Football talent in county made noise in 2013
by Doug Gorman
The 2013 football season won’t go down as one of the best for teams from Coweta County, but like every year, there was plenty of talent Friday nights on the gridiron at all three public high schools.
When the dust settled on the 2013 season, East Coweta (5-6) and Newnan (6-5) each made it to the first round of the playoffs. Northgate (4-6), which was the only school in the state to play two eventual GHSA state champions (Griffin in AAAA and Creekside in AAAAA) missed the playoffs for the first time in three years despite putting itself in contention for the Region 4-AAAAA play-in game before falling to eventual state quarterfinalist Mundy’s Mill.
This year’s Newnan Times-Herald All-County team features three superlatives - Most Valuable Player and Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
But no player may have meant more to their team in all three phases than East Coweta senior Markell Boston, who was a standout defender as well as a playmaker at receiver and as a kick returner.
Developing into a dependable safety, Boston led East Coweta with 87 tackles, including two for loss. He also had one forced fumble and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Boston added five more scores as a receiver with a team-high 588 yards on 36 catches. He also returned at least one punt for a score while being exceptionally dangerous on returns.
Boston’s success as a receiver was as much a benefit from Times-Herald Offensive Player of the Year Bryce Gemmel and vice versa.
With Boston as a go-to target, the Indians senior quarterback threw for 1,400 yards on 118 of 223 passing and 11 touchdowns. Gemmel was just as dangerous when on the move, scoring eight times while gaining 643 yards rushing at over five yards a carry.
On the other side of the ball, meanwhile, Newnan senior linebacker Tonarius Portress was equally dependable for his team, securing Defensive Player of the Year honors. Portress finished with 135 tackles, including 10 for a loss, with three sacks, an interception and 10 hurries.
Overall, East Coweta and Newnan, which battled it out in the final game of the regular season for second place in Region 3-AAAAAA both garnered 12 selections on the All-County team. Northgate finished with 10 including three running backs on the offensive unit.
Newnan quarterback Bailey Bryant earned his spot for after leading the Cougars to the playoffs. The junior quarterback went 112 of 198 for 1,303 yards, including nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Vikings had three running backs all finish with at least 450 yards rushing led by senior Benton Washington, who finished with 801 yards on 130 carries with nine touchdowns.
Fullback T.J. Womack, who began his high school career on the offensive line for Northgate before switching over to the team’s backfield last season, was the squad’s second leading rusher this season with 757 yards and four touchdowns.
Junior Kevin Teasley also gained 470 yards on 86 carries with two touchdowns.
East Coweta senior Malik Robinson also earned an All-County honors a s a running back, finishing with 429 yards and scoring eight touchdowns.
Up front on the offensive line, a trio of Indians led the way for Gemmel and company. They included senior Qua Fuller, a starting guard that graded 85-percent on blocks and finished the year with 32 pancakes. Fellow senior Charles Bush graded out 60 percent with 22 pancakes while junior center Dawson Ellis also had solid numbers with a grade of 65.
Also among All-County linemen were a pair of players from Newnan and Northgate. Representing the Cougars was senior tackle Anfeney Turner, who graded out at 76 percent with 35 pancakes and guarded his southpaw quarterback’s blind side. Turner was joined by junior guard Christian Shellabarger, who was equally steady in a year where the team was forced to start three sophomores partly due to injuries.
Northgate senior Aaron Carr earned All-Region 4B-AAAAA honors en route to his selection and was joined by senior John Proctor, who was as much a factor in springing holes for the aforementioned trio of Viking running backs.
On the defensive side of the ball, five linemen were selected to this year’s team, including two from Newnan, one from East Coweta and two from Northgate.
Senior Mark Harris, one of the top defensive specialist at Newnan, earned his spot on the first-team defense after making 57 tackles, seven for losses, three sacks, 13 hurries, four fumble recoveries and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.
Teammate Chris Porter also made the first team. Porter finished the season with 63 tackles, including four for a loss. He also had six sacks, seven hurries and four forced fumbles.
East Coweta’s Noah Rutherford had 83 total tackles for the Indians. He also forced two fumbles and added four tackles for a loss.
Northgate’s Rashad Menefee finished the season with 47 tackles to earn first team honors. Also up front, Marquis Jennings ended the season with 45 tackles, including four for a loss and five quarterback hurries.
Also among standout defensive linemen this season was the Times-Herald’s Newcomer of the Year in East Coweta freshman Jeremiah Gemmel. While expecting to play on the JV heading into the summer, the ninth grader immediately found himself on the varsity with his older brother Bryce and becoming an immediate standout.
He finished with 55 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles while helping fill a big hole lost by injured junior Tristan Mann, an All-County lineman as a sophomore in 2012. Two linebackers from Northgate led All-County honors at the position. Senior Ryan Fagerstrom finished the season as the Vikings’ leading tackler with 140 including 93 solos. He also had an interception. Northgate sophomore James Skalski also made the first-team as a linebacker. Skalski, who also handled place kicking and punting duties for the Vikings, finished with 112 tackles, including 77 solos.
He also had one interception.
Newnan sophomore Emanuel Bridges finished with 92 tackles, 16 for a loss, four sacks and 15 hurries.
East Coweta junior linebacker Tyler Poythress landed a spot on the defensive side of the ball after finishing with 66 tackles, including eight for a loss. He also had two sacks. Five defensive backs earned a place on this year’s all-county first team.
Newnan’s J.K. Britt and Frankie Williams earned first team honor the secondary for the Cougars. Britt and Williams led the Cougars with four interception each. One of Williams’ interceptions was returned for a touchdown.
Williams closed out the regular season with 26 tackles and six pass breakups. In addition to his four interceptions, Britt also had 22 tackles.
East Coweta’s Michael Singleton and Kevin Lashley also earned first team honors for their play in the secondary.
Singleton was one of the Indians’ top tacklers with 41. He also forced three fumbles and had two interceptions.
Despite having his final varsity season shortened by injury, Viking senior Torres Johnson was a dominating player that still managed to finish sixth on the team with 44 tackles. On special teams, Newnan senior place kicker Connor Cox earned All-County honors for his accuracy while connecting on 25 of 26 extra points and 7 of 10 field goal attempts with a long of 40 yards.
East Coweta junior Cole Antley, who was much a weapon as a kicker, earned All-County honors as a punter while averaging 34.83 yards on 41 attempts.