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Area players named to preseason teams

Last season, Rodney Smith rushed for 1,575 yards and 18 touchdowns as Mundy’s Mill came a game within making it to the playoffs. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone).

Last season, Rodney Smith rushed for 1,575 yards and 18 touchdowns as Mundy’s Mill came a game within making it to the playoffs. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone).

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DeMarquis Gates was a big part of the Lovejoy defense that helped the Wildcats reach the state finals for the last two straight seasons. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone).

Eight players from the Southern Crescent area have been named to the Georgia High School Football Daily’s preseason all-state team in their respective classifications.

Lovejoy and Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy had the most players named to the online publication’s teams. Lovejoy, the Class AAAAAA runner-up from last season, had two players named in DeMarquis Gates and Jeremiah Kirkland. Gates, who is recoverying from offseason knee surgery, was named as a linebacker. He has already committed to play for Ole Miss.

Kirkland, who transferred this spring from Landmark Christian, was chosen as a Class AAAAAA running back. He rushed for 2,007 yards last season on the Class A level. Kirkland attended Lovejoy Middle School, but enrolled in Landmark after for high school. The senior is expected to fill the void left by Travis Custis, who graduated as the Wildcats’ all-time career rushing leader.

ELCA, which won the Class A private school title, had the most players getting preseason recognition with three players. The players are quarterback Dalton Etheridge, defensive lineman Andrew Williams, and linebacker Josh Shockley.

Etheridge is considered one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the state and has received an offer from Georgia Tech. He is also a standout baseball player where he helped lead the Chargers to a championship this past spring. Etheridge is an infielder and pitcher.

Williams is one of the highest recruited players in the area. He has more than 40 college offers.

Shockley has been a starter since his freshman season at ELCA, which had one of the top defenses in its classifications.

Rounding out the preseason recognition by the GHSFD is Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith, and defensive backs Cortez McDowell of Locust Grove and Kendarius Walker of Stockbridge.

Smith, who is coming off knee surgery, rushed for 1,575 yards and 18 touchdowns in only nine games last season. He was injured in the first quarter of the Tigers win overall Ola last season. Smith has three offers, but is also a top baseball prospect as a second baseman.

McDowell is considered one of the top safeties in the country, and has already committed to play for Tennessee. He is also a standout baseball player at Locust Grove. Webster was a member of Class AAAA’s top defense last season. He has several Div. I offers.