Nine local players chosen by sports writers
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Sports Writers Association met Dec. 15-16 to decide who were the best high school football players in the state of Alabama. During the meeting, nine local players were honored for outstanding seasons.
Three players were named to the first teams in their respective class and six others were named to the honorable mention list.
Class 5A team – Four Hartselle Tigers were named to the All-State list. Chris Wiley and Justin Youngblood were named to the first team, while Travis Lightle and Michael Scott were named honorable mention.
Youngblood rushed for 1,842 yards and scored 28 total touchdowns. He scored 25 times on the ground including several long-range scores. Youngblood scored eight times on runs of 40 yards or more. He also had a 57-yard touchdown reception and had 96 and 98-yard kickoff returns for scores. Youngblood gained 2,680 total yards including rushing, receiving and kickoff returns. According to the Alabama High School Athletic Association web site, his total is the sixth highest in state history.
Youngblood said he wasn't anticipating putting up big numbers in his senior season.
"I never really expected this," Youngblood said. "I didn't sit down and think about what it would be like to make All-State but now that I have it's a big honor. I didn't know I had so many total yards. I just didn't expect to have this kind of a year."
Wiley was the Tigers' leading receiver on offense, while leading the team in interceptions from his safety position. Wiley scored six times on pass receptions and once on the ground. He also scored twice on interception returns, one a 99-yard runback against Russellville and the other a 38-yard game-clinching touchdown at Athens in a key region game.
Wiley was caught off guard by the accolade.
"I was very surprised when I heard about it," Wiley said. "I thought Lightle, Scott and Youngblood would make it. Because, they'll had great years. I'm happy, but I'm very surprised."
Scott, lead the Tigers with 131 tackles, seven quarterback sacks and three pass breakups. The senior was only Tiger to top the 100-tackle mark in 2004.
Scott wasn't expecting the acclaim, but he expected it for one of his teammates.
"I was expecting Youngblood to make it," Scott said. "He had a great season. I had a good season, but our whole team had a good season. I think that's why I made it."
Lightle played center on offense and defensive end on defense.
The senior had nine quarterback sacks, three pass breakups, two fumbles and recovered a fumble. He played every snap this season as center for Hartselle.
"I was pretty excited when I found out," Lightle said. " This is a pretty big honor. I'm very proud to have made it. Not many guys get selected All-State."
Justin Knight of Brewer led the state in total punts this season, 63, as he averaged over 37 yards per boot and put 62 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Class 3A team – Danville senior Patrick Pinchon was named to the first team for a the second-straight season.
He led the Hawks with nine quarterback sacks, six forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. In addition, he blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. He totaled 67 tackles in 11 games.
Pinchon's teammates, senior Thomas Garner and juniors Jeremy Orr and Tyree Murphy were all named to the honorable mention list.
Garner recorded 111 tackles from his linebacker position. He also recovered three fumbles and intercepted three passes.
Orr rushed for 1,356 yards and 22 touchdowns, bringing his two-year total at Danville to 2,9115 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Murphy picked off eight passes to lead the area, recovered a fumble and forced another one. In addition, he caught 16 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns from his receiver position on offense.