
QB—Jacob Muncy, River View, 6’0, 196, Sr.
RB—Tyler Berglowe, Hurley, 5’10, 170, Sr.
RB—Montel Leggett, Bluefield, 5’7, 183, So.
RB—Matthew Romanello, James Monroe, 6’0, 171, Sr.
UT—Austin Cooper, Hurley, 6’3, 190, Sr.
KR—Marcus Bailey, Montcalm, 5’8, 150, Jr.
PK—Justin Mariotti, Bluefield, 5’8, 173, Jr.
DL—Hunter Cook, Graham, 5’10, 143, Jr.
DL—Jakob Haun, Bland County, 5’11, 185, Sr.
DL—Jeremy McGlothlin, Richlands, 5’10, 245, Sr.
DL—Ethan Mitchell, Giles, 6’0, 181, Jr.
DL—Jared Skeens, Princeton, 5’10, 220, Sr.
LB—Trey Bailey, River View, 6’0, 195, Sr.
LB—Lamont Edwards, Graham , 5’7, 170, Sr.
LB—Jeff James, Bluefield, 6’3, 182, Sr.
LB—Tyler McClanahan, Grundy, 5’11, 180, Sr.
LB—Ryan Payne, James Monroe, 6’1, 166, Sr.
DB—Shannon Adams, Twin Valley, 5-9, 175, So.
DB—Isaiah Brown, Summers County, 5’9, 150, So.
DB—Gabe Hurt, Graham, 5’5, 129, Sr.
DB—Cody Vaught, Giles, 6’0, 137, Sr.
UT—Brad Fox, Bluefield, 5’9, 180, Sr.
P—Garrett Lee, Giles, 6’1, 166, Jr.
Bland County: James Collins, Johnny David; Bluefield: C.J. Manns, Julius Thomas; Giles: Kearsley Dillon, Bubba Workman; Graham: Cody Hatfield, Marshall Hawley; Grundy: Josh McGowan, Ben Rife; Haysi: Heath Mullins, Zack Owens; Honaker: Zac Bailey, Ty Hall; Hurley: Tanner Charles, Greg Stacy; James Monroe: C.J. Adkins, John Mustain; Montcalm: Jason Grose, Matt Wilson; Mount View: Teddy Hazzard, Tashaan Vineyard; Narrows: Cody Cumbee, Cody Ludwig; PikeView: Brandon Convery, D.J. Green; Princeton: Ladarius Gravely, Tahj Sho-Johnson; Richlands: Dustin Duggan, Michael Horton; River View: Brandon Church, Brad Hardy; Summers County: Dustin Smith, T.J. Smith; Tazewell: Deon Davis, Mikey Wright; Twin Valley: Adam Quinley, Henry Viars.
Note: Each player was limited to one position. All 19 area schools are represented in the first and/or second teams. The honorable mention list includes two athletes from each of those same schools.