Three Huskies, one Panther paved the way in Division V
The East District announced its awards for the 2019 football season, and four local players — three from Harrison Central and one from Buckeye Local — headline the Division V list.
From the Huskies, junior quarterback Kobe Mitchell, senior running back Cale McAfee and senior defensive lineman Mark Smith made first team.
Mitchell, who battled injuries in his second season at the helm of the Huskies offense, still managed to finish with 1,340 yards, 15 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He completed 53.9 percent of his passes. He was also a threat with his feet, rushing for 254 and three touchdowns.
“Kobe came out this year and had a season where he progressively got better as it went,” Harrison Central head coach Anthony Hayes said. “He had some injuries early on and battled through those. He hung tough with us and came up big when we needed him. He helped mature some younger guys along the way. We had a lot of young guys catching the football this year and he helped them a lot.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of the young man. He got better as a player and as a leader. His commitment as a competitor is what it all comes down to.”
McAfee had strong seasons on both sides of the ball for Hayes and the 4-6 Huskies. On offense, he finished with 561 yards and eight touchdowns on 80 carries, averaging just over seven yards per carry. He also hauled in 32 passes for 441 yards and five scores, giving him a combined 1,002 yards of total offense.
On defense, he recorded 80 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
“Cale is an old-fashioned, ironman football player,” Hayes said. “They don’t make them like him any more. He could fit in any decade of football. He is a throwback to my era. He comes to work every day, puts his hard hat on and goes as hard as he can. He battled some significant injuries, too. He didn’t practice a lot at all throughout the week but came to play on Fridays.
“In my experience at Harrison Central, he is one of the best defensive players to ever play here. He was a three-year starter and played a good bit as a freshman. As a coach, you can only hope to coach players like that.”
Smith, moved to the defensive line this season for the first time, made the transition successfully by recording 70 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumbles recoveries.
“I’m not sure there is a defensive lineman in the Valley that is better than Mark Smith,” Hayes said. “He was a backup quarterback and a defensive back when he started playing football. We moved him to offensive tackle and linebacker last year and to defensive line and guard this year. He set the school record for sacks in a season and for tackles for loss in a season. It speaks to his versatility and commitment. He never ceased to amaze me. The changes he was able to make and constantly improve with each change … is amazing.”
“He is a wonderful young man with a bright future. I told our kids I have never seen anyone come to practice every day and practice as hard as Mark Smith on every single rep. I’ve never seen him take him take a single rep off.”
Buckeye Local’s mark on the district list was made by sophomore defensive end Hunter Darrah, who coach Roger Herbert thinks has an even higher ceiling. He recorded 52 tackles, eight for loss, six sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered one. He was also a key part of the offensive line for the 2-8 Panthers.
“The sky is certainly the limit,” Buckeye Local head coach Roger Herbert said. “He has good size, he has the work ethic, he put the time in the weight room. If he continues to do what he has been doing, he certainly can play at the next level. He did not miss an offensive or defensive snap all year, which is remarkable for a defensive end that people are double-teaming all year. As we go through this further on, there is no reason he can’t be an all-state player.
“He goes to a lot of camps, during the summer he went to Marshall and won a lineman challenge with a lot of big schools there. If he keeps putting the time in, he’s going to be in good shape. He’s a starter for the basketball team and a good corner stone for us to build off of. The game is won up front, and I think you put your best athletes on the line. In the Edison game, he had the best defensive stat line I’ve ever coached. He has proven it two years in a row and we expect him to continue to grow.”
Edison got on the district list with senior kicker Carter Montgomery, who made 10 of 14 extra points and 3 of 4 field goals for a total of 19 points. His longest field goal was 31 yards, and senior offensive lineman Cody Waggoner, who recorded 23 knockdowns.
The Huskies had sophomore receiver Trevor Carman make second team, hauling in 25 catches for 401 yards and five scores, along with Tucker Coultrap (87 tackles, five for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles).
Getting special mention honors for Edison were Logan Hanchin, Levi Waggoner and Noah Woods.
Buckeye Local’s Bub Palmer, Hayden Taylor and Charles Smith were special mentions.
(Grimm can be reached at email@example.com)