By ZACH BIRDSONG
Following the conclusion of the Tennessee high school football season earlier this month, end-of-the-season awards have already begun to be handed out.
While all of the region selections have been named, Lakeway Publishers has once again announced its all-area football team.
Coaches from 10 local high schools were asked to vote in order to compile this year’s Lakeway Publishers All-Area Football Team (LPAAFT). A full list of the all-area teams can be found on Pages 9A and 10A of today’s issue of The Tullahoma News. Coaches additionally voted on five individual awards, the LPAAFT Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Special Teams Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.
Player of the Year
The last three years, Coffee County’s Alontae Taylor has been featured on this list as the Offensive Player of the Year. This year, Taylor has been selected as the LPAAFT Player of the Year, based on a stellar season.
During his senior season, Taylor played multiple positions on both sides of the ball. On the offensive end, Taylor played quarterback and also lined up as wide receiver, helping his offense average 25.9 points per contest.
Taylor was most dangerous as a rusher, carrying the ball 141 times on the season for 1,409 yards while scoring 21 touchdowns. Behind center, Taylor completed 24 of his 46 pass attempts on the year for 391 yards and three touchdowns. He also reeled in 11 receptions for 256 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive end, Taylor had 13 tackles, lining up as a defensive back. He also intercepted one pass during the year.
Coffee County finished its season with an overall record of 3-7 going 1-5 against region opponents.
Taylor will continue his career in college, playing in the SEC. On Friday, he officially committed to the University of Tennessee.
Offensive Player of the Year
Leading an offense that put up 33.9 points per contest, it wasn’t a shock that Tullahoma quarterback Nic Barstad was selected as this year’s LPAAFT Offensive Player of the Year.
Behind center Barstad led the Wildcats to a 5-5 record, completing 64.6 percent of his passes on the year. He threw for 2,242 yards and 24 touchdowns on the season.
Barstad was also able to use his legs to hurt opponents, rushing for eight scores on the season. He picked up 227 yards on 71 attempts.
Defensive Player of the Year
The vote for the LPAAFT Defensive Player of the Year was a tight one, but Coffee County linebacker De’Aaron Rozier took home the crown this year.
Rozier finished the year 37 tackles, including 27 individual tackles with 10 assists. He was also able to get into the backfield, picking up 2.5 sacks on the season. Rozier also caused a fumble and recovered one as well for the Red Raiders.
Special Teams Player of the Year
A good kick returner is hard to come by, but Moore County’s Nate Love was voted as the LPAAFT Special Teams Player of the Year after a solid year returning punts and kicks.
During his senior season, Love had a kick return for touchdown, and played a significant role for his team on the special teams end. The Raiders finished this season with an overall 8-4 and 4-2 against region opponents.
Coach of the Year
This year’s LPAAFT Coach of the Year was nearly a unanimous decision as Moore County Head Coach Jason Dobbs was selected for this award.
In his second season at helm of the Raiders, Dobbs lead his team to an overall record of 8-4 and 4-2 against Region opponents. Moore County went on to make the playoffs, winning its first-round game, before seeing its season end at Huntingdon on Nov. 10.
The Raiders defeated Collinwood 34-7 in the opening round of the playoffs. However, Moore County’s offense struggled against Huntingdon, closing the 2017 campaign.
Dobbs had his team strong on both sides of the ball, only allowing opponents to score 22 points per contest. The Raiders’ offense scored 26.25 points per contest.