The Maryville Middle Bulldogs made history this season, becoming the school’s first team to complete a 10-0 season. The Bulldogs punctuated the run with a Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference championship at season’s end. Five Maryville players were named to this season’ All-Blount County Middle School Team, but future impact players made a name for themselves countywide this fall.
Tyler Sheehan, Heritage Sheehan, an eighth-grader, received the Mustangs best offensive player award at season’s end. Sheehan collected 10 key blocks on Heritage scoring drives, finishing second among Mustangs in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks.
Zack Whaley, Heritage Whaley led the Mustangs in all-purpose yards this season, finding the end zone for 10 touchdowns. At season’s end, Whaley was given the Mustangs most outstanding player award.
R.T. Byrd, Eagleton Playing football for the first time, Byrd found himself directing the Royals at quarterback. Byrd scored six touchdowns for Eagleton and collected five interceptions on defense despite missing three games due to injury.
John Michael Vilchez, Eagleton Only a seventh-grader, Vilchez was “Mr. Versatility” for the Royals, scoring six touchdowns on offense along with being Eagleton’s top run stopper. Vilchez also played quarterback for three games because of injuries to other players.
Isaac Edmiston, Maryville In his first year as the starter at quarterback, Edmiston broke several school records, completing 77 percent (47 of 61) of his passes for 907 yards and 13 touchdowns. Selected a team captain by his peers, Edmiston would be intercepted only twice for the 10-0, Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference champion Bulldogs.
Drew Curtis, Maryville A two-year starter at center, Curtis never made his quarterback reach for the shotgun snap. The Bulldog punter received clean deliveries on the long snaps as well. It’s at linebacker, though, where Curtis, selected a team captain, may make his mark on the high school level. The kid is a big-time hitter.
Cody Carroll, Maryville Carroll broke the Bulldog record for touchdown catches in a season with 10 this fall, breaking former Maryville High star Chris Jordan’s mark by a considerable margin. In a genuinely stunning display, Carroll caught 19 passes for 475 yards, averaging 25 yards per catch. Carroll caught a touchdown pass in eight of 10 games this season.
Caden Ryding, Maryville Ryding is the next big thing in kicking. The Bulldog eighth-grader is the only player in school history to connect on a field goal, accomplishing the feat twice this fall. Over two seasons, Ryding made good on 32 of 34 extra points.
Shawn Prevo, Maryville Prevo may start as a freshman at Maryville High next season. The Bulldog eighth-grader rushed for 591 yards and 12 touchdowns this fall in helping Maryville to a school-record 10-0 season and the Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference championship. Averaging 11.5 yards per carry, Prevo added two touchdowns receiving and two on defense to finish with 16 all told.
Malik Love, Alcoa An honor roll student in the classroom, Love led the Tornadoes with 17 touchdowns and rushed for over 750 yards this season. A linebacker and safety on defense, Love averaged five tackles per game for Alcoa.
Ben Sternburg, Alcoa Described by his coach as a “football machine,” Sternburg was a leader for the Tornadoes on both sides of the ball. Making the line calls for Alcoa on offense, Sternburg averaged 10 tackles per game on defense. On a Tornado play designated “the guard special,” Sternburg rumbled downfield for a 20-yard gain.
Braylon Young, Alcoa Young is 5-foot-9, 200 pounds. The upcoming Tornado played offensive guard and defensive end, averaging six tackles per game with four sacks and three forced fumbles. The trap block requires an offensive lineman with a lot of athleticism. Young is one of the best at it.
Jared Henderson, Alcoa Henderson can do it all for a football team. As a cornerback on defense, he excelled as a run stopper and a shut-down defender against the pass, collecting an interception along with numerous tackles for loss. On offense, Henderson played running back, receiver and quarterback, producing a touchdown at each position.
Peyton Wall, Union Grove His name’s Peyton, and he plays quarterback. He plays it well, too. Wall has an exceptional arm and is good with his feet when he tucks the ball and takes off. Finishing among the team leaders in rushing, Wall possesses the most valuable asset for a quarterback: He’s a leader.
Michael Travis, Union Grove A guard on offense and a tackle on defense, Travis is an excellent run blocker. On defense, Travis finished near the top among Wildcats in tackles, not an easy thing to do when you’re right in the middle of it on every snap. Continuing a time-honored tradition among linemen, Travis is a leader in the classroom.
Marty Rogers, Carpenters Rogers is a franchise-type quarterback for some lucky high school. The Cougars eighth-grader was a two-year starter, breaking all Carpenters records for passing a year ago. This fall, Rogers took possession of all of his school’s rushing records, finishing with 1,000 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, averaging 11.0 yard per carry. Adding five scores passing, Rogers played outside linebacker on defense for the Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference runner-up Cougars.
Michael Harris, Carpenters Harris was a bruising fullback whose lead blocks paved the way for an offense that averaged better than 200 yards rushing per game. Harris, himself, finished with 380 yards rushing and five touchdowns, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. The Carpenters defensive captain, Harris led the Cougars in tackles from his middle linebacker spot.
Clark Jones, Carpenters Jones could change the course of a game by himself from his defensive tackle position. Often doubled, Jones led the Cougars in sacks, fumble recoveries and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss. He played guard on offense for the Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference runner-up Cougars.
Tyler Strickland, Carpenters Strickland spent half the season at wide receiver, the other half at running back, leading Carpenters in every receiving category and finishing second only to quarterback Marty Rogers for total touchdowns. Finishing with 179 yards receiving and two scores, Strickland added 200 yards rushing and three more touchdowns out of the backfield.