By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – Effingham County quarterback Nate Hayes, running back Jayden Evans, wide receiver Keion Wallace and South Effingham’s versatile Justin Martell were among a wide array of local football players earning All-Region 2-AAAAAA honors recently.
The seven region head coaches generously handed out first-team, second-team and honorable mention accolades and 19 Rebels and 19 Mustangs garnered recognition.
Eight ECHS players were named to the first team – Hayes, Evans, Wallace, offensive lineman Desmond Montgomery, defensive lineman Keysean McCarr, inside linebacker Luke Roberts and defensive backs Ashley Thompson and Messiah Bacon.
Hayes, just a junior, led the region in passing yards with 1,658 and threw 14 touchdown passes with just two interceptions. He also ran for 308 yards and four TDs.
Evans, a junior, had a region-best 1,125 rushing yards and seven TDs. He finished the season with five straight 100-yard games.
Wallace had 27 catches for 476 yards and nine TDs. He ranked third in the region in receiving yards and fourth in touchdowns. He also contributed 45 tackles and five tackles for losses as a defensive back.
Montgomery keyed the Rebels’ push upfront as an offensive tackle. McCarr was steady up the middle as a tackle on defense. Roberts led ECHS with 94 tackles (third in the region). Thompson was a sure tackler in the secondary with 33 stops as a strong safety. Bacon, a cornerback, had a region-leading five interceptions.
All-Region first-teamers for South Effingham were Martell, outside linebacker Jah’Tavion Weickerson and punter Dalton Redmond.
Martell, a running back on offense, a safety on defense and a returner on special teams, rarely came off the field. He finished with 621 rushing yards (fourth in the region) and five TDs.
Weickerson was tied for second in the region with 10 tackles for losses to go along with 48 tackles.
Redmond had a 35.4-yard punting average, dropping five of his 13 kicks inside the 20.
Capturing second-team all-region honors for South Effingham were OL Mason Anderson and HB/TE Shane Alvin.
Earning honorable mention were OL Aiden Dean, HB/TE DaMyon McFarlin, RB Kadin Ward,
DL Riley Bilenski, Matthew Moore, Tanner Hughes, Jaiden Washburn, Mikey Ward, ILB Rakeam Williams, William Christmas, OLB Jeremiah Washington, DB Tyrik Guyton, Dominic Martell and K Tyler Quick.
Second-team all-region performers for Effingham County were OL Trey Gordy, Brady Meglan, WR Timmy Brown,
DL Cooper Nease and ILB Bryson Horton.
Receiving honorable mentions were OL Josh Kleckauskas, Nick Daughtry, K Jonah Strickland, DL Kyler Stone, Christian Dillon and ILB CJ Reese.
SEHS remains unbeaten at Turkey Duals
South Effingham won nine dual competitions and had a win over its B squad at the two-day Turkey Duals on the Mustangs campus on Nov. 22-23.
Thirteen high school teams and five middle schools participated. South defeated Screven County (ranked eighth in Class A by Georgia Grappler) 66-12 and No. 10 Yulee 64-9.
The Mustangs (19-0) also topped Richmond Hill (47-21), Effingham County (68-6) and Benedictine (61-12) in matches with local teams.
SEHS coach Christopher Bringer submitted his son Brandon “Moose” Bringer as a “Hammer of the Week” – a weekly honor from Internet site Southeast Wrestling that recognizes top performances. Moose Bringer went 9-0 with seven pins in the tournament to improve to 19-0.
Heavyweight Ashton Anderson (16-0) stayed unbeaten as well with seven wins. Nicholas Sessions won all nine of his matches.
Gannon White and Eli Wood won eight of nine matches. Wood is now 16-1.
Danny Galindez and Ashton Tootle each went 7-1 in the tournament. Galindez improved to 14-4.
ECHS went 7-3 during the two days, slipping past Richmond Hill 37-36 and Ware County 43-42. The Rebels also knocked off Yulee 48-27.
“(The first day) we were sluggish but the second day we wrestled with a lot more confidence,” ECHS coach Nico Guggino said. “We still have things to work on, but they’re trying hard. I’m proud of them for that.”
State finalist Mal Santiago won 9 of 10 matches and raised his record to 19-1.
Ex-Mustang Newbill gets SIAC honor
Former South Effingham star Makenly Newbill, now playing football at Savannah State University, captured second-team All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors in a recent voting of the conference coaches and administrators.
Newbill, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound defensive end, registered 40 tackles, five tackles for losses, four sacks and three pass breakups for a Tiger defense that finished third in the SIAC in scoring defense (20.5 points a game) and 42nd nationally among 163 Division II teams.