The payoff for an undefeated high school football season is that the rest of the state takes notice of the talent that helped run the table. That's how Red Bank in Class 4A and Polk County in 3A ended up with multiple players on their respective Tennessee Sports Writers Association all-state teams.
Red Bank's five all-state players -- offensive lineman Mikie Burnett, defensive lineman Kevin Fortson, defensive back Keith Mayes, linebacker Anthony Rogers and running back Keon Williams -- are joined by Hixson defensive back Zach McCarter and Central linebacker Jonathan Robinson on the 4A team.
"To have a haul like that, it's a tribute to the hard work by those kids," Red Bank coach Tim Daniels said. "I'd like to be able to claim that many every year. That's incredible.
"Every one of them are seniors, and as their coach I know the battles some of those kids have fought through for four years to get recognized. Anthony and Mikie really fought through injuries earlier in their career to get this recognition. I'm really proud of all of them."
Polk County led all area 3A programs with three all-state selections: defensive lineman Zack Akins, linebacker Michael Hargrove and offensive lineman Taylor Williams. Also on the 3A squad are Tyner athlete Travis Jones, Grundy County offensive lineman Dillon Graham and Sequatchie County kicker Lupe Martinez.
Burnett had 32 pancake blocks and 25 knockdowns to lead the way for Williams, a Middle Tennessee State commitment who rushed for 1,506 yards, averaging 8.4 yards per carry, and 32 touchdowns. Fortson's 87 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and nine sacks helped a stingy Lions defense. Rogers led the team with 140 total tackles, and Mayes, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga commitment, had 60 tackles, two for loss and two pass interceptions.
McCarter was the best player on both sides of the ball for Hixson and earned all-state status as a defensive back, where he had 68 tackles, three for loss, three fumbles caused and six interceptions. He also ran for 604 yards, threw for 882 with a combined 15 TDs and punted for a 34-yard average.
Despite a broken hand that caused him to miss two games, Robinson led Central with 54 solo tackles, 79 total, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Polk County went unbeaten in the regular season for the first time in program history, and its defense played a big role in that accomplishment. Akins had 29 tackles for loss, 79 total stops, seven sacks, two caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Hargrove, a junior, had 36 solo tackles, 60 assists, 25 tackles for loss, two caused fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Williams was the best blocker on a Wildcats offense that rushed for 3,281 yards.
"We've never had more than two before, so that's big for our whole program," Polk coach Derrick Davis said. "I guess it means our name is out there from winning a few games. It's an award for the whole program, and I'm as excited as they are to see them rewarded for the hard work they've put in."
Jones, a 6-foot, 190-pound junior, ran for 822 yards and 11 TDs, had 273 receiving yards and two TDs and threw for 582 yards and 11 TDs. Defensively he had 79 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Graham, a 6-3, 285-pound junior, graded out as Grundy's best run-blocker and had 41 solo tackles and seven for loss.
Martinez made seven of nine field-goal attempts and became the first player in state history to make three 40-plus-yard field goals (44, 47, 52) in one game.
Class 3A All-State
Coach of the Year: Gary Rankin (Alcoa)
QB -- Luke Roman (CPA)
QB -- Quinn Epperly (CAK)
RB -- Jaron Toney (Alcoa)
RB -- Jabronski Gilbert (Milan)
RB -- Cody Forbes (Elizabethton)
WR -- Tyrel Asberry (York)
ATH -- Travis Jones (Tyner)
ATH -- Will Redmond (Manassas)
FB -- Taharin Tyson (Alcoa)
OL -- Justin Marsh (Alcoa)
OL -- O.C. Brown (Manassas)
OL -- Chad Purdy (Loudon)
OL -- Taylor Williams (Polk County)
OL -- Dillon Graham (Grundy County)
K -- Lupe Martinez (Sequatchie County)
DL -- Tyler Robinson (Alcoa)
DL -- Wayne Jaworski (Fairview)
DL -- Darrell Warren (Alcoa)
DL -- Zack Akins (Polk County)
DL -- Ricky Morton (Oakhaven)
LB -- Avery Williamson (Milan)
LB -- Devante Hawkins (Austin-East)
LB -- Dee Herbert (Alcoa)
LB -- Michael Hargrove (Polk County)
LB -- Matt Brown (York)
DB -- Michael Gaskin (Camden)
DB -- Colin Meier (Gatlinburg-Pittman)
DB -- Trent Fisher (CPA)
DB -- Andrew Woodin (Cannon County)
P -- Lee Cooper (Cannon County)
Coach of the Year: David O'Connor (Giles County)
QB -- Bo Wallace (Giles County)
QB -- Hunter Poteete (DeKalb County)
RB -- Bryson Crowder (Liberty)
RB -- Keon Williams (Red Bank)
RB -- William Officer (David Lipscomb)
WR -- Zach Bailey (Giles County)
WR -- Abram Edwards (DeKalb County)
ATH -- Spencer Brooks (Liberty)
ATH -- Patrick Haskins (Obion County)
OL -- James Stone (Maplewood)
OL -- Matthew Spraggins (Crockett County)
OL -- Mikie Burnett (Red Bank)
OL -- Chris Hartman (Creekwood)
OL---Daniel Miller (Livingston Academy)
K -- Ben Ogle (Greeneville)
DL -- Kevin Fortson (Red Bank)
DL -- Cortez Brown (Trezevant)
DL -- Torrell Boykins (Giles County)
DL -- Brendon Frankell (Lexington)
LB -- Nick Craney (Greeneville)
LB -- Anthony Rogers (Red Bank)
LB -- Jonathan Robinson (Chatt. Central)
LB -- Dwayne Troutman (Carter)
DB -- Jake Huitt (Livingston Academy)
DB -- Reggie Hobson (Liberty)
DB -- James Harmon (Fairley)
DB -- Keith Mayes (Red Bank)
DB -- Zach McCarter (Hixson)
ATH -- Wes Quarles (Greeneville)
P -- Seth Hinson (Dyersburg)