It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
That’s how it always felt when it was time to pick the all-area teams during my 6 1/2 years at The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. While it was satisfying to reflect on the season and the accomplishments of the area’s best and brightest student-athletes, it was equally trying to put together a list that invariably omits one deserving player or another.
It felt equally challenging, if not more so, to embark on doing so this year. As a staff of one, I was unable to see every player in the area this season and there were many others who I saw only once. So I solicited input from area coaches and pored over the statistics, giving both more weight than my own “eye test.”
Add in the challenge of factoring in the level of competition – how do you compare the stats of a player who went against mostly 4A competition against those of a player who faced SCISA 8-man teams? – and the task becomes even more daunting.
You are sure to disagree with one or more of my selections. Heck, I could probably talk myself into changing a few of them if I tried hard enough. But in order to put someone else ON the list, you have to take someone OFF the list. Therein lies the rub.
Like the players themselves, all you can do is give your best effort, and this is mine.
Without further ado, here is the inaugural LowcoSports All-Lowcountry Football Team.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Walter Wilson, BCHS
Four wins might not sound impressive, but consider this: Battery Creek had reached that number only three times in the 13 seasons prior to Wilson taking over in 2017. They got there in Wilson’s first season on campus, finishing 4-6 with a dominant win over Whale Branch, a thrilling overtime victory over Calhoun County (Wilson’s former team), a blowout win over Ridgeland-Hardeeville, and an impressive playoff-clincher against May River. The Dolphins almost certainly would have won a fifth game if not for Hurricane Irma, which wiped out their trip to Charleston Math & Science, and they made a spirited second-half comeback before falling 32-26 at Bishop England in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. The best sign of all for Wilson and the Dolphins? The team was still improving as the season came to a close, showing a glimpse of the promise that lies ahead.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jermaine Patterson, BLHS
After splitting time between quarterback and receiver as a junior, Patterson made the full-time move to wideout for his senior campaign and became a dominant force for the Bobcats. He topped 100 yards receiving in eight of 11 games and caught at least one touchdown pass in all 11. In one of the three in which he fell short of the century mark, he finished with 96 yards, and in another he hauled in the winning touchdown pass in a playoff victory over Hanahan. Even late in the season after the Bobcats had lost receiver Shamar Sandgren and tight end Lee Kirkland to injuries, Patterson continued to torment – and occasionally torch – opposing secondaries.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tyreke Young, HHIHS
Some players stand out on the football field before the ball is even snapped. Young is one of them. He’s listed at 6-3 and 190 pounds, but he towers above his peers, and he stands out on the stat sheet as well. The senior defensive end racked up 62 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, five pass break-ups, and 16 quarterback hurries despite teams trying to run away from him and double- and triple-teaming him in pass protection. NCAA Division I coaches are taking notice, too – he has nearly a dozen scholarship offers, including strong programs such as Toledo, Cincinnati, Appalachian State, and South Florida.
QB: Hunter Eldridge, BLHS
Accurate passer and excellent decision-maker made the most of the cache of weapons at his disposal, passing for 2,414 yards with 33 TDs and 12 INTs.
RB: Zach Doe, JPII
Powerhouse back averaged 8.2 yards per carry and finished with 1,918 yards and 25 TDs … also threw in a TD pass for good measure.
RB: Kyleik Middleton, BHS
Slowed by an injury late in the season but still finished with 1,260 rushing yards and 15 TDs.
RB: Irvin Mulligan, WBECHS
Put up huge numbers even against 3A and 4A competition, averaging 9.9 yards per carry and totaling 1,406 yards and 23 TDs.
WR: Jermaine Patterson, BLHS
Multi-sport star was virtually unstoppable, hauling in 69 passes for 1,404 yards and 20 TDs.
WR: Sterling White, HHIHS
Track star was centerpiece of Seahawks’ offense with 54 receptions for 840 yards and 9 TDs and 305 rushing yards (13.3 per carry).
OL: Joey Kurkul, HHIHS
Led an undersized offensive line that held its own against top competition.
OL: Woods Langehans, BHS
Paved the way for Eagles’ powerful rushing attack.
OL: Drew Lee, BLHS
Anchor of offensive line that gave Eldridge time to operate.
OL: Gabe Long, MRHS
Top lineman on unit that helped two Sharks rush for more than 900 yards apiece.
OL: Byron McClain, BCHS
Leader of vastly improved offensive line helped Dolphins’ ground game flourish.
DL: Hunter Brophy, MRHS
Run-stopper collected 103 tackles (58 solo) with 11 TFL and six sacks for much-improved Sharks defense.
DL: Reid Daughtry, BHS
Wreaked havoc in the backfield with 21.5 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks, and 10 more QB hurries.
DL: Tyreke Young, HHIHS
D1 target was a dominant force on the line, finishing with 62 tackles, 20 TFL, 14 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, five PBUs, and 16 QB hurries despite teams paying extra attention to him.
LB: Zach Bond, THA
Senior leader flew all over the field for Rebels’ strong defense, racking up 141 tackles (94 solo) with 10 TFL and five sacks.
LB: Landon Jenkins, HHIHS
Hybrid linebacker/safety led Seahawks with 112 tackles, including staggering 22 TFL and 12 sacks, and also forced two fumbles.
LB: Richard Jenkins, BLHS
Racked up 127 tackles (63 solo) with eight TFL and had a hand in five takeaways.
LB: KyShon Hipp, WBECHS
Hybrid player helped stop the run and pass, racking up 76 tackles with 16 TFL, six PBUs and four interceptions, including a pick-6.
DB: Reggie Brown, BLHS
Turned two of five takeaways into defensive TDs and finished with 101 tackles (54 solo) and four TFL.
DB: Jaheem Hazel, WBECHS
Part of outstanding Warriors’ secondary broke up nine passes and had five picks.
DB: Reggie Jones Jr., BHS
Led Eagles with four interceptions, including one returned for a TD, and broke up four other passes.
DB: Jordan Reeves, WBECHS
Most disruptive of Warriors’ dominant DBs finished with 51 tackles, six interceptions, nine PBUs and took a pick and a punt return to the house.
K: Evan Berkner, HHCA
Soccer star gave Eagles a weapon with his leg, going 25-of-27 on PATs and 6-of-9 on field goals, including a 42-yard boot.
P: Brandon Benke, BCHS
Averaged 41.7 yards per punt and served as a reliable placekicker for the Dolphins.
KR: Jamel Moultrie, WBECHS
Averaged 28 yards per kickoff return and took two to the house, including a 99-yard TD.
AP: De’Shaun Epps, BA
Sophomore dominated the 8-man ranks, rushing for 1,979 yards and 20 TDs and adding five TD receptions and 20 2-point conversions while also standing out on defense and special teams.
QB: Collin Kaiser, HHIHS
RB: JR Patterson, THA
RB: Cam Adams, MRHS
WR: I’Kiem Jefferson, BLHS
WR: Diante Richard, HHIHS
WR: Jertaveon Smalls, RHHS
OL: Evan Brazil, THA
OL: Anthony McVay, WBECHS
OL: Isaiah Parker, BHS
OL: Kevin Sales, BLHS
OL: Dylan Williams BHS
DL: Brendan Bowersox, BHS
DL: Timber Hexamer, THA
DL: Ahman Smalls, BCHS
DL: Brandon Wilson, BCHS
LB: Jaylon Thompson, BLHS
LB: Kegan Crowell, BHS
LB: Jahiem Fripp, WBECHS
LB: Will Kelley, BHS
DB: Terry Fields, MRHS
DB: Tristen James, BLHS
DB: Reece Woods, HHCA
K: Jonathan Orr, HHIHS
P: Logan Blair, HHP
KR: Bobby Payne, THA
AP: Jeffrey Smyth, BHS
Battery Creek: Trey Booth, RB; Trey Chancey, WR; Jordan Gwyn, QB; Dizayuh Hinton, OL; Sayrend Musgrove Jr., WR/DE
Beaufort Academy: Dawson Coleman, QB; Edward McCormick, LB; Daniel Richards, OL/DL; Jaxon Spratling, RB/LB
Beaufort High: Kagel Coke, DB; Trae Heyward, RB/WR; Reed Reichel, WR; Isaiah Wilson, DL
Bluffton: Quan Bell, OL; Evan Hayes, K; Ronald Reid, DL; Kylan Simmons, LB; John Swinton, RB
Hilton Head Christian: Dargan Cherry, OL/DL; Daniel Harrington, QB/DB; Justin Heller, OL/DL; Max Lowrey, LB; J.P. Peduzzi, WR/DB; Brennan Studenc, WR/DB; Ben Viljac, OL/LB
Hilton Head High: Cole DeMarzo, DB; Lance Jackson, WR/DB; T.J. Johnson, DL; Kevin Schofield, RB;
Hilton Head Prep: Hunter Hopman, RB/LB; Stone McDonald, QB/DB; Davis Puckey, OL/DL
John Paul II: Amere Cherry, WR/DB; Jonathan Field, OL/LB; Melik Frost, RB/LB; Travis Polite-Grant, WR/DB; Travis Taylor, WR/DB; Brad Tigges, OL/DL; Mark Tigges, OL/DL; Nyleem Wright, QB/DB; Moxon Zehr, OL/DL
May River: Jordan Barrow, LB; Ridge Dowe, LB; Kaleb Foulk, LB; Roderick Grant, DL; Ahmad Green, QB; Eli Hall, LB; Hunter Singletary, TE; Vance Summers, DB
Ridgeland-Hardeeville: Derald Nelson, QB; Myles Pinckney, OL/DL; Jabari Williams, RB/WR; Ronald Zimmerman, WR
Thomas Heyward: Zack Black, WR/DB; John Hewlett, OL; Jake Masters, WR/DB; River Pender, RB/DL; Logan Thomas, QB
Whale Branch: Jhonatan Diaz, K; Carus Epps, OL; Jaquez Frazier, DL; Aaron Rhode, OL