Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy defensive back Jermaine Hough was named the Class AAAA Defensive Player of the Year by the Georgia Sportswriters Association after helping lead the state’s top-rated defense.
Jermaine Hough, who helped lead Lovejoy’s top-rated defense, was named the Class AAAA Defensive Player of the Year by the Georgia Sportswriters Association (GSWA).
Eleven other players from the Southern Crescent were named to the first team of the annual all-state team chosen by high school sports writers from around the state. There were five second-team selections and two who made the honorable mention.
Grayson junior defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche was named the all-classification player of the year by the GSWA after helping the Rams win their first-ever state title. Nkemdiche is considered the top junior prospect in the state.
Hough, a Jacksonville State commitment, led a defense that recorded eight shutouts and a team that finished runner-up in Class AAAA with a 14-1 record. The 5-9, 170-pound defensive back had 97 tackles, 24 pass breakups and seven interceptions to lead a defense that allowed only five points per game.
Also making the first team from Lovejoy were defensive back Rico McWilliams, a senior who is headed to South Carolina, and defensive lineman Nathaniel Norwood, who had 41 tackles for losses and 13.5 sacks. On the offensive side of the ball, junior Travis Custis was named first team as a running back. The junior was eighth in the state in rushing with 1,839 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Opening those holes for Custis was offensive tackle Jamal Covington, who also was named to the first team. The Wildcats, the two-time Region 4-AAAA champions, had the most first-team players from the area with five.
Eagle’s Landing Christian, which won the Region 5-A title for the second straight year, placed the second-most on the first team with four. Named to the Class A first team were Isaac Rochell (offensive lineman), Justin Thomason (defensive lineman), Keyante Green (linebacker) and Josh Shockley (linebacker).
Green, despite missing five games with an injury, had 104 tackles, including 21 for losses, and six sacks.
Shockley, only a sophomore, led the Chargers with 147 tackles and eight sacks.
Henry County teammates Chris Moody and Dalvin Tomlinson were the only other players from the area to make the first team. Moody, who played quarterback and defensive back for the Warhawks, was named the first-team athlete. In leading the Warhawks to the second round of the Class AAA playoffs, Moody passed for 1,475 yards and rushed for 1,064.
Making the second team in the state’s top classification was defensive back Alvin Hill of Luella. Hill has committed to play at Maryland next season. Darian Small of Dutchtown, who has committed to play at Georgia Southern, was named second team defensive lineman in AAAA.
In Class AAA, Drew offensive lineman Antonio Garcia, who has committed to Troy, was named second team and Henry County defensive back Quran Fite also was named second team.
John Tatum of Eagle’s Landing Christian was named second team running back in Class A. Tatum was the 15th-leading rusher in the state with 1,704 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Named to the honorable mention was Troy Wyche, a linebacker at Riverdale, and Drew defensive back Bradley Street.
Six of the players named to the all-star team will be playing in postseason all-star games this weekend. Moody and Tomlinson will play in this Friday’s annual Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star game in Columbus. Green, Rochell and Custis will play in the second AT&T Georgia Junior Bowl at Grady Stadium.
McWilliams is in the Offense-Defense High School All-American Bowl on Thursday at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.
Georgia Sportswriters Association All-State team
Local Player School Class
Jamal Covington Lovejoy AAAA
Travis Custis Lovejoy AAAA
Keyante Green ELCA A
Jermaine Hough Lovejoy AAAA
Rico McWilliams Lovejoy AAAA
Chris Moody Henry Co. AAA
Nathaniel Norwood Lovejoy AAAA
Isaac Rochell ELCA A
Josh Shockley ELCA A
Justin Thomason ELCA A
Dalvin Tomlinson Henry Co. AAA
Quran Fite Henry Co. AAA
Antonio Garcia Drew AAA
Alvin Hill Luella AAAAA
Darian Small Dutchtown AAAA
John Tatum ELCA A
Bradley Street Drew AAA
Troy Wyche Riverdale AAAA