PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Polk County's senior free safety was as sure a tackler as there was in the area and was the heart and soul of the team on both sides of the ball. He had 88 tackles including three for lost yardage, two interceptions, a fumble caused and one fumble recovery. Against eventual state champion South Pittsburg, he returned an interception for a touchdown and caused a fumble to set up another score. As the only four-year starter in Derrick Davis' 11 years as head coach at Polk County, Allen was the winningest quarterback in program history and also helped Polk earn two straight District 5-AA championships. Coaches moved him to outside linebacker in the playoffs because of his versatility and ability to make big plays. "We were able to do some things on defense, scheme-wise, because ofJared's athletic ability and intelligence," Davis said. "He's one of the best high school players I've ever seen in 16 years of coaching. The best thing about it is he's also a great kid that I've enjoyed being around." important the two-year starter would be in the playoffs. In limited defensive play, Hale also had six interceptions as a defensive back, including one in the title game.
COACH OF THE YEAR
The Pirates claimed the Class 1A state championship for a third time in Grider's 14 years as head coach at his alma mater. But this one seemed unlikely after the team was soundly beaten at Polk County in week nine. "I think after the way we lost at Polk there were a lot of doubters," Grider said. "The thing that really bothered the kids - and to be honest, me - was that a lot of those doubters were people in our own community. I really think that inspired this group to go out and prove themselves. I believe that loss at Polk was a turning point for us." Led by all-state running back Raquis Hale and a group of nine seniors who won 50 games in their career, South Pittsburg rebounded from the loss to beat four of its next five opponents by the state's 35-point mercy rule, including a 41-6 win in the state -title game.
He averaged 39.5 yards per punt and limited opponents' returns with good hang time on his kicks.
The state final's defensive MVP had 108 solo tackles for a unit that allowed no or one touchdown seven times.
He had 102 tackles, 31.5 for loss and 10.5 sacks to rank among the area's leaders in each of those categories.
Junior defensive back
He led the Pirates' secondary with seven interceptions and was also the team's leading receiver with 876 yards.
He had 80 solo tackles to lead the Yellow Jackets and also blocked two punts and two extra-point kicks.
Senior defensive back
He had four interceptions and was the Blue Raiders' leading receiver with 1,063 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Junior defensive back
He had four interceptions, 15 passes defended and 46 tackles for a second-round playoff team.
He had 83 tackles, 26 for loss and 8.5 sacks to lead one of the area's stingiest units.
Senior defensive back
His eight interceptions led the area, and he also had 72 tackles and nine pass breakups.
He had 58.5 tackles, including 48 solos, 14 for loss and 3.5 sacks, as one of the state's top junior prospects.
The 6-foot-2, 260-pounder was the anchor of the Cherokees defense with 77 tackles and three sacks.
He had 87 solo tackles, including eight for lost yardage, to lead the Warriors.
DENZEL BYNUM North Jackson Senior Defensive back
JERRY FAIN Sequatchie County Senior Linebacker
RANDY GRANT Sequatchie County Senior Linebacker
KARRELL HUTCHINS South Pittsburg Junior Linebacker
JON JON JENKINS Rhea County Senior Lineman
TYLER LEE Polk County Senior Defensive back
CODY MONTEITH Copper Basin Senior Linebacker
BEN RICHEY Bledsoe County Senior Lineman
DERRICK SANDERS Grundy County Senior Linebacker
BRANDON SMITH Bledsoe County Senior Defensive back
LOGAN SWAFFORD Polk County Senior Defensive back
BARRETT THOMPSON Cleveland Senior Lineman
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
1 SOUTH PITTSBURG (12-2)
The Pirates earned their second state championship in four years with a senior class that finished with 50 wins.
2 NORTH JACKSON (13-1)
The Chiefs won the Region 7-4A title and advanced to the Alabama state semifinals before falling at Deshler.
3 POLK COUNTY (10-2)
The Wildcats won their second straight District 5-AA title and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Photos by Jake Daniels. Text by Stephen Hargis. Layout by Stacey Wysong.