Calhoun's senior tailback completed his career as a three-year starter with more than 4,000 yards rushing. He led a prolific offense that averaged 41 points per game this season with 1,636 yards and 24 touchdowns in 14 games. Though he was able to watch him every day for three years, coach Hal Lamb still found himself unable to look away when the ball was in No. 5's hands. One of Christian's top moments came in this year's semifinal win over top-ranked Carver, when the 5-foot-9 speedster outrushed Isaiah Crowell, rated by scouting services as one of the top backs in the country. "He's amazing. Every game he did something amazing," Lamb said. "Even the coaching staff looks at each other and says, 'Wow.' He has an unbelievable future ahead of him. He's staying close to home, and I believe he'll do well." Christian has committed to playing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after receiving offers from East Carolina and other schools.
After several star players graduated from Calhoun's 2009 Class AA state-runner-up team, not much was expected of Lamb's 2010 Yellow Jackets. However, after finishing the regular season undefeated and rolling through four playoff games, including a shocking upset top-ranked Carver, Calhoun again reached the championship game. Though the Jackets fell short of the title for a third consecutive season, the memories of how they came together will stick with the 14-year coach forever. "I thought it was a very special team because not a lot of people expected us to end up where we did," Lamb said. "It was the most enjoyable group we've had in a long time, because they did what we asked them to do and they got along very well. Our team chemistry took us a long way. It was a great senior group. The younger players learned how to practice, how to behave, how to play the game. ... They learned a lot from them." With a strong group of juniors returning, could next year find the Jackets back at the Georgia Dome? "I think we'll be just as good if not better on defense if we can find a couple of linemen," Lamb said. "Offensively, we have some work to do, but having [kicker] Adam Griffith back is a big plus. We always have kids step up, and I'm sure next year will be no different."
Junior running back
He ran for 1,354 yards and 11 touchdowns and is being recruited by the likes of Georgia and Auburn.
Junior running back
He rushed for 1,355 yards and 11 touchdowns and added two receiving touchdowns.
He was a key cog in the Yellow Jackets' explosive offense, grading out at least 85 percent in each game.
He led the Tigers in their spread offense with 710 yards and seven touchdowns on 48 receptions.
The first-year starter passed for 2,734 yards and 35 TDs with 64 percent accuracy and four interceptions.
The 6-foot-8, 315-pound future Georgia Bulldog was a force for the Catamounts with 58 pancake blocks.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder graded out at 90 percent for the year and amassed 30 pancake blocks.
He kicked 10 field goals, including three over 50 yards, and is being recruited by Alabama and LSU.
The 6-foot-3, 325-pounder totaled 55 pancake blocks, including 11 in a playoff win over Heard County.
The preseason all-state pick had 72 receptions for 1,139 yards and 11 touchdowns for the state runner-up.
Junior running back
The first-year starter ran for 1,615 yards and 15 touchdowns and added 241 yards and four scores receiving.
The UTC-bound 6-foot-4, 300-pounder graded out at 86 percent for the season with 29 pancake blocks.
TYSHAUN CLEMMONS Gordon Central Soph. Receiver
BLAKE FOSTER SE Whitfield Freshman Receiver
ETHAN HERROD Chattooga Senior Lineman
RANDY HOLT Dade County Senior Lineman
TYLER KING Calhoun Junior Lineman
SHAQEAL MCAFEE Sonoraville Junior Running Back
DAVID PAGE Dade County Junior Running Back
DRE PRATHER Gordon Central Senior Quarterback
NATHAN SCHUSTER Chattooga Junior Quarterback
LUKE SIMS Heritage Junior Lineman
PAUL WALTON Ridgeland Senior Running Back
KRIS WOOTEN Ringgold Junior Lineman
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
1 CALHOUN (14-1)
The Yellow Jackets earned their third consecutive Class AA runnerup trophy after taking mighty Buford to overtime and beating top-ranked Carver in the semis.
2 DADE COUNTY (10-2)
The upstart Wolverines used a deadly ground game to earn a playoff berth and win their first postseason game in 11 years.
3 RIDGELAND (9-2)
The Panthers won their third successive region championship, including the program's first win over Dalton, before falling to Woodward Academy in the playoffs.
Photos by Tim Barber, Allison Carter and Dan Henry. Text by Lindsey Young. Layout by Stacey Wysong.