Maples, Shiverdecker named among nation's best

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By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

The state’s two most dominant programs the last three years produced Tennessee’s two lone All-Americans over the weekend.

Maryville senior Tyler Maples and Alcoa senior Chris Shiverdecker were named to the PrepNation 101 All-American Football Team, as compiled by editor Jamie DeMoney. The team is comprised of players from all 50 states, with Maples and Shiverdecker the only selections from Tennessee.

Maples was named the team’s state player of the year.

The feeling of being named a high school All-American, coming on the heels of an All-State selection and a Mr. Football award, was one of shock, Maples said.

"I wasn’t actually thinking about it because I thought everything (in terms of a postseason award) was over," said Maples, who’ll sign with the University of Tennessee next month. "I guess I never thought it would go that far.

"It’s unbelievable. It’s kind of like a dream come true. Some kids would do anything to get one of those. Just to get one of those is an honor."

Maples helped Maryville (15-0) to its third consecutive Class 4A state crown in December, with the Rebels routing Hillsboro, 35-10, at Middle Tennessee State University. The future Vol caught six passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns in being named BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player, all while playing on an ankle injured in the previous week’s semifinal.

Maples set school receiving records for career touchdowns (36), yards (2,488) and receptions (119) as a Rebel, adding single-season bests for yards (1,279) and scores (19) as well. His 22.4 yards per catch in 2006 keeps company with a 20.9 mark for a career.

Maryville never lost a game with Maples as a starter, last month’s record-tying 10th state title capping the Rebels third consecutive unbeaten season, extending the school’s current win streak to 45 games.

Returning five punts, three kickoffs and four interceptions for touchdowns as a Rebel, Maples, timed at 4.39 seconds at 40 yards, found the end zone every four times he touched the ball.

Dedication to his craft, coupled with a sobering work ethic, helped make Maples the player he became the last three seasons, Maryville coach George Quarles said. During the offseason, Maples and former Rebel Ryan Tallent, now a freshman at Tusculum College, pushed each other relentlessly.

"Ryan left and Tyler worked out a lot on his own," Quarles said. "You’d come in on a Friday afternoon and you’d see him (Maples) running the steps (at Shields Stadium). A lot of other guys have already hit the weekend."

The Rebel skipper, who’s compiled a 108-9 record in eight seasons at the Maryville helm, was asked recently if Maples is capable of as big an impact at the next level.

"Yes," Quarles said. "Is there going to be a period of adjustment? I think so. Tyler knows that, and I know he’ll work to prepare himself for that jump.

"They (the Tennessee coaching staff) told me this summer he could have returned punts for them last year."

Shiverdecker, scheduled for an official visit to Kentucky later this month, delivered a stunning campaign in his first season as a starter. The Class 2A Mr. Football rushed for 2,195 yards and 26 touchdowns, averaging 12 yards per carry, in 2006. The Tornadoes (13-2) routed Goodpasture, 31-3, in last month’s the 2A title game, with Shiverdecker carrying 23 times for 148 yards and a pair of scores.

The crown was Alcoa’s third consecutive and eighth overall.

In a postseason run for the ages (pun intended), Shiverdecker torched five Alcoa playoff opponents for an even 900 yards rushing, including a different-planet performance in a 42-14 semifinal win at Smith County.

Shiverdecker leveled the Owls for 238 yards and five touchdowns — on nine carries. The All-State flyer had four of his touchdowns and 199 of his yards at the half.

"I was hungry," Shiverdecker said. "I knew I had to come in and be a big part of it. We had a great quarterback. We had the best receivers. We had all these weapons to use."

Among his many honors this season, the Alcoa burner was also named "Best Dressed" by the Tennessean at the Mr.
Football awards in December. When the curtain came down at MTSU’s Floyd Stadium a week later, there was much to reflect on.

"It was a blessing," Shiverdecker said. "After everything was over, I just sat there and prayed. It was a dream come true.
"It was a real thrill this year. Everything was on point."

Shiverdecker’s first season as a starter coincided with Gary Rankin’s first season as Alcoa’s coach. The former Riverdale skipper watched from the stands as the Tornadoes routed Goodpasture in the 2005 title game, a contest during which Shiverdecker was named BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player.

Alcoa needed a big game from Shiverdecker that afternoon with school-record holder and former Tornado Dustin Lindsey limited largely to defense with an injured ankle. Lindsey was off to college following last season. If Alcoa was going to three-peat in 2006, Shiverdecker would have to carry much of the load.

"I told him at the beginning of the year it was his time. He’s the man," Rankin said. "I think he knew he had a challenge put on him and he had a responsibility to his team and his school."

That Shiverdecker was ready for the task at hand was apparent before the season’s first kickoff.

"I saw the lights come on at the Oak Ridge scrimmage," Rankin said.

By season’s end, those lights were shinning brightly down on an All-American.

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