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Tallapoosa Publishers’ All-Area Team|Dadeville QB Eric Vickers leads a group of star-studded athletes on Tallapoosa Publishers 2008 All-Area football team

Published 12:00am Thursday, November 27, 2008

The story of the season was no doubt the turnaround of the Dadeville Tigers. Leading the state of Alabama’s first team to go from winless to undefeated was senior quarterback Eric Vickers, the 2008 Player of the Year.

In helping Dadeville to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs, Vickers accounted for 34 touchdowns. His guidance helped the Tigers average 36.9 points in their 10 regular season wins.

Richard White, the long-time Tiger head coach who has led Dadeville to the playoffs in seven of his nine years at the helm, said Vickers is one of the top players he’s ever coached.

Vickers completed 137 of his 242 passes for 1,947 yards on the season. He tossed 26 touchdown passes, while throwing just 11 interceptions. He was also a force with his legs, gaining 699 yards rushing on 159 carries.

Those numbers led the team in both categories, and his eight rushing touchdowns were tied for the most with Quen Pearson.

He was a clutch player, as evidenced by his performances against No. 2 Trinity and Montgomery Academy. In those two games, he threw for a combined 517 yards and nine touchdown passes.

He was named WSFA player of the week following the M.A. game, a 48-21 road win for Dadeville.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

QB – Eric Vickers, senior, Dadeville

Vickers helped lead the Tigers past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000. He led the most prolific offense in school history to an 11-1 record.

RB – Willie McKenzie, junior, Reeltown

The Rebel tailback was the leading back out of Reeltown’s stable of runners. He led all area rushers with 14 touchdowns during his team’s first 12 games, 11 of which were Rebel wins. He gained 784 yards, also tops in the area, on 119 carries.

RB – Brandon Thomas, sophomore, Horseshoe Bend

Thomas not only led the Generals in rushing, but was a dual-threat out of the backfield. He rushed for 555 yards on 94 attempts and scored five touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 407 yards and five touchdowns. He is the only skill player who’s a sophomore on the all-area offense.

WR – Tre McKinney, senior, Dadeville

McKinney was the main weapon for Eric Vickers. His 14 receiving touchdowns were more than any other receiver. He had 56 receptions for 886 yards (15.1 yards per catch). His signature performance came in the Trinity game, when he caught 10 passes for 202 yards and four TDs.

WR – Artavius McNeal, senior, Central Coosa

The Cougars threw early and often this season, and the man making most of those catches was Artavius McNeal. He hauled in 63 catches for 931 yards, making him the area leader in both categories. Nine of those catches were touchdowns. He also threw a TD pass for Central Coosa.

OL – Jordan Moran, senior, Dadeville

The 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pounder was the starting left tackle for the Tigers. He graded out at 90 percent for the season. He played a large role in helping the top four Tiger rushers average 5.9 yards per carry in 288 attempts.

OL – Trey Ahlgren, senior, Reeltown

Ahlgren, all 6-feet-2-inches and 225 pounds of him, was called the ‘stable’ of the Rebel offensive line by head coach Jackie O’Neal. ‘He’s an excellent blocker that you don’t have to worry about,’ O’Neal said. ‘You tell him what to do, and he’s going to get it done.’

OL – Zavious Darling, junior, Lyman Ward

First year head coach Sheldon Ward always had a positive comment about Darling (5-foot-11-inches, 255 pounds). He allowed quarterback Justin Minor to be sacked only once all season and picked up 14 pancake blocks in the process.

OL – Ethan Underwood, senior, Benjamin Russell

The Wildcat center helped protect for Kendall Graveman while he threw for 20 touchdowns 1,703 yards this year in BRHS’ return season to Class 6A. ‘He was our leader up front,’ Mike McCombs said. ‘He called all our fronts, made audibles and made sure everyone else knew what was going on.’

OL – Wesley Carter, senior, Dadeville

The best offense in Dadeville history, point-wise, gets two offensive lineman on the first-team. Carter (6-foot, 200 pounds) was the right guard for the TIgers and graded out at 84 percent.

All-purpose – Anarius White, senior, Reeltown

White, one of the Opelika-Auburn News’ eight super seniors in the preseason, did not disappoint. He scored eight touchdowns on the ground and gained 587 yards. In the air, he was 35-for-66 for 602 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception. Defensively, he made 27 tackles, picked off four passes and scored a touchdown.

All-purpose – Kyle Johnson, senior, Lyman Ward

Johnson was the definition of an all-purpose player. He caught 28 balls for 611 yards and seven touchdowns, he carried 48 times for 295 yards and a touchdown, completed 8-of-12 passes for 105 yards and a score and he returned 18 kicks for 304 yards and one 86-yard TD.

K – Kyle Caldwell, sophomore, Dadeville

As if an overpowering offense wasn’t enough, the Tigers also had a stellar kicker in Caldwell. He kicked 9-of-18 field goals through the uprights and made 44 of his 54 extra points.

FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE

DL – Patrick Duffie, sophomore, Horseshoe Bend

Duffie was a strong force this season for Jason Franklin’s Generals. He tallied 63 tackles, including five for a loss. He recorded a team-high five sacks for just over seven yards per stop.

DL – Thomas Lutz, junior, Benjamin Russell

The 190-pound Lutz played big this season for the Wildcats in the trenches. He accumulated 42 tackles (six for a loss) and three sacks. BRHS head coach Mike McCombs said Lutz was the steadiest player up front on defense for the Wildcats.

DL – Deshawn Redden, sophomore, Dadeville

While the Tiger offense stole the show this year, Redden was one defender who didn’t fly under the radar. Redden made 48 tackles on the season and got three sacks. He recovered five fumbles, showing that he has a knack for the football.

DL – Antoine Riley, senior, Reeltown

One of the biggest reasons Reeltown allows just 6.4 points per game is line play. Riley was a major part of that defensive line. Just 5-foot-6-inches tall, Riley led that line with 63 tackles and seven tackles-for-loss.

LB- Tariz Walker, junior, Dadeville

Unfortunately enough for opposing teams, this Tiger outside linebacker has another year left. Walker was everywhere this year for Dadeville, picking up 101 tackles. He led the Tigers with six sacks. He recovered a pair of fumbles and got an interception as well.

LB – Reggie Hutchins, junior, Dadeville

Joining his Tiger teammate on the first-team linebacking unit is inside linebacker Reggie Hutchins. Hutchins was the tackles leader on his team and in the area with 113. He snagged two interceptions for the Tigers.

LB – Blake Shaffer, senior, Benjamin Russell

Shaffer was part of a senior-laden defense in Alexander City that faced top-tier offenses each week. ‘He was a real run-stopper,’ McCombs said of Shaffer. ‘He was the best in the middle for us and was our most consistent guy all season long.’ He had 62 tackles.

LB – Clinton Keel, senior, Horseshoe Bend

6-foot-2-inch, 202-pound Keel averaged more than eight tackles per game in nine outings this season. His 77 tackles were the most of any General. Two tackles went for a loss. He also picked up one sack and three quarterback hurries.

DB – LaJarvis Matthews, junior, Benjamin Russell

Matthews was a lockdown corner for the Wildcats. Several of his six interceptions came in key situations for BRHS. He made 19 tackles and also returned punts.

DB – Jacory Smith, sophomore, Reeltown

The Rebels were strong in the secondary, too. Smith picked of two passes and made 33 tackles. Teams were mostly forced to throw away from this 5-foot-9 corner. Jackie O’Neal called him a ‘shutdown’ corner and said there’s no doubt that he is ‘the best DB in the county.’

DB – Clay Phillips, junior, Horseshoe Bend

The area leader in interceptions, Phillips did not shy away from contact, as some in the secondary are known to do. In addition to his seven interceptions, Phillips caused two fumbles, recovered three and made 72 tackles. The free safety averaged more than 11 yards per interception return.

DB – Tre McKinney, senior, Dadeville

Number 5 did a little more than score touchdowns. His six interceptions made opposing quarterbacks think twice before floating one in his direction. He recorded 30 tackles and broke up numerous passes.

P – Kendall Graveman, senior, Benjamin Russell

Graveman was the leader of the Wildcats this season on offense, but, just in case the offense misfired, Graveman was there to boot it away. He punted 44 times for an average of 36.2 yards.

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